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BOOK REVIEWS

The Legend of OinkADoodleMoo

“Exuberant, colorful and superlatively upbeat, this rhyme and rhythm treat is simply fun!”

ForeWord Review, Cheryl Hibbard, April 2013

 

Silly enough to charm an entire kindergarten class, The Legend of OinkADoodleMoo is a pure delight. Author Alan St. Jean claims he loves to make children laugh and he certainly proves that here. With enchanting illustrations sure to elicit smiles and more, this book is destined to become a schoolroom and at-home favorite. Billed as Volume 1 of the Barnyard Collection, OinkADoodleMoo will leave children, parents and teachers anxiously awaiting Volumes II and beyond. It is indeed that good.

 

Whether read quietly by a child or aloud by an adult, St. Jean’s book is simply fun. Every second line rhymes, and the rhythm is catchy and easy to master. While three farmyard friends manage to diffuse a bad situation and enthrall a Grizzly bear with their down-home, foot-tapping music, their antics, captured perfectly and with pure joy by Illustrator Libby Krock, are sure to generate both giggles and belly-laughs from even the youngest audience.

 

The expressive faces of the three barn mates: Oink, the banjo-playing pig; Moo, the piano-playing cow; and one solitary little chicken, who both plays the harmonica and dances in a single, tin-toed cowboy boot, exquisitely convey every emotion from fear to crazy, unadulterated bliss. What starts as a potentially dangerous situation ends up as a music-filled pizza party, with all manner of animals – and the farmer himself – joining in the fun. The book is, in short, exuberant, colorful and superlatively upbeat.

 

Included in the hardcover book is an audio CD of St. Jean himself reading the story. Cues to turn the page allow children to follow along with the text. St. Jean’s resonant voice is soothing, perfect for a quiet bedtime story, until…The story starts a second time, complete with singing and music! A veritable hoe-down version sure to result in toe-tapping, dancing and singing along. This second version is exactly what adults may envision during a first read; it delivers everything the printed version promises’ enthusiasm, noise, excitement and pure pleasure. Be warned not to play the disc to the end at bedtime, however, for the kids may never settle down!

 

The Legend of OinkADoodleMoo offers much of what is missing in too many books designed for younger children: a solid story with imagination but outrageously silly characters, an easy-to-follow plot line, a moral without a heavily hammered message, and simple, engaging fun. On the last page, the chicken proclaims:

 

“One day we’ll be a legend here…at OinkADoodleMoo.”

 

There is no reason to doubt his word. This is a book that the kids will love.

 

The Legend of OinkADoodleMoo

“Hilarious and foot-stomping…”

Midwest Book Review, May 2013

 

Accompanied by an audio CD of narrated story and song, “The Legend of OinkADoodleMoo” is a tall tale from Texas about the Barnyard Collection of three animals at OinkADoodleMoo: a cow, a pig and a crazy chicken. One day a Grizzly came to call and the animals, instead of panicking, struck up their band to entertain and soothe the wild beast. They outwitted and overcame fear by dancing and playing a piano, banjo and harmonica compelling the scary bear to dance and have fun. He immediately ran away and came back with his family and friends asking for more! The barnyard band was joined by Walter, the farmer, and his pet mouse ad they played the drums and rocked the house until the sun went down. The farmer even ordered pizza for all! This hilarious, foot-stomping verse, storybook and song are catchily realized with the quirky, comical illustrations and rhymes. Its message of the overpowering value of humor, music and song will be well received by children from ages 6 - 12.

 

 

Aidan of Oren

“A potential classic.”

Atheen Hills, October 2004

 

This was a very charming story. If the author actually finishes the series, it has the potential to become a classic, as young people who read it today introduce it to their own children years hence.

 

The publishers suggest Aidan or Oren for third and fourth grade readers, and from the level of the sentence structure and vocabulary I'd agree. I think that pre-literate and early literate children would also enjoy it as a "read-to-me" book as well, although they may have to have some of the vocabulary explained. Words are age appropriate and introduced repeatedly in different sentences so that meaning can be learned from context and practiced, but the work is not so repetitious that is boring or pedantic, something that might irritate an adult reader.

 

The world of the children is delightful, and each child is an individual as are the non-humans Charles and Damon. The world of adults is kept in the background and viewed as it probably is to most children, as full of "advisors" and "teachers" and social interactions of which children are not a part but to which they are important. While the action of the story is probably a little tame for an older child, the trials confronted by the central characters of Aidan and his friends McKenzie and Lilly, are those of real children who have reached the magic age of thirteen, since the story is a coming-of-age tale.

 

Thirteen is that pivotal point between childhood and adulthood that is full of discovery, especially self discovery, when every child learns who he or she is and what they are meant to become and to do. While most children are not confronted with dragons or talking birds, elves or trolls, they are confronted with changing roles and expectations that can be equally magic at one time and frightening at others.

 

In the story Aidan discovers his abilities and his "destiny" with the help of his capable peers. He learns, among other things, that the responsibility of leadership is the well-being of others, and that while one person, even the leader, cannot know and do everything, the group or community may.

 

Truly an enjoyable book; well written and well crafted.

 

Aidan of Oren

“Children, parents and teachers have found a treasure!”

Melanie J. Vanni, March 2005

 

Family members will enjoy time well spent reading Aidan of Oren with their children. The chapters flow seamlessly and the story is captivating throughout enhanced by delightful illustrations. The end undoubtedly takes one's breath away; but, this just ensures an even deeper breath in anticipation of the next book.

