Book Review: Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish

  • Preschool-Age 7
  • Illustrated by Ken Daley
  • Annick Press

 

You may have seen on Facebook, Twitter or other social media the call for publisher’s to produce more diverse books. When I was a children’ librarian in the inner city I struggled to find books that the kids I worked with could relate to. Illustrations skewed towards traditional families and more northern European features. And the multicultural books that were published had heavy themes and mature content that young children would struggle to relate to.

Joseph’s Big Ride is a wonderful book that brings together the universal experience of being a child and the life of a child living as a refugee in camps and in America. All children will respond to the childhood bucket list item of riding a bike. But Farish brings a sensitivity through Joseph’s story of kids who long to participate in this rite of passage but life circumstances have kept them from it. Although it could have been a heavy topic of life as a child refugee, Joseph’s story reminds us we are all children with similar dreams and goals. Instead of differences separating the children it brings them together.

The book is beautifully illustrated with vibrant, rich pictures. As noted on the back cover the illustrations are modeled after the illustrators African-Caribbean roots. The pictures are engaging and draw the reader in along with helping tell the story.

The text is just as beautiful proving that children’s books can be literary works. Farish uses metaphors, similes, alliteration, assonance and more to bring the story to life. The carefully thought out text makes this book the perfect read a loud and, although young kids aren’t ready to write their own rhetorical devices, the repetition of such tools in the books they hear will build future readers and discerning students.

The book builds phonological awareness by using onomatopoeia which is a fun way for kids to hear different sounds that they will use as they learn to sound out words on their own. The strong narrative will build reading comprehension. The vocabulary is sophisticated but also approachable in the text. Your child will walk away with a stronger personal dictionary of words to draw from as they experience the world around them. (What are the 6 pre-literacy skills?)

This is a great book to use as a guide when selecting books with your child at the bookstore or library. Not all books are created equal and what we look for as parents in books are stories that engage our children (and us too!) while helping build the skills that will provide the stepping stones for future reading success.

Happy Reading!

Other Books By this Author:

 

Book Review: The Girl Who Saved Yesterday by Julius Lester

Preschool-school age

Fairy tales, folk tales and fables are important stories for our children to read and to have read to them. Psychology Today says the stories are universal and help children express his or her own feelings of anger, fear, shock. Imagination Soup has a blog post that says among the many skills fairytales help kids build it teaches them resiliency and how to handle problems. I like fairytales, folktales and fables because they help teach emotions and empathy.

We don’t only look to fairytales to teach our kids emotional lessons. They are also great resources for building print motivation and narrative skills and reading comprehension. Some of the best illustrations are in the retelling of familiar stories. And because these are stories our children hear again and again and again they are able to use these stories as guides in building their own stories.

Julius Lester is the author of more than twenty books. In his most recent picture book he combines the classic fairytale, folktale and fable structure to his own experiences growing up in the inner city. His protagonist is a girl, raised by trees after her parents die, returns to the village that abandoned her to remind them how important the past is for their future survival.

The language is beautiful, poetic and meant to be read aloud. The word pictures are as vibrant as the illustrations on the page. It is a cautionary tale and a tale of resiliency all in one. Lester created a story that is as important for parents to read as it is to the kids they read to.

Fairytales aren’t meant to be read one time. This is one of those books you will return to time and time again. Not only will it help build familiarity but your children will learn universal themes of responsibility, remembrance and hope.

Happy Reading!

What are your favorite classic tales?

 

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click a picture on the page it will link you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I receive a percentage of the sale. I am not paid to review books. My opinions are mine and mine alone.)