- Book Style: Storybook for children (with a moral)
- Reading Level: 2 (Read with Help due to: some advanced vocabulary, longer pages)
- Reading Length: 7-10 minutes (FYI – we never account for questions from your little ones)
- Illustration: Simple, fun, old-style cartoon
Lisa McCoo is a storybook for young children that tells the story of a young lady (ahem, named Lisa McCoo) who lost her kite. She then tries a number of tactics to get it back, and finally succeeds. Each time Lisa struggles, she continues to press on with the kind of confidence parents love to see in their children. The author, Baldwin Saer, has come up with a way of telling this story and teaching your children how to have confidence, just like Lisa.
What immediately strikes you about this book is the multitude of fun words chosen by our author. Baldwin chooses not only words that are fun, but even throws in a few made up ones. Now, I know when I read some books with words that are made up, I worry that they’re interfering with my child’s learning. I can honestly say that with this book, I didn’t worry about it at all. My little guy loved the new words because they were fun, but also because they were used to rhyme with another word. My sense is that in general, the author was trying to teach those words to our children through the use of these rhymes. I don’t know what a bang-a-rang doo-ey is, but I’m pretty sure my child will know what a buoy is! Get me?
Before I get too deep into the book itself though, I want to talk about our author. To me, understanding this author a little bit adds to the story’s depth. I also think that it adds to the importance of the message when you understand that Baldwin Saer has literally been working on this book in four different states and for ten solid years. I don’t mean that he spent each and every night on this, but when you think about a project for that long and over that span of your own lifetime, you know it’s going to come out just the way it was meant to.
What I also really love is that this story really comes from the heart. Baldwin didn’t make this book because he wanted to make a living. He does that in other ways. Not the least of which is landscaping, making music, or illustrating…wait, did I just describe the perfect ladies’ man? In any case, he really just did this because he had a passion for this story and wanted to tell it to children. He wanted to give kids his message because it was a positive one and because he could tell it in this fun way.
Now, given that….
As I said previously, the author is using rhyming to drive home new vocabulary for your children. He’s using a really well thought out cadence in each line, which makes it easy to read and easier for your child to retain. As the rhymes hit and the rhythm flowed, I could feel my little guy learning about Lisa and her lost kite.
For me, the best part of the book is the way the message/moral is delivered. Our author makes sure that the moral of the story hits your little one like a ton of bricks. What do I mean by this?
Well, every time Lisa struggles with getting her kite back, the author reaffirms that she “knows just what to do”. Lisa then comes up with a new, ingenious method of retrieving her kite; each method she tries is better than the last, and each method is more fun. Each time she tries and fails, you’re brought back to the same picture of little Lisa with her arms crossed, her head held high, and her face as sure as ever.
Your child will learn that Lisa simply tries again and again and again until she succeeds. They’ll learn that failure isn’t the end, and they’ll even start to learn that staying calm in the face of failure helps you to succeed. That’s some pretty deep stuff, but it’s amazing how fast children catch on to things like this. I even tried to remind my toddler about Lisa McCoo when struggling with a puzzle and I saw him re-double his efforts. It was an interesting benefit to this story and one of the reasons I really enjoy this story.
Finally, the illustrations in this book were done simply, but they were done this way intentionally. What’s more, I think it really works for this book. Again, if the point of a book is the story, then wild and crazy illustrations don’t help with educational value. My focus whenever I look at these books is on educational value, and so I like illustrations that are fun, but add to the story and what my child learns. With this book, I felt like every picture added something but never took the focus away from the story.
I also really enjoy the simple style of illustration and the old-style of coloring that goes along with it. I felt like I was watching an old Saturday morning cartoon unfold every time I turned the page. Which I love….
What’s interesting about the style chosen here is that depth shows up really easily. When a small adjustment is made to clothing, or to a tree, or to any object, you can really tell. Take a moment to look at the bottom right of Lisa’s red coat in the picture above. You should instantly see what I mean. There’s depth there, and it’s done simply through a little darkening.
In any case, I can safely recommend Lisa McCoo by Baldwin Saer. This is a great little storybook, told in a fun way, wrapped with a strong moral message. There’s really nothing not to like. If you haven’t already run on over to Amazon.com or over to www.lisamccoo.com, then I suggest you do. It’s only $9.99 USD for a paperback copy of this great book!
Until next time, smash, crash, and learn!