Roar Like a Dandelion

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Roar Like a Dandelion Book Poster Image
Whimsical wordplay, wacky pictures in delightful ABC book.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Roar Like a Dandelion uses the alphabet as a structure, but letter-learning isn't really the point. The power of imagination is a lesson here as well.

Positive Messages

Laugh -- at funny books, at silly pictures, at yourself. Be joyful. Be patient. Be present. Find your voice. Take in the beauty all around you. Greet each day with excitement.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The animals, bugs, and creatures in this book come off as imaginative, silly, fun, curious, at peace, etc.  

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Roar Like a Dandelion, is a never-before-published story by the late Ruth Krauss, a giant in the world of American children's literature, with pictures by award-winning illustrator Sergio Ruzzier. Krauss uses the letters of the alphabet as a jumping-off point for whimsical command-poems, like the title. While this is an ABC book, letter-learning isn't really the point; wordplay and the comical illustrations are. Words and pictures capture the whimsy, joy, silliness, and adventurous spirit of childhood. Implied positive messages include: Laugh -- at funny books, at silly pictures, at yourself. Be joyful, be patient, be present. Take in the beauty all around you. Greet each day with excitement. Ruzzier's illustrations include animals, bugs, and creatures that model creativity, whimsy, humor, curiosity, enthusiasm, mindfulness, and determination. Appropriate for all ages.

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What's the story?

ROAR LIKE A DANDELION is a collection of short commands, each represented by a letter in the alphabet. Young readers are instructed, for example, to "Act like a sprinkler in summer," for A or to "Look under the bed for poetry," for L. These often poetic commands are paired with quirky, muted-color illustrations that bring the commands to life, often to hilarious effect. The command for E is "Eat all the locks off the doors." Pictured is a happy pig, door across its lap, wrench and screwdriver in hands like utensils, ready to dig in. For F, "Fall like rain," a sky full of tumbling elephants threatens an umbrella-toting cat. Calling back to F, J, "Jump like a raindrop," shows jumping elephants bound toward the cat, who is running off the page. The pages just inside the front and back cover are illustrated with a spray of zany insects roaring (like dandelions, of course). Turn to the back outside cover for a sweetly defiant twist to all the roaring that completes the experience of this very readable book.

Is it any good?

A true delight, this charming, witty ABC book will enchant readers young and old alike. While the alphabet lends itself to the story as a structure, this book isn't about learning letters. It's about evoking pleasure and joy while reading with young children. And that it does. The often silly and always engaging commands are complimented perfectly by Ruzzier's ink-and-watercolor illustrations, which pay homage to Maurice Sendak's iconic style. The pictures ably rise to the challenge of Krauss' commands, which range from clear and simple, like "Nod YES," to the poetic: "Open your eyes, see the sea/ Shut them fast, lock it in." For this latter command, Ruzzier packs the page with meditative, closed-eyed fish and sea creatures peacefully being present to a moment of beauty. There's no shortage of childlike exuberance and humor, either. Kids will love echoing the yellow-bellied red frog, arms open to the day, and its lily-pond home as it commands, "Yell, 'Good morning, big fat world!'" This attention to and respect for the energy, imagination, and silliness of children will make this an instant favorite for young readers and the adults in their lives.

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the words and pictures work together in Roar Like a Dandelion. How do the pictures show what the words say?

  • How do these little poems make you feel? Do they make you think of things you like to do? Like what?

  •  

  • Which pages do you like the best? Why?

Book details

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