 

In this era of immediate gratification, we the readers are encouraged to formulate our own hypotheses as we use our imaginations transforming ourselves into this enchanting continuing story. For teachers, this is a wonderful guide for comprehension and introduces, in a fun way, techniques for recall throughout the whole story. Furthermore, Aidan of Oren offers multi-curriculum opportunities for hands-on learning involving maps, plays, social standings, problem solving, conflict resolution, prediction, grammar and magnificent vocabulary. Educational tools such as journal entries, group readings, discussion questions and following up opinions with 'facts' from the book are enhanced by the magic of the story itself and the colorful characters within.

 

Aidan or Oren is so welcomed in this day and age where life is too serious for the young. Kids still need to be kids and escape, even if just for a little while. Thank you, Mr. St. Jean for sharing this tale with us.

 

Aidan of Oren

“New Fantasy Series Captivates Young Readers.”

Lisa CatholicMom, March 2005

Fans of the Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia series have a new resource to share with the younger readers in their families. Ohio author Alan St. Jean recently released the first volume in his planned trilogy, Aidan of Oren: The Journey Begins (Moo Press, October 2004, hardcover, 207 pages). Aimed at readers ages nine through twelve, this first installation introduces young Aidan and his brave quest for peace. Themes of bravery, loyalty and friendship permeate the tale, which will captivate the attention of both young readers and families who enjoy story time aloud. Charming illustrations by Judith Friedman bring the characters to life and lend Celtic charm to the story line.

 

Aidan of Oren

“Not a Harry Potter retread.”

Kristin J. Johnson, October 2004

 

Aidan of Oren, his best friends, Lilly (means "wisdom and purity") and McKenzie (means "warrior"), and his pet falcon, Charles (a royal bird of the family of Wingdom), love the stories Aidan's gentle grandmother tells. But Aidan never dreams he will be living a legend far beyond any of his favorite legends.

 

A terrible war engulfs the land and the country of Lionsgate alone stands untouched, except for orphaned children like Lilly, McKenzie and Aidan, son of a powerful wizard and a mother created from the earth. Aidan, Lilly and McKenzie embark on a perilous quest, encouraged by the love of Aidan's grandmother. A terrific, magical adventure tale of friendship and courage.

 

Aidan of Oren

Jane L. Quinn, The Corner Shelf, Culpeper, VA

"This fantasy story introduces a young hero named Aidan who sets off on a quest with two friends, Lilly and McKenzie, and a falcon who can speak, but cannot fly. The story emphasizes traits of courage, compassion, concern, and commitment, and charming illustrations add to the appeal."

 

Aidan of Oren

Listmania!

“Great reads for grades 4-6 (and all ages!)”

 

Aidan of Oren

Booksense Children's Pick for Winter 2004-5

"The story emphasizes courage, compassion, concern, and commitment, charming illustrations add to the appeal."

 

Aidan of Oren

Nancy Eaton, Bestsellersworld

“Young adult readers will enjoy this magical story. The author has done an excellent job...”

 

 

Aidan of Oren

Molly Martin, AuthorsDen

"A fast-paced exhilarative read...reminiscent of Baum's long-time favorite Oz series."

 

 

Aidan of Oren

Christy Tillery French, Reviewer, The Midwest Book Review

"A mythical adventure that will engage any child's imagination...plenty of action and subtle suspense."

 

Aidan of Oren

Joanne Zerkel, The Star

"For those Harry Potter fans...a magical story...lovely pen and ink drawings by Friedman will spark any youngster's imagination."

 

Big Fella, Volume I of the Daydreams Collection

“A delightful read-aloud tale!”

Big Fella, Volume I of the Daydreams Collection

Five Stars - Midwest Book Review, May 2009

This children's picture book in the "The Daydreams Collection" series, illustrated with colorful, cartoon-style illustrations by Libby Carruth Krock, features an accompanying audio CD of its story, narrated by author Alan St. Jean. Big Fella features intrepid young Ralphie exploring the jungle of his imagination, and pursuing a gigantic lion. In the process he learns a valuable lesson: "Cooperation, harmony, / Are something to be earned. / Work real hard, listen well, / Don't leave it up to chance." A delightful read-aloud tale perfect for parents and children to share.

 

 

Spooky Mooky, Volume II of the Daydreams Collection

“Your children will love this book!”

 

Five Stars - V. S. Grenier, April 2009

 

Ralphie is afraid of the dark. It's time for bed and Mom wants to turn the bedroom light off. It's Ralphie's 8th birthday, and Mom feels that's old enough for the bedroom light to be off. She kisses Ralphie goodnight, and the light goes off. Ralphie tries to talk himself into not being afraid of the dark. Something taps at his window. Ralphie imagines a ten-foot tall monster. Then Ralphie hears something under his bed. He's sure there's a monster with tentacles and a beak under his bed. Then he hears a swooshing noise in his closet and he pulls the sheets up over his head.

 

Just when his terror soars with new sounds, somebody 's footsteps are heard coming up the stairs, the bedroom door is opened, the light comes on, and . . . you will just have to read this scary-but-great-fun book to see what happens next to Ralphie! I give this book a High Five because I can feel Ralphie's terror and I love how the book ends. Like "Big Fella", this book comes with a delightful CD narrated by the author and has a song written by the author called "Spooky Mooky Dance". Your children will love this book, especially if they have a vivid imagination when things go "bump" in the night!