Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Review: Berenstains' A Book by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: A fun list
Cons: Little more than a list of things that begin with A.
The Bottom Line
A list of items
Needs more creativity
So not "the" A list

Absolutely Awful?  Nope.  Just Average

I don't think my family stumbled on the Berenstain Bear B Book until my brother came along, but I know all four of us loved that book.  So when I was in my local library the other day and stumbled across Berenstains' A Book, I was expecting another funny trip through the letter A.  Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as the one I already knew.

One day, some ants get angry and start advancing.  They advance across an acorn, an apple, and an airplane, but they are just getting warmed up.  Why are they advancing?

Really, this book is just a list of things that start with the letter A.  Yes, the other one just did the same thing with B, but it combined things so each thing listed included multiple words.  Here, we just get one word per thing the ants marched across.

Plus I can't turn off the logic part of my brain.  Why would the ants march across all of Arizona?  Especially for the reason they do.  I know, I know, I'm thinking too logically about a kid's book.  But it really bothers me.

The book claims to be an easy reader.  I will certainly grant that there are few words used.  However, that doesn't make a book an easy reader.  I bet that most beginning readers would stumble on words like apartment and avenue to name two.  Yes, kids will begin to pick up on the words based on the pictures and the simple text, but reading my memorization is a very limited skill.

Now this isn't to say the book is all bad.  The picture are certainly fun.  The lines of animals and other things following the ants to find out why they are advancing angrily is fun to look at.  Read with the right inflections and enthusiasm, I bet that parents and kids would really like the book.

But I can't get over the fact that it is just a list.  It's a fun list, but it doesn't have the creative push to make it really great.  Plus the list of things that the ants cross is straightforward.  While some of it doesn't make much sense, it's only mildly amusing, never rising to the level of absurd or funny.

So I can only give three stars to Berenstains' A Book.  More creativity in the story and writing would have made it a winner, I'm sure.

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