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Artsy Animals: Being Kind to Each Other Review by Kendra Fletcher

By Sharon Jeffus
Visual Manna
PO Box 553
Salem, MO 65560

Sharon Jeffus continues her Artsy Animals series by introducing the child to a very helpful topic, Being Kind to Each Other. I don't know about your home, but in ours, this is something we can be continually working on.

I really wanted to love this book because my children and I have so enjoyed other Visual Manna products in the past. However, I found several hurdles I just couldn't bring myself to jump over, and when I handed it to my children (ages 15 down to 8), they too were disappointed in the content.

From the introduction, I already had a difficult time following Mrs. Jeffus's intention in publishing the book. She seemed to jump aimlessly between the need for teaching children to value all kinds of different people, to teaching children to be polite, to teaching them phonetic content, to having children first read a story in a book. Clearly her intent was to cover several different topics, but I believe that the disjointed way these ideas were drawn together makes for a confusing and ultimately anemic story.

While the content is well-conceived, the poetry is not. It is clumsy, changing meter and form midway, making it difficult to read aloud and confusing for the young reader to grasp:

"So Mr. Dragonfly when you feel so small, Count how many ways 'small' can make you feel glad. It's nice to be different, soon you will see, Soon you'll be so happy, so happy like me." "Oh yes, I see," said he.

The drawings are similarly clumsy and unappealing. This was the biggest surprise to me as Visual Manna has such a lovely reputation for quality art curriculum.

The book's main purpose of helping young children learn to be kind to one another is accomplished, particularly if the parent takes the time to teach through the book with the child. Mrs. Jeffus uses Scripture throughout and ends each section with comprehension questions to further reinforce what is being communicated. This is definitely a plus.

Product review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2008