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122
4.8 out of 5 stars
Ralph Tells a Story
Format: HardcoverChange
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2012
Very cute book, good humor, with colorful, inspired artwork to push any tyke towards creativity. For me a highlight was the juxtaposition of the front and back inner covers. The front shows a bunch of blank pages, indicating that Ralph had not yet found his creative streak, and the back is crowded full of all the stories Ralph learned that he had the capacity to write. Some examples are "When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me", and "When my Mom Bought me the Wrong Sized Underwear."
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
New from first-time author-illustrator Abby Hanlon. New, too, is Amazon Children's Publishing, itself borne out of the December 2011 acquisition of Marshall Cavendish Children's Books.

Sort of a juvenile version of How to Get Ideas, Ralph Tells a Story follows a Pigpen-esque Ralph in what I imagine to be second grade. His attempts to unlock a serious case of writer's block are spot-on, and should allow young readers to empathize immediately. Wonderfully emotive illustrations, especially Ralph's near-endless trove of grimaces.

My main and really only gripe is that while the text is legible enough (Palatino?), I would have preferred hand lettering, which may have connected more organically to the story. At the very least, a sans-serif font would have been better.

Positive, funny, practical. Bonus style points for the ruled paper covers and the Before & After endpapers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 22, 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In a field dominated with books about making friends in school, missing mom, and being bullied, Ralph Tells a Story is the first title I've seen about facing the horrors of academia. And these are very real. All across the nation wonderful teachers like Ralph's are encouraging their students to write wonderful stories.

And plenty of kids are coming up short. Kids like...my grandson Max, who regards the de rigeur three page story he must write each Sunday night as nothing short of The Great American Novel. Author Abby Hanlon deals with young Ralph's writer's block realistically and humorously, striking a nice balance between making fun of poor Ralph and entering into his feelings.

When he has his epiphany in the end and is able to tell a story, we are with him. We have been there ourselves. Ralph Tells a Story is wonderfully empathetic in tackling a basic problem kids face, succeeding in school. And the artwork is hilarious.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
I just read Ralph tells a story with my twin 5 year olds and they LOVE it. Not only are the drawings fantastic, the story is engaging and had my kids responding to every page. Both girls want to write books of their own now. They gave it a rating of double 10.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a writer and a retired teacher I found this story simply wonderful. What a clever way to motivate children to use their imagination and to see wonder in everything all around them. The illustrations and child like font would make any child feel connected to Ralph's situation. It went as far as to give Writing tips at the end of the book. It even inspired me to take a closer look at every detail around me within my home and outside. There certainly is a story to tell as little Ralph found out. Great Book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My 6 and (almost) 4yr old daughters love this book, we ALL really enjoy it. It's impossible not to smile while reading it. :)
The entire book has an upbeat and positive air to it. I really appreciate that given some books targeted to this age group feature obnoxious or undesirable behaviors/attitudes.
Best of all, there's a positive and inspiring message behind it. It'll encourage young ones to find stories in their everyday experiences.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2012
The previously (see update below) negative review was only regarding the electronic form of the book. In paper form I think this is a good story with a valuable message for children learning to write but the need to add electronic gimmicks had ruined this book. The text in the electronic book is made too small to read even though there is enough room to have had larger text, or even better, allow zoom to function in the book. Instead to read the text you had to tap on the text to enlarge it, which would have been an annoying interruption of the reading flow if it worked right, unfortunately it didn't. It amazes me how little vetting and editing is done with some of these electronic books. In this case sometimes one tap works and sometimes you have to tap a dozen times (not an exaggeration, try it) to get the text to enlarge to read it. This would be bad enough but a lot of the text is close enough to the edge of the book page that tapping just causes the page to turn rather than enlarging the text. Even if the text is not toward the edge of the page, taps often just causes the tablet controls to appear. My little one just got frustrated and lost interest in the story.

If you want a well executed electronic book for children try the iPad App Lil' Critter "Me and My Dad" it is the best of the many dozens of children's electronic picture books we have tried. Even after many months we are still discovering new "Easter Eggs" in that book.

