Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Preschool Children's Book Queen Vernita

Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: Queen Vernita’s Visitors
Author: Dawn Menge
ISBN Number: 978-1-59800-714-5
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc
Genre and Target Market: children, educational, fantasy
Publication Date: 2008
Book Length in Pages: 30

As the mother of a preschooler, I am always looking for new books to stir up my daughter’s imagination. Books with outdoor adventures and colorful, detailed pictures seem to be her favorites. When you add a fun way to expand her knowledge base, I am particularly excited to sit down and dig into a new story. The new book by Dawn Menge, titled Queen Vernita’s Visitors, meets the qualifications of both my daughter and me perfectly. I know the Queen will be a favorite bedtime character in our home for a long time to come.

The main character of Menge’s book is Queen Vernita, the ruler of a world called Oceaneer. Although she loves being a queen, Vernita has discovered that it can be lonely at the top. To diminish the isolation she feels in her castle, Queen Vernita decides to invite twelve of her friends to visit her – one for each month of the year. Queen Vernita and her friend of the month take their attention to the calendar one step further by deciding on a fun activity for each day of the week. Who wouldn’t want to have a huge snowball fight every Friday in February or eat apples right off the tree every Thursday in September? Queen Vernita is a hostess who knows how to show her friends a good time!

My experiences as both a parent and a teacher have taught me that repetition is important when teaching a new concept to a child. Menge goes through each day of the week on every page and always mentions the number of days each guest gets to visit (including the fact that Tommie only visited for twenty-eight days in February because it wasn’t a leap year). By the last few months detailed in the book, even the youngest readers will be able to recite the days of the week with you. Queen Vernita’s Visitors provides a fun and creative way to learn that Tuesday comes after Monday and so on. Just as important to the adult reader who is sharing the story with a child, I never felt like I was reciting the same material over and over again. The repetition serves its purpose without overpowering the enjoyment of learning how Queen Vernita and her guests spend their time together.

Children will love the exciting games and adventures that are laid out in this book. From jolly jump rope to climbing big pine trees to making pumpkin pies, these characters know how to keep themselves busy. Queen Vernita is not satisfied with watching TV or playing video games, and hopefully Menge’s readers will take the cue and try some of these fun activities themselves. Great books are often the catalyst for hours of imaginative fun.

The beautiful illustrations drawn by Bobbi Switzer add so much to the pleasurable experience that is Queen Vernita’s Visitors. The bright colors and large drawings can be used to tell a story all by themselves. With just enough detail to be interesting but not be too busy, the pictures can be used to encourage kids to have further discussions about the great times that Queen Vernita and her visitors have every day. Switzer’s pictures also provide a perfect opportunity for siblings to share this book. The older child can take pride in reading each day of the week while her younger counterpart can delight in the pictures of Queen Vernita as she makes the most out of her castle and its surroundings.

I love that the author used family members and friends as the inspiration for the characters in this book. Queen Vernita is based on her grandmother, which I imagine made for wonderful childhood visits! Dawn Menge has said that she hopes to use the Queen Vernita character in a series of books. I certainly hope that she follows through on this intention, as I promise that my daughter and I will cuddle together and read every one of her stories. Queen Vernita’s Visitors is a beautiful book that takes children and adults alike through a year of friendships and fun. It is a must-have addition to any kid’s library!

1 comment:

Book said...

It looks a great read! I've recently discovered Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks, DiscoveryBoxBooks They have work by acclaimed children's books illustrator Helen Oxenbury appearing in the Storybox series for September. In addition to this, they also have some great activities for rainy days: http://www.storyboxbooks.com/potatoprinting.php, http://www.adventureboxbooks.com/macaroni-picture-frames.php, http://www.discoveryboxbooks.com/skittles.php Enjoy!