Get ready to laugh and learn important life lessons as you meet this, er, squirrelly family of delightful eccentrics from the imagination of author/illustrator A.J. Cosmo in his newest picture book, Every Family is a Little Nuts.
About the Book
Title: Every Family is a Little Nuts Author/Illustrator: A.J. Cosmo | Publication Date: April 2016 | Publisher: Thought Bubble Publishing | Pages: 40 | Recommended Ages: 4-8
Nuts takes place at Grandma Praline's house during an afternoon when young Wally's extended family gathers for a special dinner and gift exchange. While loving, his relative's quirky ways make sensible Wally feel excluded and unwanted.
What Kids Will Like
Characters soar in this picture book through narrative and artistry. The author cleverly bestows his squirrels with human traits. Each is named after a type of nut and exhibit charming idiosyncrasies found in many families.
For instance, teenage cousin Cashew is always on her mobile phone and pays little heed to Wally beyond occasional eye rolls. Little sister Pistachio is obsessed with counting birds. Grandma Praline is warm, caring, and forgetful, repeating the same story at every opportunity about finding a coconut. Wally is the only one who worries about every day things like getting dinner on the table on time and keeping track of presents.
Cosmo's bright, cheerful illustrations bring his zany family to life. He paints a unifying look with their bulging eyes and buckteeth, but then adds unique features and shading that pull personalities to the forefront. Plus, the art pulls children into the story with its details of every day life, squirrel-style. Think sitting down to a linen-covered dinner table to a plateful of corn kernels and squash. I cracked up seeing the meat thermometer inserted into a huge acorn – a gourmet squirrelly main course -- to test for doneness after roasting.
What family members and educators will like
This charming tale of an eccentric family has deeper undertones of acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness you will want to explore with children.
For instance, Wally unknowingly triggers an outburst as he tries to focus cousin Chestnut’s attention on their gift exchange. Wally does not intend to cause the resulting screams and panic attack after snapping his fingers by Chestnut's ear and startling his cousin. He feels instant remorse as his uncle rushes to calm Chestnut.
This is a perfect platform for discussing that families embrace handicapable members AND those who live with special needs children.
And then there’s that endearing moment between Wally and Grandmother Praline. Upset because everyone eats his favorite foods before he gets a taste and is later forgotten in the family gift exchange, Wally stomps off. Grandma Praline seeks to comfort him through a spot-on series of questions that dive into his feelings:
“... What do you feel inside right now?
Here's a sweet moment for children to observe; however, it's also a powerful opportunity for you to help them understand that disappointment and sadness is part of family life.
In terms of layout, each page of Nuts is beautifully illustrated with corresponding text blocks underneath. I would have preferred a bit more white space to delineate paragraphs because so much compressed text could overwhelm young readers.
Author, illustrator A.J. Cosmo pens a charming tale for ages 4-8 that packs a gentle punch. Its illustrations and witty dialogue will have children smiling as they learn to understand and live with people who are different.
I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Meet the Author, Illustrator
A. J. Cosmo
AJ teaches imagination and heart to children. His books and illustrations are crafted to educate, solve problems, and entertain in unique and interesting ways. Whether it’s overcoming first day of school jitters, getting past a fear of monsters, or dealing with bullies, his books tech important life lessons in a fun, creative way.
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