4 out of 4 stars
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Toni the Superhero is a brilliant short little book for children from birth up to the age of four or five. The author has done a great job of adopting the words of a child in this age category and presenting information in a way that is easy for them to understand.
The brightly illustrated book will be appealing to children in the target age group as it is rather vibrant. The pictures are well drawn cartoons that depict the main character as a mummy’s little superhero who is happy to help around the house, out in the garden, but still has time for fun and games with his friends.
Even in this day and age, there still seems to be a huge cry for parents of children from minority backgrounds to have characters that they can relate to. This book ticks that box by providing such a character that would appeal particularly to members of ‘black’ communities.
I thought the front cover was not only appealing, but very cleverly orchestrated to provide an example of many of the things we would encounter Toni doing throughout the book.
I have two children within this target group and was able to make some observations about their reaction to the text. The 19 month old, enjoyed pointing out the various items on the page to request their names and made attempts to repeat these. He didn’t get bored of flicking backwards and forwards, perhaps because there was barely any text. The longest double page consisted of just nine words of which three of those words were repeated. The three year old has a clear vocabulary but is only beginning his journey of learning to read. Within two sittings, he was competently reciting the book. This is probably due to each sentence either starting with, ‘Toni is…’ or, ‘Toni likes to…’ I can see the potential in using this method to help teach reading particularly if you started early and didn’t have access to the additional methods used in schools that may be conflicting.
If I was pushed to find fault with this book, one of the items I would draw to your attention is that the book has no storyline. There is no plot whatsoever as it is just repetitive structure about various things a little boy likes to do. On the flip side of that, children of such a young age may not necessarily appreciate a story and so for that reason, I wouldn’t be discouraged from purchasing this book.
The second flaw I had would not have been noticed if it hadn’t been for some of the double pages. Half the pictures in the book span two pages with the sentence(s) relating to the whole picture. Other pages are completely separate but sit next to each other disrupting the flow of the vibrant colours. That said, it didn’t bother my children in the slightest.
For what the book sets out to achieve; the way it is presented, the language used, the appeal to the target audience, and the learning aspect that is incorporated into it, I give this book a rating of 4 out of 4. I thoroughly recommend this book to parents of very young children, or for parents with children that don’t have the attention span to take in a story.
I'm excited to see further works from R.D. Base and to learn more about Toni within books of book a similar reading ability and further series for when children are ready to advance.
Toni the Superhero
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