- Book Style: Storybook for kids
- Reading Level: 2 (Reading With Help due to: mid-range length and some difficult vocabulary)
- Reading Length: 8-10 minutes (FYI – we never account for toddler questions)
- Illustration: Oh so simple and cute
- Age Target: 2-8 Years of Age
- Author: Allison Holland
- Author’s Page: Allison Holland
- Book Purchase Page: Lulu – $13.59 USD today, $15.99 USD regular price
- Social Media Links: N/A
Raspberry Sassafras is a cute little children’s story about Jane and her cow…Raspberry Sassaras (from here on out, I’m just calling her Raspberry). Raspberry was, at one point, a farm cow. One day, Jane and her family came out to pick a dog but Jane ended up picking a big brown and white puppy instead. That puppy was Raspberry, of course. Raspberry moves out with Jane and her family and they become the best of friends.
The book continues on and shows us how Jane and Raspberry live. The author (Allison Holland) shows us just how great a cow’s life is in a big city and we learn all kinds of things about cows. In the end, we learn the ultimate secret about cows. They can fly!
The best thing about this story is clearly the surprise ending. The story appears to be a normal (and abnormally cute) story about a girl and her pet cow, until Raspberry decides to start flying. My little guy immediately asked if cows could fly and I had a great time playing into what the story was telling him. I won’t ruin all of what the story says, but suffice it to say that I laughed, my toddler laughed, and I know he’s still wondering whether or not cows are flying around the farmer’s fields. I love it when an author plays with the story, and I think Allison’s done an excellent job here.
Another thing that I found amazing about this book is just how short it felt, while being what I would call a relatively longer toddler appropriate story. When I first leafed through the pages, I thought that maybe this would be a little too long and that some of the pages would take too long for my toddler to pay attention to. Instead, what I found was a story that kept my child engaged all throughout. From what I can gather, this was accomplished by the author specifically choosing easy to read vocabulary and by using all specifics in her descriptions (ie. the airplane sounded angry). Those two things combine to make the read incredibly easy.
Finally, I think that the story is simply fun. It’s happy, it’s fun, it’s light, and there’s no part of the story that drags on. Jane and Raspberry are always doing something fun to think about and they’re always doing something that children like to do. From eating ice cream, noodles, and potato chips (and flowers), to snuggling up in a cozy bed, there’s nothing here that a young child won’t relate to and think warm, happy memories.
Now, I think we all know that illustrations are an important part of any children’s book. It can’t be overstated, and if the illustrations miss there mark, your little one is likely to tune out. Agree? I thought so.
When I described the illustrations above I called them simple and cute. That’s exactly what they are, but I feel like there’s a level of genius in what Allison Holland has done here. It’s not simply because these are easy to draw (because I’m not sure they are). It’s an intentional choice to bring your child’s attention to the important things on the page. It’s also an intentional choice to let the characters shine through. Your child won’t spend time looking at intricate flowers, but instead will look at Jane’s expression. Your toddler won’t spend time looking at a ton of clouds in the sky, they’ll spend time seeing Raspberry flying through the air.
What I really love about this is that it drives home understanding for kids. They’re going to listen to the words in the story (or read the words) and then connect the pictures immediately. It’s easy for them to connect the look of a word to the scene and I think that makes this a great tool for learning and development of reading skills.
Now, I think I’ve met a pretty unique author. Allison has shared a bit of her story with me and I have to say that she’s funny and quite interesting. Need proof? Here’s a picture of her.
Now despite this picture’s obvious anger, Allison tells me that she had a great childhood and that she grew up very happy. What she does tell me is that she feels this way whenever someone makes her dress up. Personally, I relate.
The thing that struck me most about Allison is the fact that she has always loved being a writer. However, like so many of us, she found the corporate world to be alluring. Something about a regular paycheck (and likely, food) kept her away from doing what she truly loved. That obviously hasn’t lasted, as she’s now written an entire series of Raspberry Sassafras children’s books!
In the end, this is nothing short of a great storybook in a fantastic series of children’s books built by an author who loves doing what she’s doing. There’s literally nothing not to like, and just a ton to love. We’ve now added this book to our growing list of favorites and I can honestly say that my little guy loved this book. I’m betting he’ll continue to love it, and at the price of $13.59 USD (on sale, FYI), there’s no reason to hold back. Head on over to Lulu.com and purchase your copy of Raspberry Sassafras. I’d suggest looking at all the books in the series, as they’re all sure to be fantastic!
Until next time, Smash, Crash, and Learn!