4 out of 4 stars
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Toni the Superhero, written by R.D. Base, and illustrated by Debbie J. Hefke, is a new take on a children’s primer. Designed to appeal to early readers, Toni the Superhero is a twenty-first century take on an age-old effort to teach children to read. The book is a vivid depiction of a young child’s life and activities. The simple sentence structure and bright and inviting illustrations make it an easy pick for a new reader’s library.
There are many things here for children and adults to enjoy. First, we have Toni, a young boy who dances through life with his superhero costume on. He makes an adventure out of everyday events like playing in the park, drawing in his room, and helping a cat out of a tree.
Also, it is obvious that both the author and the illustrator are able to perceive a child’s life through the lens of exuberance and enjoyment which many younger children naturally have. The Illustrations pop off the page and are full of motion and laughter. My favorite was the one where Toni is dancing with his mom. You just want to jump right in and dance along.
As someone who read to her child from before he could talk, I would recommend this to any parent who wants a simple and uplifting story to share with their child. The repetitive sentence structure and limited vocabulary make this book ideal for new readers. Besides encouraging a child to read on their own, I see this as a book that could be used to open dialog between parents and children. I imagine there are several ways one could use this book. You could encourage your child to think about Toni’s actions, or you could assist him or her in learning to identify the words on the page. Not to mention that I think it would be very easy to sneak in some chores in the name of being a superhero like Toni.
If I had to make one criticism of the book, it would be that the phrase “Toni likes . . .” is overused. Out of seventeen sentences, fourteen begin with “Toni likes . . .”. Though I understand that the author wants to make the book accessible to a child, I think that children are capable of understanding and learning a great many words, and it wouldn't hurt to throw in a few more conjugated verbs. No child will be perplexed if the sentence, “Toni likes to jump.” is changed to: “Toni jumps.”
Despite my criticism, I loved this little book and hope that it will be around for a long time. Having grown up with Dick, Jane and Spot, I was pleased to see a superhero of color, and I look forward to more adventures, more diversity and more awesome vibrant illustrations of Toni.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. There were no grammar or formatting errors that I noticed, and it was extremely easy to read.
Toni the Superhero
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