Friday, July 5, 2013

Book Review: Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Funny story that revolves around word play
Cons: Some phrases aren't used today
The Bottom Line
Amelia's debut
Filled with the word play and laughs
That make her famous




First Day of Work Jitters?  Can't be Worse than Amelia Bedelia's Experience

Almost 50 years ago, the world was introduced to Amelia Bedelia, the maid who does exactly what she is told.  While there are now many books featuring her exploits, the first is still a classic.

It's Amelia Bedelia's first day of work for the Rogers, and they have to leave her alone for several hours.  But they've left her a list of things to do.  After starting a pie as a surprise, she begins to go down the list.  Change the towels.  Dust the furniture.  Draw the drapes.  The only problem is, Amelia Bedelia does exactly what she is told.  What will the Rogers think when they get home?

All the books in this series are built around the dual meanings of words, and if there is a way for Amelia Bedelia to take something wrong, she will.  Sometimes, these books show their age (who says draw the drapes or put out the lights these days?), but even if kids don't get the jokes right away, it's still a chance for them to expand their vocabulary as they learn what the Rogers really wanted her to do.

Like the books that followed this one, the story is simple and rather formulaic.  Amelia Bedelia does a bunch of stuff wrong, the Rogers see it, but her baking saves the day.  Like with most formulas, it's how it is executed that proves most important, and here it works well.  Being the first book, the jokes and the outcome are a little unexpected, although it is easy to guess what Amelia Bedelia will do wrong when you read the instruction.

The book I checked out from the library includes illustrations by Fritz Siebel.  While his take on the characters is different from Lynn Sweat (who illustrated most of the books), his drawings perfectly capture the absurdity of what Amelia Bedelia does.

This is an "I Can Read" book.  While it wouldn't work for the very beginning readers, most of the vocabulary would be perfect for a child beginning to stretch their wings with reading.  A few words (meringue comes to mind) will require an adult to help sound it out, but most of it they can read on their own.

Amelia Bedelia is a classic character, and the book that first introduced her is a classic as well.  Don't hesitate to introduce your kids to Amelia Bedelia.

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