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When looking something to add to our school day, Me: A Compendium: A Fill-in Journal For Kids caught my attention. It looked fun, the picture on the cover intrigued me, and the idea seemed silly enough to hold the attention of my kids.
George has several variations of books such as this one, he tends towards the artistic thinking. Jack, however, does not have any such books. He is usually a black and white thinker, taking to artistic things only if it suits his fancy. I was not sure how he would react to this book, though was hoping for something unexpected that he could do during the day when he was bored. It would also act as a journal of his life at this point in time.
Me: A Compendium was picked with Jack in mind.
When the book came, I called him into the living room, handing him the book without saying anything. The look in his eye was one of excitement, “Is this for me?!” Seems it was going to be a hit with my practical child. (George was a bit jealous, till I reminded him that he already had two books like this. He still wanted to ‘help’ fill in some of the pages.)
As with any new book, I encouraged Jack to get to know the book before doing anything with it. Starting at the most obvious place, the cover, he asked why it was blank. “That is for you to fill in. You write your name in the blank rectangle, either only your first or any combination of your names you choose. This is your book.”
Turning it over to the back cover, the questions continue. The child is asked for favorites, descriptions of various body parts, and other information about likes/dislikes.
The biggest surprise, though, was the inside of the cover. “Super Secret Stuff” was a hit with this 7 year old. He did not even want me to tell George or Dad about it. “Mom, it is secret! That is what secret means; others do not know about it.” We had not even cracked the cover yet and he was already smitten with the book and the notion of filling it in as he saw fit.
Several pages were filled in the first day. One of them surprised me, “This is what I’ll be doing when I grow up…” Up till this point, he has always wanted to be a construction worker, or a constructions worker who works part time as a policeman. This was the first time he said he wanted to, solely, be a policeman, “to help keep people safe”. Being safe is a common thing he worries about, so this was not so surprising.
“As long as you do not want to be the person the police are chasing, I think it is a great idea”, a comment of mine that resulted in the oh so cute, “Mooooommmm” with the accompanying eye roll.
The second picture took a bit of interpretation on his part before I understood what was going on – playing Frisbee with Dad. Again, not a surprise, as this was drawn at a time where my husband was busy and not able to play with them as much as he, and they, would have liked.
Knowing Jack is not a huge drawer, I was very surprised and pleased to see how quickly he wanted to pick up drawing utensil and get to work filling in the paper pages. If this is what it takes for my fine-motor activity adverse kid to draw, I will buy these books all day long.
I have no doubt Me: A Compendium will last us quite a while. The cover is hard back and the pages are a heavy paper. The drawing and fill-in-the-blank prompts are diverse, helping keep it interesting through the whole book.
Since drawing in it the first time, Jack has asked several times where this book was, as he wanted to work on it more. This fact alone makes it a five-star book in my opinion, especially as it is not a particular cartoon construction worker and his builders, nor an alien race that can morph into various vehicle forms to fight other bad mechanical alien here on Earth. This is a book that makes him stop or slow down, think, and transfer those thoughts to something outside of himself. There are no right or wrong answers, and no grades. So, if your police car looks more like a lump of coal, that is okay. 😉
I thought I would give Jack a chance to share his thoughts, in his own words. Here is what I got:
Me: Jack, what did you think of this book?
Jack: (glancing over, sees the book on the screen, and gives a sly, shy smile, goes back to building his Lego creation.)
Me: Well, what did you think?
Jack: I don’t know. I haven’t finished it yet. I can’t tell you what I think of it till I finish it.
Me: Well, up till now, what have been your thoughts?
Jack: (silence, but smiling.)
And there you have it. He liked it but was unwilling to put it into words, the normally accepted form of communication for creatures of our species, yet a form that Jack often does not like to use. Hey, at least he did not spell it out in the air, as he is inclined to do at times. That would have been harder to transcribe.
As I was writing this review, I had another thought, “This would be great for a kid in Foster Care.”
Why? It would help create a scrap book of sorts, a place to write things down and store memories at a time where other forms may not be available. At times there are gaps in a child’s photographic history or “This is Me in Grade ___” papers from school are lost. Giving them a sturdy place to record various facts from their life at this moment, a way to possibly even share them with the adults in their lives, is a great way to encourage emotional connects, a connection with their personal story, and a record of this time in their life.
Me: A Compendium does not require batteries, is gender neutral, and easy to transport. As the holiday season approaches, if you are considering being a part of a gift-giving effort, even if not for Foster Care specifically, this would be a great gift option to keep in mind.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.