Friday, November 14, 2008

The Full Belly Bowl - Book Review

Title: Full Belly Bowl
Author: Jim Aylesworth
Illustrator: Wendy Anderson Halperin

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Atheneum; 1st edition (October 1, 1999)
ISBN-10: 0689810334
ISBN-13: 978-0689810336

Too much of a good thing is usually just that. Too much.

An old man lived in a cozy tiny house with his cat Angelina. She was white with patches of black and the very old man thought that she was just about the sweetest cat in the world. When the old man becomes hungry he goes into the forest and searches for wild strawberries. Soon he hears the sound of a small voice calling for help. The old man sees a fox trying to carry a “wee small man” away.

The wee small man was injured and the old man gently lifted him up and took him home. For three days the old man shared generously with the small man. The wee small man became strong and one day he was gone. However, he left a letter on the old man’s doorstep beneath the rim of an overturned bowl that the letter described as a “Full Belly Bowl.” It was obvious the bowl was a gift but what in the world is a “Full Belly Bowl?” The letter explains the rules: "When not in use, store it upside down."

Later that evening the old man prepared some stew as usual and placed it in the bowl and began to eat. He ate and ate and ate, but the bowl was still as full as when he began. He even gave some to Angelina. The two had never been so full. They were so full that they fell asleep and the old man forgot to turn the Full Belly Bowl upside down.

The secret of the Full Belly Bowl was discovered. Any object or thing placed in the Full Belly Bowl multiplies until the bowl is turned over. After a few mishaps, the old man decides to multiply his coins at the prospect of untold wealth. However, greed gets in the way and the old man forgets the rules. Follow the old man and his cat in this light hearted folk tale that teaches the lesson: more is not always better.

Aylesworth keeps the story’s action going with some amusing capers. This is an excellent story time book and the wonderful colored-pencil drawings help to move the story along with little vignettes and borders with fruits, flowers and birds help to enhance the plot. Thoughtful attention to layout, visual detail, and a well-told tale combine to create a book that will compliment any library for a long time.

About the Author: Picture book author Jim Aylesworth tells his stories with generous doses of loud sounds, rhythms and rhymes. His experiences as a teacher have taught him that these are the elements children like in a story, especially when it is being read aloud. He has been honored in several years with an entry in Who's Who Among America's Teachers.

But it was his work with children that brought him the most reward. It was his experiences as a teacher that eventually led him to writing children's books. His students' enjoyment of his stories encouraged him to persist in pursuing his dream of being a children's book writer. It was in the classroom that he realized the power of books. He says, "I have seen a room full of children sit still and pay attention to a good book when it may be the first time they've been still at the same time all day."

About the illustrator Wendy Anderson Halperin: "My life enters into my books as if I were reading a mystery. I never know how, who, when, or why things and people enter my drawings. It is not calculated, however it is mysteriously woven."

Write it down,