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A Review: The Baby Lit Classic Series (Children’s Feature)

A Review:

The  Baby Lit Classic Series

(Children’s Feature)

05.15.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Modes of fantasy in literature have always fascinated the imagination of its readers, especially its younger audience of children as found in the classic tale of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll published in 1865.

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Now, parents don’t have to wait that long to introduce classic literature to their young ones with the publication of the Alice in Wonderland: A Baby Lit Colours Primer by Jennifer Adams with illustrations by Alison Oliver.

little master carroll: Alice in Wonderland

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Category: Children’s/Baby

Author: Jennifer Adams

Illustrator: Alison Oliver

Format: 6  7/8″ x 6  7/8″ Board Book, 11 pages

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

ISBN: 978-1-4236-2477-6

Pub Date: March, 2012

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And almost every student in high school has been exposed to the romance of the literary classic, Romeo and Juliet by the creative genius of William Shakespeare. The fictional couple is iconic in their “star-crossed” love, recognized both by the tragedy of their romance and by the play’s poetic verse.

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And now, the simplicity and bright design of Romeo and Juliet: A Counting Primer by Adams, illustrated by Oliver, is in its central appeal to wee ones, a wonderful book board version that both parents and their tots can enjoy.

little master shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

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Category: Children’s/Baby

Author: Jennifer Adams

Illustrator: Alison Oliver

Format: 6  7/8″ x 6  7/8″ Board Book, 11 pages

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

ISBN: 978-1-4236-2205-5

Pub Date: August 2011

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The fate of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett has been one of the most captivating romantic archetypes of classic literature especially for those who love the backdrop of the English country. Now, babies can also enjoy the “romance” of counting in Little Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: A Baby Lit Counting Primer board book.

Little Miss Austen: Pride and Prejudice

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Category: Children’s/Baby

Author: Jennifer Adams

Illustrator: Alison Oliver

Format: 6  7/8″ x 6  7/8″ Board Book, 11 pages

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

ISBN: 978-1-4236-2202-4

Pub Date: August 2011

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And who can forget the heroism of Jane Eyre’s quest for freedom and the romantic mystery between her and her bitter employer Rochester amidst the secrets of Thornfield Hall?

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Babies can now “count” the different ways leading with “1 governess” to “10 books” in Little Miss Bronte’s Jane Eyre: A Baby Lit Counting Primer published by Gibbs Smith.

Little Miss Bronte: Jane Eyre

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Category: Children’s/Baby

Author: Jennifer Adams

Illustrator: Alison Oliver

Format: 6  7/8″ x 6  7/8″ Board Book, 11 pages

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

ISBN: 978-1-4236-2474-5

Pub Date: March 2012

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My Review:

This Baby Lit series is ingenious as it tugs at the sentimental “heart-strings” of literary parents who have enjoyed such timeless and famous classics as Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre. But, it’s also a wonderfully designed set of books authored and illustrated by the same people for each volume, Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver, consecutively, which makes for a streamlined look both in its board book formats and creative illustrations and book design. For children, each page opens up to a large font either in number, colour, and corresponding word of choice, all related to its original classical story. Tots may not know the name of the Chesire cat in Alice in Wonderland, but will be encouraged to recognize that it is certainly a bright orange colour! Our youngest readers may not know the ramifications of “forbidden love” yet, but they will be introduced to “2 hearts” and “8 love letters.” And though they may not have the pleasure of experiencing the complexities of the classic stories of Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice like they inevitably might in high school or college, they will be introduced to “4 towers” in Thornfield Hall and the “2 rich gentleman” found in Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. The modern and creative design of the illustrations are bright, fun, yet remain aesthetically modern and artistic, something that will spark and retain a child’s interest, yet entertain and please its adult readers, too. The Baby Lit series can be purchased and read as stand-alone books or collected as a whole for your baby’s first and growing library and makes a perfect literary and “trendy” gift. But if not for your baby, the collection is still a spectacular find and would be a wonderful addition to any literary lover’s personal library for its sheer connection to the classic originals. Better, yet, it’s a wonderful companion to its original classic counterparts where the adult can enjoy the adult version of the book alongside the literary child(ren) in his or her life. My two-year-old daughter continually pulls these beauties off the shelf and reads them on her own, counting her numbers, identifying colours, and re-creating her own dialogue to match the pictures. She especially loves the book Romeo and Juliet and also loves choosing her favourite of the “nine fancy ball gowns” found in Little Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice counting primer book.

M. admiring the “9 fancy ball gowns” in Little Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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She has even made her first own form of literary criticism of the work when she told me in her own words,

“Mama, this is a nice book!”

M. happy with the Baby Lit series published by Gibbs-Smith. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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That’s good enough for me! And quite encouraging to see that my daughter’s literary interest continues to grow as does our personal library. I highly suspect that this set of books will remain a nostalgic and highly valued series in both her personal library as well as mine. If you have a young one at home or know a tot you wish to enlighten with a thoughtful and “fashionable” gift, the books of the Baby Lit series are a great choice.

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Zara’s Rating

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A special thank you to the publisher Gibbs Smith for providing me with media copies in exchange for an honest review.

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Holy Mother! I’M a Mother!: Reflections on Motherhood Part 1 (Mother’s Day Series)

Holy Mother! I’M a Mother!

Reflections of Motherhood Part 1

(Mother’s Day Series)

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

As a young girl, I was fiercely independent. Unlike my younger sister who secretly misinterpreted “apron strings” as “Siamese twins.” She was on my mother’s hip for a large part of her early years. Unlike me, who was content and unafraid to experience the world on my own. It’s not that I didn’t need my mother—I just didn’t need my mother.

