4 out of 4 stars
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Superman! Batman! Spiderman! Toni- Wait, who?! Toni the Superhero, that's who! In R.D. Base's delightful book, Toni is a little boy...er, superhero, who likes to do a number of things, including read and jump. He also likes to be helpful by sweeping and dusting. Hey, even superheroes do "normal" stuff!
In this book for the very young, there's no real plot to speak of because the tome is more about teaching youngsters to read simple words; think of it as a slight step up from Pat the Bunny. To that end, the book includes a lot of repetition since that's how children learn. But it's not all about fun and games. There's also a subtle lesson to be learned. The lesson is that helping around the house is fun, and even superheroes have to do mundane things from time to time.
I like that this book is prime material for bonding between children and their parents. As they read together, parents can disucss the fun activities their children like and perhaps compare the activities they like to the ones Toni likes. Parents can additionally take the opportunity to discuss chores around the house and how the child can do them with a smile like Toni does.
Since this book is for those aged 3-5, it's very important that the illustrations "pop" and they do in this book. Full-color pictures take up every page with the text easily readable as well. The pictures are appropriate for the accompanying words and give young readers plenty to look at; in fact, a couple of pictures don't even have words, they're just for looking at. In several instances, it's clear that the pictures are a continuation from the previous page and even though it's just okay in the .pdf version, I imagine that it makes for a very nice two-page spread in the print version.
To me, the single most important thing in a children's book is that the grammar is perfect. I'm happy to say that I noted zero errors or misspellings in this tale. Yay!
In addition to the lesson that helping and doing chores is fun, I like that the hero in question is a boy of color. In a genre where the superheros have historically been fair-skinned, it's important for little African-American children to see heroes who look like themselves. Since Black Panther is making a splash at the box office, the timing is on-point for our little hero.
The one thing that bothered me about this book - and it's my own idiosyncrasy - is the spelling of "Toni"; to me, Toni with an "i" is a girl's name, whereas a boy's name is spelled with a "y". Again, that's just me and how I view things.
I'd have to be an evil villain to give this book anything less than an A+, so my rating for Toni the Superhero is 4 out of 4 stars. I very highly recommend it for preschoolers and their parents, preschool-K teachers, and any adult who likes a simple read every once in a while.
And look up when you go outside. It may not be a bird or a plane or even Superman that you see in the sky; it may be Toni!
Toni the Superhero
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