Sunday, September 1, 2019

Review - Kindergarten Luck

Kindergarten Luck
by Louise Borden
illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
Date: 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

What makes a lucky day?

One gloomy morning, Theodore found a bright, shiny penny on the way down to breakfast. There was Abraham Lincoln, face up. What luck! "Oh THANK you, Mr. Famous President!" Theodore said. And he tucked that shiny, new penny in his pocket.

Follow Theodore through a day bursting with the simple joys and endless verve of young children—a reminder of how much luck abounds in the world, and how sometimes, it's just waiting to be found.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a book about a boy and lucky penny. I don't have a problem with the premise, but I do think there's a little bit of a mismatch between it and the age of the main character. (Either that, or Theodore is in a very advanced kindergarten.)

Theodore finds a penny in his house and puts it in his pocket. For the rest of the day, he attributes anything positive to the "luck" from the penny. At the end, he generously passes the luck on to someone else.

Now, there's nothing wrong with the overall premise. Sometimes it takes something small like a lucky penny to remind us of all the wonderful things around us, things that we otherwise don't notice. But making Theodore a kindergartner is distracting, because he isn't portrayed like a five-year-old. His class writes poetry... themselves. (When I was in kindergarten, a lot of kids were still just learning their letters!) They make Matisse paintings. They can do simple addition in their heads. Is this a school for the gifted? I don't know. (It's difficult to know where this school even is. Godbout's illustrations use a calendar that I used to see in my old French immersion classes in Ontario--the week starts with Monday rather than Sunday--but the fact that Theodore finds an American penny suggests that his school is not somewhere in Canada. This could be a potential source of confusion and consternation for some parents, who might simply assume the calendar was drawn "wrong".) Also, when Theodore decides to pass on the lucky penny at the end, it struck me as a very mature thing to do. Perhaps too mature for a five-year-old, who's only gotten to experience the luck for one day. (I think most kids would try to hold on to it for a little longer than that, especially if they believed it was magical.)

I've really enjoyed Godbout's illustrations in other books, but they just don't do much for me here. I'm not sure why.

Overall, this isn't a bad book, but I found the overly precocious kindergartners kind of distracting and didn't really buy Theodore's generosity at the end. The message is good, to be sure... but I don't think the characters are all that realistic.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.17 out of 5

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