Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Left, Right, Emma!

Left, Right, Emma!
written and illustrated by Stuart J. Murphy
2012 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Knowing your left from your right is pretty big accomplishment for a young child. When I worked in kindergarten, I would tell students to look at the back of their hands and the hand that made an "L" shape was their left hand. This seemed an effective method, but I could have used Left, Right, Emma! as an added resource. In the story, Emma loves to march around her house. She's usually followed by her dog Pickle (Note to future authors: If you want reviewers to like your book, include a dog named Pickle. It works for me.). Her preschool class is going to form a marching band for Grandparents Day, so naturally Emma would volunteer to be the leader, but she doesn't raise her hand. Emma is unsure since she is not confident in her knowledge of left and right. Fortunately, her teacher, Miss Cathy, is a knowing soul and she asks Emma to join her in leading two lines. With Emma on her right, Miss Cathy has the class march around the playground. Emma is still not completely sure, so her teacher ties a red string around Emma's wrist and this visual makes all the difference. Emma leads the band and Grandparents Day is a great success.

I've never read a book about this particular cognitive skill, so right away I'm happy to have this resource for a preschool or kindergarten class. I can pull a small group and read this book to students who may be having problems distinguishing between their left and right. Stuart J. Murphy purposefully loads this book with visual cues which makes it great for young learners. I also like the kinesthetic possibilities presented by Left, Right, Emma!. I can easily imagine preschoolers marching around the playground after reading this book. It would be worth the time to check out Murphy's other books in his I See I Learn series.

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