Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Book Review Contest: Little Miss Shy

Title: Little Miss Shy
Author/Illustrator: Roger Hargreaves
Reviewer: Superha

I was never much of a reader growing up. Just ask my sister. She’ll tell you that I spent more time outdoors than in. In fact, I ne’er did see a basketball, tree, or bike that I didn’t like. I used to tease my older sis about her bookworm tendencies. I was a true tomboy… a terror on two legs, really. I’ve mellowed out since then. But I do remember that one of the only series of books that I really enjoyed were the “Little Miss” and “Mr. Men” books by Roger Hargreaves. Almost everyone can find a part of themselves in at least one of the characters. He’s got a ton of them (meet them all on the Mr. Men.com website) [and see Superha's blog for a full hyperlinked character list--somebody was busy last night!--ed.].

“Mr. Tickle” made me laugh (it’s also the most popular “Mr. Men” book), “Little Miss Chatterbox” was cool because my Mom actually got “Little Miss Chatterbox” matching t-shirts for me and my sis, and “Little Miss Shy” is just so darned cute. Seriously, how could anyone not love her bashful little face? And those teeny tiny bangs?

I think I loved the intricate weaving of the storylines, the profound lessons, and the complexity of the syntax in Hargreaves’ books. Alright, in all honesty, I loved the simplicity of the tales, the exaggeration of all the protagonists’ characteristics, and the way everything comes together at the end. Each book is only about 30 pages long and half of it is illustrations (the drawings are fun and easy for kids to understand). It wasn’t a big time commitment on my part. I could read one of these and still hit the sidewalk with my skateboard before the sun went down.

I bought a bunch of these books for my daughter Ashley just before her first birthday. I would read them to her and act out all the characters. It felt so amazing to read something to your child while at the same time remembering what it was like to be one yourself. Since Ash is one rambunctious little girl, the theme for her first birthday party was actually “Little Miss Trouble” (we handed out copies of the various characters as party favors). But I do hope that Ashley takes to books a bit sooner than I did. I wish I had started reading earlier on in life. I eventually went on to take advanced english literature and journalism classes in high school, major in english and communication in college, and become a TV news reporter so I guess I ain’t half bad (I know, I know… ain’t ain’t a word).

Anyway, “Little Miss Shy” is a wonderful book about a super introverted little girl (she’s blue but I’m guessing she’s a girl or perhaps an uncredited Smurf?) who’s so shy, she won’t even leave her house called Thimble Cottage. She grew her own food so she wouldn’t have to go shopping. Then, one day, she received a big knock on her door from the postman delivering an invitation from Mr. Funny to attend a party full of … people! Oh, no. Not people (Soylent green is PEOPLE, but that’s a different story altogether)! Poor, Little Miss Shy. She’s up day and night worrying about the party. She even cries because she wishes she weren’t so shy. I like that many of Hargreaves’ stories have something that most kids identify with. Stories like this have helped so many children over the years. I enjoyed “Mr. Tall” because I was always one of the tallest girls in class growing up. I think I’ve been about 5′9″ since the 5th grade. I also have a “Mr. Tall” t-shirt that I wear occasionally. But enough about me. Back to the book. Does Little Miss Shy overcome her fear and go to the party anyway? And is there someone out there even more shy than Little Miss Shy? In perfect O. Henry fashion, there’s a great twist at the end of most of these books. I won’t give it away here, but you and your own “Little Miss Fun” or “Mr. Mischief” will definitely enjoy it.

You have until this Friday, February 23, to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest to win some great new books from Kane/Miller Book Publishers. Click here for details and send your submissions to daddyinastrangeland@mac.com.

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