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Roonie B. Moonie: Lost and Alone Review by Camilla Anderson

Illumination Arts Publishing Company, Inc.
Janan Cain
PO Box 1865
Bellevue, WA 98009

This is a hardback children's book that is both written and illustrated by the author, Janan Cain. Mrs. Cain's first book, The Way I Feel, reportedly received many awards and rave reviews, and it is reported to have sold over 1.5 million copies (I have not read it). Lost and Alone was written to help teach children how to protect themselves if they become lost or are in danger.

Little Roonie B. Moonie is a bumblebee who loves to explore. One fine day, he can't wait to get started exploring, and he hurries off as his mother calls out some important instructions about what to do if he gets lost or is in danger. Roonie soon gets lost when he chooses to fly into a hollow log full of scary strange bugs. Then he gets lured away by a strange bird, but he eventually finds someone he trusts to help him find his way home. The book summary says he must "follow his instincts and use his head in order to avoid danger and keep himself safe."

As for the story itself, I was not impressed. I read it through once and forced myself to get all the way to the end. If I had picked it up off a store shelf or a library shelf, it would have been put back quickly. I read it out loud to my children, who enjoyed it well enough (ages 9 and 3). The writing was just average in quality for a children's story.

As for the illustrations, it is apparent that Mrs. Cain is a very skilled artist. Her illustrations are colorful and detailed, and they show a lot of depth and dimension. However, her paintings for this book use very bright pastels and neon circus colors, creating a strange, alien-looking cartoon world--not my cup of tea. These pictures looked silly and garish to me.

This book was slightly helpful. Slightly. There is one page in the back of the book titled "A Note to Parents." On this page, Mrs. Cain writes a list of teaching tips for teaching children how to respond if they are ever lost or in danger. The tips on this page could actually be used to train children in a practical manner. On the other hand, the story was very unpractical and strange--bugs with beanie caps, cell phones, and binoculars, and one very freaky-looking bird. I think a book with the intent of teaching children a serious safety issue such as this should use real people, real drawings of real things, and real sample situations. This is serious business, and I feel it should be treated more seriously.

I could, if I liked the book enough, study this book for ideas for how to teach my children some important things, such as: If you ever need to ask for help and can't find a police officer, then look for a lady with small children. That is an interesting solution and could be discussed. I haven't taught my children these things much. This book reminded me that maybe I should. Then again, if you read this review, you are now reminded too, and you don't need this book.

The back of the book claims that the story is "engaging." It is not. It's a "pretty" book. It is large; it is hardbound with a shiny slipcover, colorful pictures, and glossy thick pages. That doesn't make the writing any better, unfortunately. And as a book critic, my decision is that this one is going on the "free" table at the next homeschool book sale.  

 Product review by: Camilla Anderson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2008