I received a book from Ambassador International called Barkley’s Great Escape by Wanda Wyont. The book is geared toward children aged 4-8 years old.
Barkley, a yellow lab, finds a way to sneak out of his lot. At first, he has fun exploring. But, the neighbor’s swimming pool entices him to take a dip. Unfortunately, his good time comes to an end when he cannot find the steps to get back out! Barkley’s situation opens up great discussion with children about water safety and following rules. The book is targeted for children ages 4-8 years old with follow-up teaching strategies.
Honestly, I disliked this book a lot. First, I don’t really get into first-person stories very well, so when the book is written with simple first person sentences like, “I needed to get cooled off,” or “‘I’m in the pool,’ I barked.” I simply cannot enjoy the book very well. My daughter didn’t understand that it was the dog who was narrating the story because, in her words, “dogs don’t talk or count 5 houses.” Perhaps she’s a bit literal on this one. Not only that but these very simple sentences were marked with big words that many kids have trouble with, like ambled, lunged, and miffed.
It was as if the author didn’t want to decide who to write the book for. Granted 4-8 is a very large range for ability in reading and comprehension but it was still just odd format of writing.
The story was fractured because every sentence was a new thought instead of an easily flowing story. To be honest, my 4 year old didn’t want me to finish the book, she got bored with it and hasn’t wanted to read it again. I think it’s fine to want to tell a story about what dogs might do when they escape from their yard, however the writing style on this one was a far cry from a coherent and interesting book with my kids.
One redeeming quality of this book though is that the illustrations are very good. We enjoyed looking at the pictures much more so than reading the words associated. Another thing that I did like when I saw it, though I didn’t actually go through any of them with the kids because they weren’t interested, is that she includes discussion questions to help with story comprehension. She also includes other ideas for crafts, or math & science concepts like classifying pictures of dog breeds or drawing a picture of Barkley, or discussing how to take care of a dog. I really like things like this at the end of children’s books as additional tools for both parents and kids.
Overall, I don’t recommend this book and it would need to be a great book (previewed) for me to want to read this author again as well.