3 out of 4 stars
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The Amazing A-Muse-ing Lillian: A Play from the Page to the Stage is a children’s book written by Maria Balakis and illustrated by Lillian Balakis Feinberg. Written in the form of a play, the story includes an introductory explanation of what a play is and how it’s structured. The plot focuses on a girl named Terrie who wants to be a Hollywood writer, but is afraid of pursuing her dream. That’s where the competing forces of inspiration and fear enter the picture, in the form of Lillian, the Muse of Inspiration, and King Fovos. Along with their sidekicks, Lillian and King Fovos battle over Terrie’s mind in this humorous and unique story.
First, I applaud the author for coming up with a fresh concept for a children’s book. I have never read a children’s book that introduces the play genre while telling an interesting story at the same time. It would be a great choice for storytime at school. The students could take turns reading the different characters’ lines aloud and even consider putting on the play.
All of the characters are well drawn. Although the storyline revolves around Terrie, the “teams” take center stage as they prepare their strategies. The King’s aides include Pout, Doubt, and Miss Givings who, as can be expected, exhibit the personality traits associated with their names. Lillian has a few trusty friends, such as Taki the owl and Toula the ladybug. The conversations between Lillian and her helpers are particularly amusing.
The illustrations are cute and whimsical, but most of the pictures are small. The artwork often contains bits of dialogue which are difficult to see, due to the tiny size and hand-drawn style. Also, it would have been nice to have more illustrations. With the exception of the character introductions, there tends to be only one picture every four to seven pages.
The words and phrasing sometimes seem too advanced for kids. Although the book is light-hearted and funny, the jokes and puns are too subtle and sophisticated for children to fully appreciate.
I noticed several errors in this short book. The poor editing is a particular concern, as young readers are at the age where they are learning proper writing skills. The mistakes include an extra apostrophe (don’t’ instead of don’t), an extra hyphen before a word, formatting issues, space between a word and the period, missing periods, an incorrectly capitalized word and no space after a comma.
I rate this humorous book 3 out of 4 stars. It has a positive theme and a wise lesson for children. I would recommend this book to children ages 6-10 who enjoy fun, offbeat stories and might want to try putting on a play.
The Amazing A-Muse-ing Lillian
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