Book Review: As Special As Can Be

As Special As Can Be, by PM Woode

My review: ★★★★

This book is a journey as Bigblue Penguin and Bittieblue Penguin walk through the world. As they encounter different animals, Bittieblue observes the properties or abilities of each animal that make them unique, and asks (a bit jealously) whether she’d be better if she had or could do the same things. Bigblue reassures her that she’s perfect just the way she is.

I read this book with my 5-year-old today. I was struck with the vocabulary in the book; there are a number of large words that my 5-year-old asked me to explain to him. I actually like that – there’s no need to dumb-down language for kids. “Admirable,” “no doubt,” “permeating,” “deliberately,” “honorable, “flaunting her plumage” – all concepts he can understand once they’re explained. Meanwhile, he enjoyed the fact that he could recognize the pattern and know what Bittieblue was thinking (more jealousy, of course) by the time we reached the last animal in the book. (My 11-year-old enjoyed yelling from the next room that a peacock would be a boy, not a girl. 🤣) This book gives you an opportunity to remind your child how special they are to you, and to talk about what makes them special.

If I were to change one thing to amp up the quality of this book, it’d be the finishing touches on the artwork. The penguin drawings are pretty cute, but they’re a slightly different style from the other animals and the background (e.g. outlines vs. no outlines). Some of the pictures look a little stretched. Some pages have elements of different resolutions together on the same page. I’m also not into the very dark halos around the words. Another minor comment, there were a couple of wording choices I didn’t understand. A couple of places seem to be worded as if to rhyme, but they don’t really rhyme (this isn’t a rhyming book), so they just seemed odd. All of that said, that detracted from MY experience of the book, not my 5-year-old’s. The book, and its message, are for him. And he enjoyed it. This is a good book for any young child.

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