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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I am Josephine (and I am a living thing), written by Jan Thornhill and illustrated by Jacqui Lee. Owlkids Books, 2016. $18.95 ages 3 and up

"I am Josephine,
and I am a mammal.

I am a mammal, and
so is my mom, and so
is my dog, Cosmo, and
so is a groundhog.
And so is that cat
that's always following
me around. (Shoo,

Josephine is many things - mammal, animal, living thing, human - but, she is also her very own self. She makes that clear from her opening gymnastic vault into our presence. Using an easel and a variety of useful instruments including paint brushes, markers and crayons, she provides an illustrated example of just one of the things that make her unique.

She has spunk, and clear knowledge of how important she is to her parents and her brother; the feeling is mutual. As we wander through the book's pages with her, Jacqui Lee provides colorful and detailed backdrops for each new designation. Josephine's street is filled with the many houses and humans who are her neighbors. When the page is turned on this descriptive two-page spread, readers are asked to count the human beings found in spot pictures on the next one.

Mammal is next. Josephine quickly categorizes others like herself, and moves us on to ask if we can find more. All of the details shown and the appealing characters provide humor and interest for a young audience. Josephine is a friendly guide to the learning, and joyously leads readers from one page to the next, always encouraging participation in many new experiences.

The writing is clear and easily accessible for its intended audience. The artwork is colorful and filled with charming detail. The illustrations offer plenty of opportunity for discussion and understanding. The classification of living things is not often so clear for little ones trying to cement their place in the natural world.

The lists provided in back matter add to the learning, showing just what it takes to be part of each of the four classifications.

Josephine leaves readers with a question to ponder:

"What makes you different from other human beings?"

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