Reviews of Children's BooksThe Internet Writing Journal
The Five Fingered Family by Shakta Kaur Khalsa, Illustrated by Siri-Kartar K. KhalsaThe Brookfield Reader, May 2000.
Picture Book, 32 pages
The story of the five fingered family originated in the Punjab region of Northern India, and is charmingly retold in this beautifully illustrated picture book. In the magical land of India, there lived a family who was so dedicated to each other that they were like the five fingers of a hand. When Papa Angulee has to inform his wife and three children that their home and business was destroyed by fire, the family bands together to travel to find a new life. They stop in a forest to make dinner and to spend the night. But a horrible old troll sees them, and jumps out of the tree to threaten them. By working together as a team, the family defeats the troll and wins a fabulous treasure, which enables them to start a new business and build a new home. But when the family's greedy next door neighbors decide to try their luck with the troll, a very different result ensues, driving home the lessons of unity, loyalty and family love.
Former Montessori teacher Shakta Kaur Khalsa does an excellent job of taking this legend and making it accessible to modern readers. The illustrations by Siri-Kartar K. Khalsa are absolutely superb. Rendered in the 18th century Moghul style, the paintings are colorful and vibrant. The people are dressed in the style of the Punjab, and their faces vividly reflect the emotions of the story. Parents can use this story both to teach lessons about other cultures, as well as to talk about the important concepts of family unity and teamwork. Highly recommended.
Touch and Feel HalloweenDK, July 2000.
Board Book, 12 pages
Halloween is almost here, and Dorling Kindersley has provided a charming accompaniment to the holiday for the board book set. A happy little boy dressed in a wizard's costume invites us to come and join his Halloween party. Children can feel the wizard's smooth velvet cloak, touch the pirate's rough beard (if you dare!), feel the scarecrow's scratch sack shirt, stroke the black cat's silky fur, and touch the pumpkin's waxy skin. Each page features DK's trademark beautiful photos on a glossy, thick board background, making for a sturdy book which won't fall apart, like so many board books tend to do. This would be a great addition to your child's Touch and Feel book collection, and is sure to make Halloween even more fun that it already is.
Whoo's There? by Charles ReasonerPrice Stern Sloan, 1999.
Board Books, 14 pages
Just in time for Halloween are new and old versions of Charles Reasoner's popular glow in the dark board books. "Whoo's there?" is the cry of a darling brown owl, with large glow in the dark eyes and a somewhat confused expression on his face. All in costume are a cat, a bat and a bear. "Whoo-whoo's outside?" asks the owl. "A witch on a moonlight right!" is the reply. Accompanying each page is a charming illustration of various creatures that one might encounter on Halloween night. The witch is not scary at all. Although she is green, with big eyes, her expression is benevolent (and unthreatening) as she rides past the moon on her broomstick. The owl ends his journey by asking the child, "Whoo whoo are you?" giving the child the chance to respond himself to the friendly owl's question. This Halloween board book is certain to be a favorite, especially as the child sees other children getting ready for the holiday by putting on costumes. The illustrations are colorful and cheery, and the big, glow-in the dark eyes provide a fun (and not too spooky) introduction to Halloween which small tots are sure to enjoy.
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