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Sprout Street Neighbors: Five Stories by…
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Sprout Street Neighbors: Five Stories

by Anna Alter

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I'm usually a little leary of these slice of life beginning chapter books, but this one was oddly comforting and very sweet. I have a lot of parents right now looking for read-alouds for preschool-aged children and this fills that need very well.

Five short chapters introduce five friends and their daily lives on Sprout Street. In the first chapter, The Acorn Problem, Henry the mouse tries to think of a tactful way to tell his upstairs neighbor, Emma the squirrel, that her thunking acorns are disturbing his Saturday morning nap. The next chapter, The Best Birthday, features Emma and her efforts to have the best birthday party ever. Fernando's Wish features Fernando's longing to do something in the annual parade and his fears of performing in public. With the help of his neighbors, especially Violet who plays the flute, he fulfills his longing to dance. Violet is featured in the next chapter, The Surprise, as she learns that sometimes you do need help from your neighbors. She finally accepts help from her neighbor Wilbur. The last chapter is about Wilbur and The Secret Garden, when all the neighbors come together to save Wilbur's beloved garden in an abandoned lot.

Alter's soft black and white illustrations are strongly reminiscent of Peter McCarty. Honestly, I had to look twice to make sure he wasn't the illustrator. Her artwork is a strong fit for the story though, simple and attractive, with each character having a clear personality and recognizable characteristics, both physical and personality-wise. I liked the little accents scattered throughout the book as well.

Verdict: This won't be a hugely popular title with most beginning readers; it's much more in the vein of the classic Frog and Toad easy reader, which isn't really that popular anymore, at least at my library, but that makes it a good choice as a read-aloud to younger children or for those kids who like more peaceful, everyday stories.

ISBN: 9780385755580; Published April 2015 by Alfred A. Knopf/Random House; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2015; Purchased for the library
  JeanLittleLibrary | May 30, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385755589, Hardcover)

In the tradition of classics such as The Wind in the Willows and Winnie-the-Pooh comes Anna Alter’s first chapter book.
 
Henry, Violet, Emma, Wilbur, and Fernando are neighbors in the same apartment building and they are also friends—though they have very different personalities and interests. Henry prefers peace and quiet, and poetry. Violet spends hours knitting and practicing her flute. Emma loves planning birthday parties. Wilbur would be happy to spend all day in his garden. And Fernando is just a little bit shy, but has a secret talent for the stage.
 
Sharing walls with your neighbor can sometimes bring the unexpected, but in the end, these five work together to overcome their differences.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:21 -0400)

Relates the adventures of the animal residents of an apartment building on Sprout Street.

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