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Summary: Arlo is an armadillo, and a cute one, at that. In Arlo Makes a Friend (the first book), Arlo meets and becomes friends with Jack. Now, Jack is inviting Arlo to come out and play. Arlo looks at the gray, windy day and doesn’t see any possibilities for fun. Then Jack reminds him that it’s a perfect day for kite flying. The wind, it turns out, is too strong for Arlo’s kite, and it breaks away. Just as he and Jack head out on a search, it starts to rain. Jack turns back, but Arlo keeps going. He has to find his kite. He follows the string, rolling it up as he goes. Arlo was so happy to find his kite, but then he realized he was lost and alone, and his path was gone. How was he going to get home? He relied on instinct — armadillos have a strong sense of smell — and he used his to “smell” his way home. This is a picture book story about friendship, getting lost, and problem solving.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read
Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 7; read yourself: 6 to 9
Interest Level: 3 to 8
Reading Level: 0.5
Age of Child: Read with an 8-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter instantly recognized that there was danger ahead, but wanted us to keep reading anyway.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a fun, fun book. It is a picture book that is a great choice for kids learning to read, too. You don't run into Armadillos every day and it is nice to have a new character for kids to look to. Adam Relf’s illustrations are engaging and colorful. The characters are simply drawn (coloring-book style), and the background are what backgrounds should be for this audience — large swaths of color.
Pros: Both books are filled with life lessons for young kids. Wendy Wax has done a masterful job creating a character in whom kids will see themselves, and also offering parents books with life lessons in stories that don’t beat them over the head with the message. Arlo is a curious and adventurous … just like them; he gets afraid … just like them; and he makes some of the same bad decisions … just like them. What Arlo shows kids by his actions is that there are different ways to solve problems. Sometimes you have to do it yourself, sometimes it takes teamwork.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. These are books with lessons that you'll need to come back to from time to time, and they will make a great transition from a book you read to one the kids will use to read themselves.
Educational Themes: Each story has several layers, and parents can draw out the ones that they want. For example, in Arlo Makes a Friend, our little armadillo has moved into a new house and is feeling lonely because he doesn’t have friends. If the scene fits, you can build from it to talk about how the friendship with Jack comes about; or you can just talk about friendship. One of the undercurrent themes is bullying … you decide how much you want to extract from the book. Both books open the door for parents to talk about safety and the dangers of wandering away.
Notes: The author donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, animal stories, life lessons
Date(s) Reviewed: May 2010
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