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Christian Childrens Book Reviewer Weighs in on Shifty Characters
Wednesday, July 6, 2011 by Clay Jars Publishing

Author Shirley Francis-Salley, along with illustrator Willow Raven, have created a different kind of book called Shifty Characters. Together, they illustrate in both words and pictures, how “characters” can “shift” to create different words. Part of the text reads:
Shifty Characters love to move.
They won’t stand still for long.
They are always changing and rearranging,
until the word that was there is gone.

For example, the “characters” in the word “barn” can “shift” to create the word “bran”. Even though both words use the same letters, the two words have entirely different meanings.

The author gives several examples of “characters shifting” to make new words. Then she draws a connection between the “shifty characters” and people by saying this:

And that’s the way God works with us,
for we are characters, too.
We need to be changed and rearranged
to make our lives brand new.

She gives some examples of people being changed: People who like to fight can be changed to people who are caring and sharing. Rude and mean people can be changed to being kind.

The illustrations make the book work, especially in the first part of it, as the alphabetic “characters” have faces so they look a bit like people (who are also “characters”).

What I Like: The author makes a good correlation between alphabet characters and human ones and how God can change the human ones. The illustrator has done a great job of personifying the characters to make that point.

What I Dislike: However, as you may have noticed, the text is written in rhyme. And, like many of you already know, I’m not a big fan of rhyming text as it’s very difficult to do and do well. Unfortunately, the rhyme scheme and rhythm of the text is off in several places, making the text jarring to read.

Overall Rating: I still give it a very good rating because the idea is a very good one.

Age Appeal: No age group is given but I would say 6-12 would be about right.

Publisher Info: Clay Jars Publishing, 2010; ISBN: 9780984336906 ; Paperback, $16.99.

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