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Summary: Amanda loves being in the barn. She grooms and feeds the animals, and she especially loved how neat everything was. Her bedroom was a different story. In fact, her friends preferred being in the barn to spending time in Amanda's room. Since they could always go to the barn, she didn't need a neat room. A nudge from dad and an afternoon nap help Amanda realize the error in her thinking. This picture book offers a story about choices, consequences, and changing our ways.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, independent reading, read aloud book, remedial reader
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 8; read yourself: 9 to 11
Interest Level: 5 to 9
Reading Level: 5.1
Age of Child: Read with 7-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: When we first asked, our daughter liked the story and wanted us to read it again right away. Then, as we started, she changed her mind. She said the horse looked silly and couldn't believe that cows batted their eyebrows; then she went to pick another book.
Adult Reader Reaction: The story offers a nice twist on the your-room-looks-like-a-pig-sty theme. The idea that Amanda liked to have things neat and organized helped reinforce the idea that you can have that in more than one place, and that it takes work. We were glad to see that the animals' appearance in her room turned out to be a dream. They are illustrated in an unusual way (scared ducks are smiling), so you weren't sure whether this had leaped into a fantasy story.
Pros: Kids will find humor (and maybe themselves) in this story about being responsible.
Cons: The illustrations were a little off-putting. The animals had human expressions that didn't always fit the narrative description, the horse was always up on two feet, and the hay bales were blurs filling a page. Amanda apparently washes the windows in her room, but they are never seen in the illustrations. But when you're reading to a child who "reads" the story by looking at the pictures, it's noticed.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a very useful story, and the lesson is told with humor. It is not a book that will grab a child's interest to read and re-read again.
Educational Themes: The story offers a clear lesson in being responsible. Given that Amanda did show responsibility for caring for the animals, it is easy to show how it is important to extend that to other parts of your life (i.e., you must be responsible for yourself, too).
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 5.1
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, life lessons, family, humor