What You Need to Know:|
• From the author of the beloved Maisy books.
• You will see most toddlers/young children you know in the character of Dog.
• Wonderful read-aloud and fantastic illustrations, much in the style of Maisy.
• See note about last page in write-up below.
Dog, the protaganist in I'm the Best, is of the uber-competivie segment of our society. Apparently, according to him, he is the best at EVERYTHING. Sound familiar? Most children (and lets face it, some adults are stuck there) go through a faze of declaring their superiority at any and all activities. And unless you temper their enthusiasm for their self-proclaimed excellence (but careful not to squash self-esteem (!) isn't parenting fun?:), you might have a monster on your hands. Cousin's does a sweet job of giving Dog his inevitable comeuppance. Eventually, one of the friends to whom Dog is proclaiming his eminence stands up to Dog, and explains he is not best. Dog is shocked and immediately remorseful. Dog says:
"I'm horrible at everything.
I'm just a silly show-off.
I don't even have wings.
And I 'm mean to my friends.
And all Dog's friends declare their forgiveness and all is well. Now the book could have ended here, but instead Cousins added one more page. On the last page, upon hearing he has the best fluffly ears from his kind friends trying to make him feel better, Dog declares:
"Oh phew! Obviously having beautiful fluffly hears is the most important thing. So I am the best."
I am very conflicted about this page! I think it is amusing and adds the perfect little ironic ending, therefore keeping the story from being too saccarine - too sweet, and I like that. My confict, though, lies in the fact the intended audience of toddlers are very concrete learners. And this last page, left undiscussed, will let them think being a braggart is just fine. So if you choose to enjoy this story all the way through, make sure to discuss!
I can't end this write-up without talking about Cousin's illustrations. Unless you have been stuck under a rock, you are familiar with her primitive, colorful style. You can't really escape Maisy if you have young children in your life, what with all the books, the tv show and all the merchandise out there. And I'm the Best is done in the same style. I read in an interview of Cousins (I am paraphrasing), that she derives more inspiration from walking through an elementary school than an art gallery. And it shows! I think this style is very unintimidating to children and a great motivator to find their inner artist.
2010, 32 pages
Excellent Read-Aloud, Friendship, Character/Values
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