UPDATE (I had previously given the electronic book 2 stars): I was contacted by Amazon and they let me know they had an update of the book and asked if it resolved the issue I had with the electronic form of the book. After trying the update, it did! I think I like the way they resolved it better than my suggestion to provide the ability to zoom in on the page the way you would reading a magazine on your K Fire. There is still the same difficulty enlarging individual text, that hasn't changed; BUT now when you start the book if you enlarge the first small portion of text the next portion of text is automatically enlarged when you do a page swipe. Each additional page swipe moves you in order to the next portion of small text and enlarges it until you get to the last portion of small text on a page and then the next page swipe gesture actually turns the page and enlarges the first portion of text on that next page; each page swipe gesture moving you through the portions of small text, in order, to the end of the book. Also, you can move back through the book the same way. The book now reads very smoothly. It's not intuitive though and without experimenting, someone who uses edge taps to move through the pages may not discover what the page swipe gesture does. I would suggest a note at the beginning of the electronic book to explain the use of the page swipe gesture. I was very impressed with Amazon's quick resolution of the problem with the electronic book; it took them less time than I have taken to update my review. Well done Amazon! I do wonder why this couldn't have been avoided by making each page into two pages so the graphics and text would be larger and you could read the text without the popup text feature. After all it works for the printed book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 8, 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ralph's teacher tells him stories are everywhere, but he just doesn't have them. Everyone in his class has stories. Daisy has written tons of stories about Ralph. Ralph's teacher is kind, encouraging and the kids in the class ask questions until Ralph finds his story.

Quality children's picture books should have text and visuals that work together to help to tell the story. This book has simple child-like drawings with details that everyone will recognize; a classroom full of student work, Daisy as she smugly explains to Ralph that she has a story, and Ralph's changing expressions as he tries to think about something, anything to write. Children will see themselves in these drawings. The text is a sentence or two on each page, but techniques like italics, color, larger print, and word balloons make the reader aware of changing events in the story.

Quality children's books should have interesting language and this book doesn't disappoint. Ralph "roamed" the hallways looking for other things to do when he couldn't find a story. Some onomatopoeia words from the book - the stapler going click, click, Ralph's heart going thump, thump, and I could go on with the great words the author uses that will delight children. A quality children's book should be one that a parent and the child would like to read again. The story of Ralph and how he finds a story to tell is fun, entertaining, and joyful.

The level of the text in this book falls somewhere around 3rd grade. That does not mean that younger or older students could not and would not enjoy this book. With some vocabulary assistance, or a student who knows some advanced vocabulary a younger student would not have any problems reading this book. This book has lots of visual support and textual support. This is not a beginning reader book. The sentences, vocabulary and extra text in the word balloons are too complex for a beginning reader who is spending mental energy decoding words. However, if your beginning reader wants the challenge, then read it with them because this is a great read aloud sharing book.

I would use this book with older students, even adults, as a read aloud to help them as they struggle with finding stories for writing. Older students love it when the teacher reads aloud and finding topics for writing is not limited to age, grade, or reading levels. If you can't tell by now, I fell in love with this book. This book is going on my - books required to teach writing list. I love the blank Ralph papers on the front end papers and the "Books by Ralph" on the back end papers. I love the red-haired teacher, yes a personal response. I love the blue-lines pages, similar to notebook paper we all know from school. I love the page with the picture of the wonderfully full classroom of student work, favorite characters from other books, pictures of the children in the class, desks in groups not rows, a rug for group discussions, paper, pencils, books, and the stapler at student levels for use, and the students in comfortable positions around the room as they write. Every writing teacher needs this book, especially at the current price.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2012
We're a family of readers, from my youngest on up, so to say that I think we've found a new family favorite book is saying a lot!
However, I honestly can't remember the last book I read with the kids that had us all cracking up laughing the way this story did. Not only that, but the way Ralph Tells a Story encourages imagination, thinking outside the box for a creative story, and adding a touch of your own personality and humor to tell a tale is more than encouraging.

We loved the illustrations, and my boys especially got a kick out of the part with the baby and the inch worm (no spoilers here, you'll just have to read the book and see). Another part of the book that was a favorite was in the end, where it showed the titles of the new stories that Ralph creates (When Milk Came Out of My Nose- by Ralph, anyone?) What little boy wouldn't love to read that.

The best part of all, was that this book has encouraged my first grader to create his own little books. He mostly illustrates them, because he's still learning to write well, but if you ask him, he can "read" any of his books to you.

Needless to say, I am fully impressed with this author, and will eagerly await another story by her!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2013
This is an awesome resource to reassure reluctant writers that the worries they may experience are not confined to them. I am looking forward to using it in my classroom.
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