4 out of 4 stars
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Annie Ware is an adventurous girl who will take you anywhere you could want to go, even to a football game, Geaux Saints, Geaux! In Annie Ware: Adventures in Wordplay, Annie doesn’t go to New Orleans for a football game, but she does take a ride on a boat, visit the library, and spend an afternoon shopping at the mall. Her adventures are chronicled in a unique manner by D. Tennelle Smith. Smith has written a clever poem in which all of the rhyming words are homophones. Young readers can learn the differences between words that sound the same but are spelled different or words that are spelled the same but can have more than one meaning. Contextual clues and bright, full-page illustrations guide young readers through this “wordplay”.
First, I would like to make it clear that in this beautiful, educational poem, Smith does not provide the definitions of any of the homophones. The definitions are meant to be learned through context. In most cases, the context is sufficient to give the reader a clear idea of a word’s meaning. There are very few that are not obvious, but this provides elementary-aged readers the opportunity to look them up in the dictionary. One of the few improvements I would suggest is a glossary at the end listing all of the homophones and their meanings. Making the definitions more accessible would be helpful to educators who could easily incorporate this into their classrooms when teaching about homophones.
The illustrations do more than provide context and clues about the definitions of the homophones; they make the book bright and fun. When viewing the hardcopy of Annie Ware, the page on one side presents a full-length illustration of Annie in the many places she visits throughout the book. Annie is the focal point of most of the pictures, and there is very little detail surrounding her. The pictures have enough content to provide the context in which the words apply. Since the focus of the book is on learning homophones, I think the lack of detail in the images is appropriate as that makes it easier for young learners to focus on the important aspects of each image. On the pages adjacent to the illustrations, the text is presented over a lightly colored background making it very visible.
The only minor improvement I can suggest in regards to the illustrations is a problem of consistency. In most of the drawings, Annie is wearing a flower-patterned dress, but on occasion, her outfit is changed to suit the situation. At one point, Annie is planning to go to a party. She has her party attire on, but when the reader turns the page, Annie is back in her flower-patterned dress even though she is still prepping for the event.
Despite my suggestions for improvement, this is a superb learning tool. I highly recommend that any teacher who provides lessons on homophones adds this as a part of that curriculum. This is also a great book for parents of children in elementary school who are learning about homophones or recently learned about them and could benefit from a book that will help instill those lessons. Children who enjoy poetry would particularly find this book appealing. The highest praise I can give is to award Ms. Smith 4 out of 4 stars on her excellent book. I did not find a single error in the text which only added to my desire to grant Ms. Smith a high rating.
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