Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Read, Read, Read said the Baby: Stanley the Builder by William Bee

This is a new series of board books from Peachtree. William Bee is the author of such delightfully unique books as Beware the Frog, so this is a bit of a departure for him, but I fell in love as soon as I saw the cover!

I reviewed this from an ARC and have not yet seen the finished product. The publicist said they would have padded covers (which I have an irrational hatred of) but that they are very sturdily made and promised I would not hate them. [See next week's review for analysis of format]. From the publisher descriptions, it sounds like a large size for a board book - roughly 8x8 inches - with reinforced pages similar to a board book.

The end paper repeat the color scheme of the front cover with a bold swathe of orange and the author's name. There is a full spread showing a colorful variety of tools before the title page.

The story features Stanley (a hamster with a little bit of a tail) who is asked by Myrtle the mouse to build her a house. Stanley, with the help of Charlie the mouse and a variety of colorful machines, goes through the basic steps of construction, starting with clearing the land and continuing on to make a foundation, lay bricks, put on the roof, and the finishing touches of painting and landscaping. Stanley finishes the day at his own house with dinner, bath, and bed.

Not all of the tools from the initial spread are used in the illustrations, but enough of them to make a good seek and find activity. They are also all related to building things and could make a good discussion of what each thing is and how it's used (note -  I have no idea what the serrated round green thing is). The pictures are extremely attractive and perfect for the young age of the intended audience. The bold lines and bright colors instantly attract attention and the simple style, set against white backgrounds, will be perfect to hold the attention of wiggly toddlers.

The text is minimal and irresistibly reminds me of another series of process picture books from my childhood - the Teddy Bear series by Joan and Selby Worthington. You probably never came across these, they're very British and difficult to find, but basically they feature a teddy bear going through a daily routine in a number of different jobs. The style of the writing is much simpler, but it has the same basic feel to it and I'm thrilled to find a similar story with the same delightful sequencing. Kids love the "first, and then, and then" of basic storytelling when they're young and this catches it just right.

My only quibble with these is that Myrtle "helps" with her new house by bringing the male characters drinks. Couldn't she have helped instead of Charlie?

Verdict: While I'm still waiting to report on the physical format, I think I can definitely say we have a winning formula for a new series that is going to be extremely popular among children and parents alike and a great choice for storytime. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781561458011; Published 2014 by Peachtree; ARC provided by publisher

This is the second stop on the Stanley the Builder blog tour. Check out more reviews at:
Monday 9/1- Green Bean Teen Queen
Tuesday 9/2Geo Librarian and Kid Lit Reviews
Wednesday 9/3Chat with Vera
Thursday 9/4Blue Owl and Kiss the Book
Friday 9/5The Fourth Musketeer

1 comment:

Alysa Stewart said...

So I won these in a contest (and subsequently reviewed them on Everead). The padded covers are not very padded -- just enough to give them some dimension. I like 'em. Definitely sturdy. And I agree: charming books!