THE SMARTEST LITTLE ARTIST BOOK 1 - THE MANY FACES OF FRIENDSHIP, written and compiled by Tonya L. Lambert, is a wonderful idea for a children's book. This book features various types of children's stories, poems, artwork, and illustrations. It also contains photographs (both normal and doctored ones) as well as sketches that children can color. As part of the interactive learning aspect of these books, there are questions about the various stories and pictures that children can answer.
This book is the first in THE SMARTEST LITTLE ARTIST series. Ms. Lambert is hoping that through these books children will develop a love of poetry, literature, creative writing, photography and various forms of art. Her intent is that the books will help stimulate creativity while also teaching children -- the idea is that kids will learn while still having fun.
I have to admit that I'm a little confused about what age is the audience for this book. I initially sat down with my four year old son and read him the first story. He had a hard time paying attention and he wanted more pictures. He also wanted more colorful pictures. The pictures (and by that I mean photographs, illustrations, etc.) in this book all all black and white. While some of them are suitable for coloring, my son just wasn't interested in the majority of the book.
Then I went to amazon.com to see if there was more information about the intended age range for this book. I was absolutely shocked to see that it said 9 - 12 years old. I have a nine year old daughter who thought the book looked like a preschool book. (It is a 52 page paperback book with a picture of two cats on the front.) I do think that she would have enjoyed some of the poems in this book, but I thought the stories and questions were geared towards much younger children.
Having said all this, I do think there are some terrific ideas in this book. The stories all have important messages that teach children valuable lessons. I also like the concept that this book is interactive. Sometimes I read a story to my son and we don't have a chance to discuss it. I have absolutely no idea if he even understood the story. With this book, you do have the chance to discuss some important issues like feelings, creativity, sharing, friendship, etc. with your child. I can definitely see the value of a book like this for teachers and counselors alike.
I do believe that THE SMARTEST LITTLE ARTIST does have the ability to stimulate the creative and sensitive side of your child. There are some great stories, and I especially enjoyed a few of the poems. I think the author sums up the book best, "It is educational in two ways -- it stimulates their intellectual side as well as their artistic one."