4 out of 4 stars
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"I hear you. I see you, and I love you," are the words Molly has whispered to her furry friend, Maggie Mu, since the day she brought her home from the pet store. The Many Moods of Maggie Mu and Molly, Too by Julie Fox is an educational children's book that teaches young readers how to identify their emotions and learn to advocate for themselves.
Beautifully illustrated by Brent Metcalf, the book features colorful art on every page, as well as cute characters including Maggie's hedgehog, who makes appearances in random places and is sure to delight young readers. In addition to the whimsical illustrations, the adventures Molly shares with her lovable pet will entertain young readers while teaching them vocabulary related to moods and emotions. Even though she is a young girl, Molly who struggles in class and is overwhelmed by background noise, sets a positive example for children who learn differently, by stepping outside of her comfort zone and requesting help from her teacher.
This is the type of book that is a pleasure to read to children. It's entertaining and well-written, and the illustrations are lovely. The overall message is teaching children self-advocacy, and I applaud the sensitive manner that the author introduces Molly's different way of learning. It isn't the focal point of the story and doesn't define who she is. Molly mentions having difficulty tuning out noise and focusing at school. The emotions she experiences are taught on a child's level. The author seamlessly weaves the vocabulary into the storyline, and throughout the book, the new words are subtly underlined in gray and included in a glossary at the end of the book. Initially, it may be necessary to explain the meanings of certain words. For example, according to the glossary, Maggie Mu is a nickname for "maguntuk," an Inuit word for howler. However, most children will learn the vocabulary by reading and rereading the story. Young readers will relate to a little girl who loves her dog, sometimes gets frustrated, and is learning to ask for help. Honestly, I was hooked from the time I read, "I hear you. I see you, and I love you." I can almost hear my grandson repeating the words with me, and I look forward to reading it with him soon.
I was equally impressed by the talented illustrator; not only because the illustrations evoke an emotional response based on the close bond between Molly and her pet, but also by the abundance of personality Maggie exudes. Young readers will be quite taken with Maggie Mu. I was particularly charmed by the hedgehog, Harry, who popped up randomly with appropriate accessories for the occasion and was usually placed somewhere that wasn't immediately obvious. I know from experience that children will be amused by searching for him on each page, followed by giggles and exclamations. "There's the hedgehog--look what he's wearing!"
I really can't think of anything I disliked about this book. In addition to the delightful way it teaches self-advocacy to young readers and its exceptional illustrations, it's also flawlessly edited. I'm pleased to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to young readers and parents, teachers, and grandparents of children ranging from preschool through second grade. It may also be resourceful for those who read to children who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
The Many Moods of Maggie Mu and Molly, Too
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