3 out of 4 stars
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Dream Happy, Be Great by Gary Krutz PhD is an illustrated children’s book about living a good life and treating all people with respect. It is intended to be used interactively, where parents and teachers can discuss the concepts with kids. The book is divided into two parts by age group, with the first section focused on ages 2-6 and the second part on ages 7-11. Each page is devoted to a general aspect of behavior such as teamwork, giving, conversation, etc. There are also warnings against negative actions in life – for example, bullying and stealing.
I enjoyed this short, educational book. It is important to teach children good manners and encourage them to develop good habits such as being kind to others and keeping clean. There is no plot as this is more of a reference book, with each page highlighting a general topic.
The content feels a bit thin and more like an outline for a class discussion rather than a book. I would have liked to see the concepts expanded on, rather than one page devoted to each idea with only two or three sentences. For example, “Eat Well” explains that you should eat fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein. There is only one other sentence included that you will be stronger and healthier with a balanced diet. The picture on this page depicts a chef standing over a table with many different foods. Children ages 2-6 would not understand what protein and grains are from either the picture or text. I don’t think young kids understand what types of foods are considered dairy, contain protein, etc. It would have been helpful to include the pictures of the food by category, at the very least.
There are a few short, simple sentences on each page which makes this an ideal book for a child who is beginning to read independently. The accompanying artwork gives good context clues about what is being discussed. This is helpful for young readers when trying to figure out particular words.
One gripe I have about this book is the targeted age group. The first section is geared toward ages 2-6, but seems more appropriate for children 4 years old and up. I don’t think a 2-year-old or 3-year-old would absorb this information easily unless it is presented within a light, fun storyline. The second section is geared toward ages 7-11. The text feels too sparse and simplistic for children over the age of 8. Also, a few of the topics in the second section are a bit advanced to discuss with children. The warnings about alcohol, tobacco, and drugs are broached in a very cursory way.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The story is well written, with the exception of one grammatical error (a missing apostrophe). I can’t say the story is fun or something that a child would find entertaining. Still, the concepts are easy to understand and provide a roadmap about how to lead a good life. I would recommend the book to parents and teachers as it would be a useful tool to jump-start a discussion about the right and wrong ways to act.
Dream happy be great
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