Early Readers – A Bath for a Princess

A princess paints a picture, and gets covered in paint. She needs to take a bath. But she needs a duck to be a friend in the bath, so that castle staff hurry to get her a duck.

This is an “I’m Going to Read!” Level 2 “Up to 100 Words” book. The cover suggests it would be appropriate for first graders, or children ages 6-7. The back cover includes a picture of a word bank that includes all of the words used in the story in alphabetical order. This would be useful for parents who want to get the gist of the sorts of words that are used in the book, though parents should remember that how words are used (in complex sentences, or in dialog or other complicated grammar, for example) can be another important factor.

While the word bank on the back cover is reasonably useful, the word bank that runs along the top of each page is far less so. My eyes were immediately drawn to the top of the page, where there is green text in a band of white. As an accomplished reader I immediately identified this as just a collection of words, and I went looking for actual sentences, which were located in black at the bottom of the page. A beginning reader might have wasted a few minutes trying to figure out why the words did not make sense. It took me a few pages to realize that the words in the white banner were the “new” words introduced on that page, which is why some pages have ten or more words in the banner, while other have only two or three. It is very distracting. The words are not even in alphabetical order, which would at least give them some sort of order or usefulness. What the purpose was in putting the words in this banner is completely beyond me.

Besides from the distracting word bank banner, the story itself was fairly shallow. The princess gets dirty, she demands a duck, a duck is provided, she declares herself clean. Early readers are not renowned for their depth of storylines, but this story has none of the spark that can hopefully leave the newly minted reader wanting more. The Mo Willems books have just as few words, and yet they are fun, clever, and highly appealing. This book tries to be helpful, and the overall package is not terrible. It simply isn’t wonderful, either.

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