SHARING, BORING? OR AMAZING! is a lively picture book for young children in which Maya’s teachers send home a letter telling her parents about an upcoming show-and-share project, based on the alphabet and taking place daily for a month. Ms. A and Ms. Z of the Bright Star Preschool tell parents that each object their child shares should be “safe” and small enough to fit in a school backpack. “No pets allowed!” they stress. But day by day, Maya is frustrated by having all her great ideas shot down in favor of what she considers boring choices. She thinks it would be lots more interesting to share a live alligator or her baby brother rather than illustrating the letters “A” and “B” with an apple and a book. Maya’s parents don’t appear in the book. Instead, they are most likely the offstage voices of reason making emphatic statements like “NO, don’t touch them!” when she suggests show-and-tell fireworks to illustrate the letter “F.” Instead, she shares a flower and a frown.
Whether children listen to a read-aloud of SHARING, BORING? OR AMAZING! or peruse it during silent reading, they probably will be interested to learn which of Maya’s acceptable choices eventually make her smile and enjoy the sharing process. It’s fun to track Maya’s facial expressions to find the story’s turning point (the letter “P”) where she finally transforms from crabby to happy. Unfortunately, the illustrations—mostly three per page—are too small for a child two or three rows back in a group to see all the details clearly. Larger page size would improve the book’s use in teaching situations. Nevertheless, it’s easy to imagine rollicking read-alouds at school or the library during which kids emphatically answer “No” or “Yes” to Maya’s ideas and add suggestions of their own. Also, Maya’s choice of “quiet” for the letter “Q” can inspire what educators call a teachable moment—a quick conversation in which students think of other words that represent alphabet letters but aren’t things you can touch. Maya’s learning adventure is fun from beginning to close when she accepts her diploma while celebrating graduation from preschool.
Author-illustrator Deven Jatkar has created a winner in SHARING, BORING? OR AMAZING! that librarians, parents, and teachers can rely on to entertain kids and help encourage literacy.
~Alicia Rudnicki for IndieReader