4 out of 4 stars
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Sally the Bold by Albert Alarcon is a children’s picture book about the legend of Sally the Knight. Sally is a disabled female knight who has to contend with a beast named Max. While riding around in her wheelchair, the townspeople ask for her help as a “monster” is ruining their farms at night. Fortunately, Sally is very brave so she goes searching for Max. Will she find a way to stop him from wrecking the town?
Sally is portrayed as a fearless girl who finds creative ways to fix problems. I absolutely loved the dual concept of the main character being a female knight and someone who has a disability. Traditionally, men are shown as knights in children’s books so it’s nice to see a girl featured in this role. It also sends a strong message to kids that Sally doesn’t let her inability to walk stand in the way of accomplishing great feats.
The story is written in rhyme, with each set of two sentences rhyming. This was not immediately apparent in the PDF format I received. Since most of the pages contain only one sentence, the rhyme scheme is more noticeable on the pages that have two sentences or more. Young readers would likely appreciate the rhyming aspect more in the paper version of the book, as the pages would be in a side-by-side format.
Children would easily be able to follow the story. The two main characters are described well and there is a clear problem and resolution. A little humor is sprinkled into the interactions between Sally and Max, although the underlying theme of helpfulness permeates the story. There are a few advanced words (e.g.- protrude, corrective, and trampled), but that’s not necessarily a downside. In an otherwise simple story, teaching kids a few new words is an easy way to expand their vocabulary.
The colorful artwork has a handmade quality and adds a whimsical touch to the story. One minor gripe is that the formal-style font is bland and seems out of place against the bright illustrations; it would be better suited to an adult novel. I liked that the pictures of the beast are light-hearted so younger children could be entertained rather than scared. Sally is shown as a busy, helpful person even though she rides in a wheelchair. This sets a good example for children, that disabled people can lead active lives and help others.
This book has earned the highest rating, 4 out of 4 stars. It is a creatively written tale that would be a fine addition to any child’s bookshelf. I would recommend it to children ages 3-8, especially those who like unique characters. Sally is certainly not a traditional knight and Max is not a typical beast. It would be a good read-aloud choice for bedtime or class/library storytime, and emergent readers could read the book independently. Sally is a wonderful character and I hope the author decides to turn this book into a series.
Sally the Bold
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