Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cozy Classics: Les Misérables

As I sat at the reference desk the other day, a little girl wandered into the Youth Department. Looking around, with eyes wide, she headed straight toward our New Picture Books Display. From that tiny girl, came a shockingly loud "MOM! THIS IS SO COOL!" Which, of course, made my heart happy. Little people excited for books!

As an English major, I do enjoy the classics (well, most of them). I was so happy to discover this board book series: "My Cozy Classics." It takes a classic novel like Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Moby Dick or Oliver Twist, and puts it in a format that can grow with a child. Instead of drawings, the illustrations are needle-felted. Actually, I'd be much more likely to read Moby Dick again in this format. [Bonus: Here is a REALLY COOL video on how they do the needle-felting]

According to the  website

Cozy Classics uses a simple one word/one image format to help babies and toddlers build vocabulary and learn everyday concepts such as body parts, emotions, animals, relationships, actions, and opposites. However, Cozy Classics organizes everyday words in a more unique way: through story. By putting words in the context of a story, our books help children find further meaning through a growing sense of narrative.

I was lucky enough to review a copy of the Cozy Classics version of Les Misérables.  

The experience was a bit...roller-coastery for me.  I went into it without reading the back of the book, or knowing what Cozy Classics was about. I was excited to read it at first, then realized it was the one word/one image format.  I had expected something with a bit more narrative.  I was disappointed.


I had never seen needle felting before, and kept going back to look at the illustrations.  About the third or fourth time going through, I realized "Actually, what better way to start your child off with a classic!"  The pictures tell enough of the story that the single word does its job- enriching the child's vocabulary, and putting it in context.  Then, I thought about it some more, and realized that the child could grow with this book!  From learning the words, to telling, and understanding, the story!

A brief synopsis of the story is provided on the back, and a more detailed one is provided on the website (which also includes quotes from the novel).  Parents can explain to the child what is happening, and eventually the child will be able to relate words to scenes.

I did want to provide a second picture, better showing the illustration.  This is from the Cozy Classics website, and was one of my favorite parts of the book.  I actually laughed out loud.  The word for the page is "STROLL," and is the scene where Cosette and Valjean are strolling through the garden, as Marius looks on...and even in felt, Marius looks like a creeper.

Having read this title, I find myself looking forward to the rest of the series coming out (and I don't even have kids yet!).  Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice acquisition is going to a priority.  

Definitely recommended to those who enjoy needle crafts, classic literature, and early literacy. 

The "My Cozy Classics" series is published by Simply Read Books.

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