Sunday, September 04, 2016

B is for Big Ben

B is for Big Ben. Pamela Duncan Edwards. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: A is for the Anglo-Saxons...

Premise/plot: The book is an alphabet book for a much, much older audience. The "main" narrative perhaps is simple enough that it could be read aloud to elementary students. But each page has paragraphs of side text that are weighty indeed. This information would not be of interest to say, first graders or second graders, and perhaps even of limited appeal to older children, say fourth and fifth graders. Emphasis on limited: there will always be readers--no matter their age--who do love HISTORY and are interested in CULTURE.

My thoughts: Well, I really wanted to love this one. I did. I didn't dislike it by any means. I preferred the weighty "side" text that is packed with a LOT of information. I was not overly impressed by the alphabet side of it. For example, "F is for Famous Folk." It goes on in poetic form to add: "There have been many famous people from England through the years--many artists, poets, and writers, scientists, and engineers." Now in the aside, readers learn about Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charles Kingsley, William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Margaret Thatcher, Queen Victoria, and Robert Scott.

Some of the choices seemed both random and generic. (For example: "Historic Sites" and "Famous Folk." Others seem to be specific and meaningful. (For example, "London," "Guy Fawkes," "Domesday Book," "William Shakespeare," and "Union Jack.")

I found it very informative. But I'm not sure how kids would really respond to it.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Joy Weese Moll 8:37 AM  

Cute idea. But it does lead to the question of who it's for exactly.

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