Sunday, February 1, 2009

Book Review: The Umbrella by Jan Brett

Why I Love This Book:
A world traveler I am not. I just learned that my sister-in-law traveled to Spain by herself after college, just to explore. And my close friend from high school quit her job, packed her bags, and moved to Italy for a long stint. Turns out that most people I encounter these days have seen a bit of the world.

I did spend 4 months in Spain when I was in college and, truthfully, I found the experience to be a little overwhelming. Maybe with a few more years under my belt, and my husband as a travel companion, I would fare better now.

Until the day comes when I go on an adventure, with kids in tow, I am perfectly happy to journey to exotic places through great picture books like The Umbrella. I get to learn all about life in a Costa Rican rain forest without leaving the comfort of my favorite reading spot. Maybe one day I'll explore it firsthand when my kids are older. I'll put it on the bucket list.

Book Summary/Review:

Explore the beauty of a tropical rain forest with your children.

Take a walk with Carlos as he takes off to explore a rain forest in Costa Rica and the exotic animals that call it home. His journey is captured in pictures framed by vines, creating a sense of peering into the depths of a beautiful, lustrous place.

When Carlos first enters the forest, he immediately climbs to the top of a giant fig tree for a better view. Unfortunately for Carlos, he misses all of the action that starts after the drip, drip dripping rain fills the upturned umbrella he left on the ground.

A tiny tree frog is the first to jump in with a happy “hola”. From there, curious creatures emerge to join him in the small puddle inside the umbrella. As each new animal (including Toucan, Kinkajou, Tapir, Quetzal, Monkey, and Jaguar) lands atop the umbrella, it is sure to tip! But it is not until tiny hummingbird joins the crew that the fun is spoiled.

Meanwhile, Carlos descends from the tree, disappointed that he has not seen a single exotic creature of the forest. He returns home with his umbrella with holding out hope for better luck tomorrow.

The Umbrella is an engaging story that offers a rich learning experience.

Children are transported to a tropical new place. They learn about the various animals that occupy the forest, some of which they probably have never heard of before. Throughout the story, Spanish phrases are injected adding a fun dimension to the Costa Rican experience.

The use of foreshadowing is effective in pulling children into the story. Each page has a small picture of a leaf with the next animal to join the umbrella inside. Children enjoy guessing the name of this new animal and anticipate what will happen when it jumps on top!

The irony is not lost on young readers as they get to experience the action on the ground while Carlos misses it all. This fact is sure to elicit a giggle or two from children who are privy to this secret gathering.

Jan Brett’s rich illustrations and humorous story make The Umbrella a wonderful addition to any child’s bookshelf.

Send a child The Umbrella from The Lollipop Book Club

1 comment:

  1. LOVE your blog Karen! I am a former elem teacher whose fave subject (and spare time activity) is reading. I love Jan Brett, and your comprehensive summary/review on these books is fantastic! Happy Blogging.