1 out of 4 stars
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A Yard Full of Wonder, written by Jean McCarthy and illustrated by Genesis Ray Pelobello, is a short children’s picture book about the various animals one girl has encountered in her backyard. Baby bunnies, a family of robins, a skunk, and a pair of love birds have all made their home in this girl’s yard.
The book begins with the narrator, an adolescent female, informing the reader that the story is all about the animal friends she has met in her backyard. However, the narrator is never properly introduced. The first page of illustration does not include an image of the narrator (although she is depicted later on), and the narrator never shares her name in the narrative. Moreover, the narrator is somewhat annoying, as she constantly uses exclamations like, ‘Oh my gosh !!’ This phrase hardly seems appropriate for the age level of the book, which given the bright illustrations, short narrative, and simple wording, appears to be children about three to seven years old.
The illustrations are brightly colored and depict cutesy images of the animals the narrator has seen in her yard. However, the illustrations were inconsistent at times. For instance, at one point the narrative describes a baby robin hopping around the yard and seeing new things. However, the corresponding illustration shows the narrator, a skunk and a bunny, but no robin. This illustration is also repeated a few pages later, leading me to believe that it was unintentionally placed by the narrative describing the baby robin.
This children’s book is fourteen pages long, yet the book is split up into four chapters. The use of chapters in this book seemed pointless, especially because some of the chapters are only one page. As for the font choice, the entire book is written in all caps, which was distracting. Lastly, some sentences end unnecessarily with multiple ellipsis, which is not only grammatically incorrect but may be confusing for new readers.
However, the biggest detractor to this book is the lack of a clear message. Other than describing the animals the narrator has met in her backyard, there is no plot or moral to this story. In order for children’s books to be memorable and for children to want to read the book again and again, there needs to be some type of message that children can learn from or a story they can relate to. Unfortunately, this book has neither, and ultimately ends abruptly without any type of conclusion. If more of an effort had been made to encourage young readers to enjoy the outdoors or learn about the different types of animals they might find in their backyard, this book could have been more impactful.
A Yard Full of Wonder missed the mark; the vague narrator, the disconnected illustrations and the awkward use of all caps make this book unappealing as a children’s book. The further lack of a moral or message also makes it difficult to recommend this book. Given the many issues noted above, I rate this book 1 out of 4 stars.
A yard full of Wonder
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