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Encourage your child to read aloud to you an exciting passage in a book, an interesting tidbit in the newspaper, or a ... More
Summary: Grandma Nellie thinks it is time for this millipede family to get away from their home at the airport and take an adventure. So Grandma Nellie, Grandpa Willie, and Lilly are heading to Costa Rica. They pack their backpacks and hitch rides in a briefcase and on a bus to get to Poas Volcanic National Park. There is plenty of adventure in store there: a rainstorm, an injured rhinoceros beetle, and a spider who traps them in a web sack, next to lots of other colorful insects. Will visiting Ruth Less (the spider) be their final destination? This is an illustrated travel adventure with a millipede as your tour guide. It comes with a CD that narrates the story and also has music.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, short chapter, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 10; read yourself: 8 to 12
Interest Level: 5 to 8
Age of Child: Read with girl nearly 7 years old.
Young Reader Reaction: This has been a must read for several nights, and now that she found the CD, our daughter listens to it a dozen times a day. Even when we're not reading the whole book, she wants us to read Lilly's song on the page where she's playing piano. "This is my favorite page."
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a text-heavy picture book. There are some wonderful elements to the story: cooperation, friendship, adventure, and plenty of facts about Costa Rica. I like the mini-songs that allow Lilly to summarize an event in rhyme. The idea of millipedes is creative and fun, but the author is uneven in her ability to get the reader to suspend reality (Grandma makes pumpkin pie at the Miami International Airport). There are also add-ons that aren't necessary, but are repeated regularly: farting and Lilly's phrase "Actually, I despise X." They make the text longer and feed behaviors most parents are fighting against.
Pros: Kids will enjoy the sing-song element and Lilly's adventure. They'll also grab some tidbits about Costa Rica.
Cons: This is a story/series with great potential, but it needs an editor. Some events seem to come out of sequence. For example, Lilly is jumping on her bed about an adventure even before Grandma proposes it on the next page and then goes into detail about the destination five pages later. Others you don't get until the end. There are pictures of ants, but there is no context. it isn't until Lilly's last song at the end where you learn that she wanted to "talk to the ants."
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is an informative picture book. The CD goes a long way to getting kids involved in the story.
Educational Themes: The maps in the front set the stage for learning. The story weaves in plenty of nuggets about Costa Rica, and the illustrations complement the text with images of Morpho Butterflies, leaf-cutter ants, etc. You can take any of those things to expand on the learning. You can also talk about some of the themes, too: cooperation, fear, adventure, trust, manners.