Independent little me. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.

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Later, my ambition, which was sparked not only by my very first “academic award” found in my compassion to “share my crayons” with another child sitting at my table in Junior Kindergarten when I was awarded with The Apple of the Day Award from Miss Sherry, my beloved teacher—was further embedded by my parents’ generous praise of my work and my intelligence.

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I was four.

And every picture that I painted or drew was hung up on the walls of our townhome laundry room, which was on the second floor.

Pictures of a crude, shaky hand: the ever-recognizable yellow-circled sun with straight lines for its rays of light; green scribbles of grass, over-exaggerated stems of tulips of varying colours and sizes (since I had no idea how to draw any other kind of flower); blue clouds, tiny m’s for flying birds, an apple tree with far too many apples and obvious stems; a box house with an attempted roof; and anatomically bare stick people who were taller than my boxed house.

Yes, these were the products of great praise. And so, I kept on drawing. I kept on painting. I kept on reading. And I kept on writing—I kept on.

As I grew, I became a scholarly and serious student, often, if not always at the top of my class. I even graduated as Valedictorian, winning a Brampton Rotary Award of Excellence that drove me to believe I could someday conquer the world (okay, not the world, but maybe a good two or three countries).

Needless to say, my drive for success propelled me into an accepted solitude with a focus only on a strong career and vocation, extravagant travel plans, a nomadic lifestyle, a few adventurous lovers, dependable and like-minded friends, along with a house full of cats (I later found out that I’m anaphylactic to cats and put myself at risk of death in ever being near them!)

(c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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Marriage or having children were not part of my long-term plans—or even part of a short-term one.

I had nothing against children. Or even men or marriage. I just had other plans. (And we all know how plans usually go…)

My husband and me on our wedding day. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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I’m not complaining. Some of the best things in life derive from spontaneity and surprise. And poof! I met someone who didn’t make me forget my plans or myself, but helped me acutely remember.

Two years into our marriage, “we made plans” to try for a baby.

The actual stick that changed my life. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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Unlike some women (and my previous academic success), my pregnancy and that surrounding childbearing was not in any way, “textbook.”

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I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix, a terribly insulting term, which alluded to the idea that my cervix was somehow wilful and unwilling to succeed in its primary function, which is to carry a child. And just as insulting to my very nature, which was not used to being called “incompetent” at anything I had set my mind to.

And so, I carried my child for as long as I could until my firstborn was born too early—the mere size of a pop can, born at six months gestation instead of the anticipated nine.

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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That’s how my personal experience of motherhood began. Not the wistful, flowing ebb of sentimentality usually associated with Hallmark cards, perfectly colour-coordinated baby showers, and gushes of congratulatory hugs, handshakes, and bravado cigars. No.

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I had panic and pain when I should have been ethereally glowing. I had Level- Three-priority hospital care with the subjugation of pity, awe, and scientific wonder and study. I had worry, anxiety, and fear—first of labouring, which I had never experienced before, and second, of the potential death of my unborn and then “born-too-early” child.

It was an intensive time of postpartum hormonal change with the heightened stress of death banging on my son’s isolette incubator door. He was 875 grams when he was born. He was fully intubated, depending on the life source of CPAP machines, strong antibiotics, a strict visitation code, a revolving shift of surrogate nurses, and the grace of God.

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I had missed my prenatal classes by two weeks! My son was born before I could attend my first session and so when the accompanying nurse told me to breathe, I didn’t know what the heck she was talking about, nor did I know what it was to enjoy a baby shower.

I had one—an impromptu gathering of my mother, a few of my aunts who had thrown a few gifts into some gift bags, and a buffet of food I didn’t feel like eating because all I could do was worry about whether or not my baby would live or die.

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Dramatic? Yes. True? Absolutely.

And rather than tell you in detail of the four years of frequent hospital visitations, medical appointments, tests, studies, and other forms of my son’s near-death experiences and medical scrutiny—I will say, that we had by no means, any plans to have another child due to the extensive care our son required and the fear of surrendering a second child to a similar fate.

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But, you know how plans go.

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And so, five years later, we put our faith into the possibility of having another baby…

Now, I have a seven-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter!

M & M, my two “kidsters!” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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What’s the moral of the story?

There isn’t one—but, it is my story. And that of my children. And in reflecting back, Mother’s Day isn’t a day to merely celebrate what it is to be a mother—but also to celebrate the children themselves who have made us so.

I know I will most likely be receiving a similar drawing to the one I drew as a child, on Sunday from my kids. The crude and shaky lines will most likely inscribe,

“Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! I love you!”

And yes, I will most likely post it our fridge door.

The yellow-circled sun will most likely be replaced with the steel mask of Iron Man and the straight lines will become its rays of light-beam weaponry. The green scribbles of grass will most likely be the bludgeoning green of Hulk, while the over-exaggerated stems of tulips will become the varying colours and sizes of enemy ships. The blue clouds will stand as Captain America’s shield and the tiny m’s of flying birds will most likely become boomerang discs.  The apple tree will stand firm as the tree from Black Panther’s forest. And the boxed house with an attempted roof will most likely become a testament to the Superhero Squad’s secret headquarters!

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And of course, the anatomically bare stick people—will now include two more!

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How do you celebrate your children as a mother?

If you’re not a mother, how do you celebrate the children who are in your life?

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