Friday, August 1, 2014

Book Review: Ten Busy Brownies by Talia Haven

Ten Busy Brownies
By Talia Haven
Illustrations by Sytiva Sheehan
Publisher: Keith Publications
Published: Nov. 6, 2013

Amazon Synopsis:

Count the brownies up to 10 as they help out with chores around a old cottage house.

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My Thoughts:

Ten Busy Brownies is a rhyming, counting book for young children using Brownies from English or Scottish folklore. Brownies are tiny creatures, many times smaller than a human that help to do domestic chores around the home at night while everyone is asleep in exchange for small gifts of food.

Each number rhyme covers two pages, but only one page is visible at a time, which does make the counting a bit difficult at times. This is compounded by the fact that in some pictures, the entire brownie is not visible. Sometimes it is represented by just a hand (as when feeding the chickens). This can mislead young children into thinking that the incorrect number of brownies is represented on the page.

For the most part the rhythm and the rhyme work well, but on a few of the lines the rhythms seems to be just slightly off to me. These first two lines a little awkward, while the following two sound much better.

“Five busy brownies sweep the dust with brooms.
Chase the spiders out of rooms.
Six busy brownies stop to take a break.
For a feast of cream and honey cake.”

 I also noticed that there was a period after each line of the poem even though the sentence was not complete until after the end of the couplet (if the couplet even made a sentence). There should not have been a period after each line of the poem at any rate.

The illustrations were colourful and unique. However, I also thought that the brownies appeared to be rather scary. I think they might frighten young children. Some of them appeared angry or mean-looking. Many of the brownies seemed rather freakish with their bulging eyes and bulbous noses. I suppose they were to appear to be related to elves with their pointed ears.

In the pictures, the brownies appeared to be the same size as humans and not many times smaller than humans. I mention this because on Ms. Haven’s blog, she has a comparison chart of the size difference between humans and brownies. The illustrations in Ten Busy Brownies do not reflect that difference in size.

I did not particularly like the illustrations, and not just due to the brownies. The animals were rather freakish as well. For example there was as chicken whose head resembled both a fish and the head of a strange being with a beak and a mouth. I had to look at the creature for a few minutes before I realized it was a chicken with its legs sticking out sideways.

I loved that the brownies were helping with the household chores and I thought that this would be a good way to talk with children about how they could also help with the chores too. The brownies lived in the home and worked for gifts of food. The children also live in the home and were given food. Everyone participates and everyone receives something for their participation.

For a book whose learning purpose is to teach counting, rhythm and rhyme to young children, I gave 10 Busy Brownies 2 stars out of 5. The illustrations were a big part of the reason for the rating.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

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