River Rose and the Magical Lullaby

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
River Rose and the Magical Lullaby Book Poster Image
Singer's dreamy zoo-trip tale an OK bedtime book.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Introduction to zoo animals: kangaroo, lion, tiger, bear, elephant, penguin, zebra, giraffe, turtle, otter, hippo, polar bear. Song lyrics written into story.

Positive Messages

"The trick to fun is to let the day be done." "That was a great adventure -- but home is my favorite place."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adventurous girl has fun with animals at zoo. When it's time to go to sleep, she decides to go to sleep.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that River Rose and the Magical Lullaby is a picture book by Kelly Clarkson, Grammy Award winner and the first American Idol winner. The book tells a story in rhyme about a girl going on a nighttime visit to the zoo, and singer Clarkson includes the lyrics to a short original lullaby you can play via a link and sing along to. There's a parade of animals to name, appealingly illustrated by Laura Hughes.

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What's the story?

In RIVER ROSE AND THE MAGICAL LULLABY, a bright-eyed blond girl named River Rose is excited because the next day she and her dog are going to the zoo. She can't sleep, so her mom sings her a lullaby. But then a squeaky sound wakes her up (or is it a dream?), and she spies magical balloons out her window. The balloons carry her and her dog to the zoo, where they cavort with a kangaroo, tiger, bear, lion, elephant, giraffe, zebra, and other zoo animals. By the time she gets to the polar bears, they're going to sleep and say, "The trick to fun is to let the day be done. That's the secret we keep." So River Rose travels home to her own bed: "That was a great adventure -- but home is my favorite place." The lullaby's lyrics are included, and author-singer Kelly Clarkson's recording is available online.

Is it any good?

There's not much fresh in this rhyming picture book about a magical trip to the zoo. The art by Laura Hughes is cheerful and fun, colorfully conveying the romp with the animals, but the rhyme in River Rose and the Magical Lullaby is sometimes inconsistent, and some story elements are noticeably borrowed from kids' classics. For instance, when River Rose grabs onto some magical (red) balloons outside her window that carry her away, it recalls The Red Ballloon, and at the end she has a "there's no place like home" moment like Dorothy's in The Wizard of Oz. Still, author Kelly Clarkson's celebrity status and the bedtime hook add to its appeal.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all the animals pictured in River Rose and the Magical Lullaby. How many can you find? Can you name them all?

  • When River Rose can't fall asleep, her mom sings her a lullaby. Do you have a lullaby or other song you like at night? When you're too excited to sleep, what helps you wind down?

  • What do you think about the magical balloons outside her window? Do you think River Rose really went to the zoo, or was she dreaming?

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