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The Old Clock on the Wall book Review by Donna Campos

Lynda Bulla
KATY-DID Publishing, LLC
5845 Eldorado
San Joaquin, CA 93660

The Old Clock on the Wall is a glossy, full color hardcover book with 20 colorful glossy pages. Illustrated by Ernie Hergenroeder with vivid backgrounds and imaginative characters, it presents a story of encouragement for a struggling reader. The text itself is rhyming throughout with picture and text on every page on a white background. The main character is a little girl struggling to read; from a notation at the copyright portion of the book, we find she has dyslexia, but the story never references any particular difficulty beyond struggling to read and that letters get jumbled up. The character admits frustration and shares normal child feelings of guessing a storyline by illustration, rather than actually reading books. It is very honest. A friendly clock on the wall begins to encourage the girl with excitement about all of the amazing things available to read, and that books can be friendly, scary or fun. The book ends with the little girl finally able to read, after she perseveres with the encouragement of the clock on the wall. It is a good book for families to read together, whether or not they include struggling readers at the time. The message of perseverance is excellent for many skills and a broad range of age levels. The Old Clock on the Wall is well suited for all beginning readers and will work well throughout elementary school ages. It does reference her school teacher and includes no references to parents as teachers or as support in her reading struggle.

We found the use of shoe tying an excellent example of perseverance for older students struggling with reading, but some special needs readers may not have mastered tying shoes yet either. Other examples of perseverance include batting, running, swimming, and various musical talents and include vivid illustrations of these skills. The book includes very honest responses from the struggling reader as she mouths off to the clock encourager and shares her incredible frustration with being unable to read as she lists off the many other activities she has successfully mastered. We didn't like that the book seemed to imply that she finally mastered reading in one evening, as the illustrations have her clothed in the same outfit and in the same room for the entirety of her discussion with the Old Clock. We also found much of the punctuation less than accurate as every line is capitalized in the style of a poem and many commas are notably absent. We were also disappointed with the closing quote: "It's only the quitters that lose in the end. They never try, so they never win." For the sake of all special needs students, we admit that some will never truly master reading fluently and may find this book discouraging, or worse, confirmation that they have failed. I would use The Old Clock on the Wall to encourage non-readers who have not begun to try, as a motivator and encouragement tool from the beginning. The pictures are incredibly vivid and include consistency in room decorations, beautiful window views, and even shadows. Some of the character details seem a bit distorted in illustrations, but this seems to be simply due to an attempt at capturing expressions of frustration, which is very difficult to do. We did appreciate that although the book was written to encourage children struggling with dyslexia, because it does not openly state the same within the text, flexibility for its use remains. Families with any struggling reader may use this book as a tool for encouragement. I would also note that because this particular character lists off several other activities she has mastered, which include playing the piano, baseball, running, and swimming, some children may feel greater frustration if they struggle in multiple areas due to a broader range of developmental delay. Parents should be careful when choosing this particular book for children more sensitive to their personal delays if they are behind in multiple skill sets.

The Old Clock on the Wall offers a story of encouragement not usually found in books for children with reading delays. Created for those with dyslexia, it does provide a broader use for all children struggling to learn to read fluently. The Old Clock is an intriguing character as he encourages the young girl to keep trying, just as he did when learning to present time accurately. The young girl is incredibly honest and real, as she shares her frustration and displays anger easily throughout the story. Learning to read can be such an intimidating skill for many young students, but older students can feel even more frustrated as they master other activities while continuing to struggle with reading. For children with multiple delays, this book may not be the ideal tool for encouragement as it portrays a child successfully managing other life skills while struggling with reading alone. We will use this book as a story of encouragement and for discussion about anger and frustration with our younger children, but would not be able to use it successfully for our special needs child because he would become more frustrated and focused on the fact that he still struggles with shoe tying, playing the piano, and running and jumping without great effort. For families with reading children and struggling readers, "The Old Clock on the Wall" may be just the encouragement tool your family can use to motivate struggling readers to success.

Product Review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2008