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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
Summary: King John and Queen Alexandra watch over the magical kingdom of Laven-Cleve. They are good rulers. King John works side-by-side with villagers to build and repair their homes. Queen Alexandra help the residents, too. No one has any worries here, but something is missing: children. On one of her walks, Queen Alexandra found a beautiful flower. The flower would grant a wish, but only for her. Every time she tried to wish for children in the village, the flower turned her down. Will Laven-Cleve always be the kingdom without kids? This is an illustrated fairy tale for upper elementary students.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 6 to 12; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 6 to 10
Reading Level: 4.9
Age of Child: Read with 6-year-old child.
Young Reader Reaction: Our child asked lots of questions and let us finish reading, but she didn't like the book. She kept asking why the pictures were blurred. The presentation distracted her from the story.
Adult Reader Reaction: What first caught my eye in this story is the vocabulary. Vortex, prosperity and inhabitants are not words you routinely see in picture books. I liked that the story's theme was accessible to younger children, but readable by older kids. Ultimately, though, I'm not sure that worked. The story got bogged down and named characters emerge on the last page. The computer-generated graphics detract from the story's theme of a magical kingdom. Some were blurry and may have been enlarged too much.
Pros: Children will enjoy this fairy tale about a magical kingdom. Parents of adoptive families may enjoy this allegory about children, families, and wishes come true.
Cons: The graphics detract from the story, which is meant to be illustrated. The fairy tale will interest young readers/listeners, but is probably beyond most of the audience at this reading level (sixth grade).
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. There are other, stronger stories that offer valuable life lessons in fairy-tale themes.
Educational Themes: The story presents an interesting question about choices, selfishness, and selflessness. When Queen Alexandra could not make a wish for everyone, was she selfish to keep the wishing flower in her garden? Fairy tales are wonderful tools for sparking imagination. Give kids the opportunity to create their own "kingdom." What would it be like? What kind of rules would they have?
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, fairy tale