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The Best Way to Play: A Little Bill Book for Beginning Readers, Level 3 (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – September 1, 1997
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Oprah Book Club® Selection, December 1997: Well-loved comedian Bill Cosby encourages kids to get creative in this simple story of how your own imagination can take you farther into outer space--and help you chase more aliens--than any TV show or video game ever could. In The Best Way to Play--one of Cosby's three Little Bill books for emerging readers--Little Bill tells his story from a friendly, first-person point of view, starting Saturday morning, when "All of the grown-ups were busy doing grown-up things."
He and the neighborhood kids are watching TV when they see an ad for a Space Explorers video game that instantly infuses desperate longing into their alien-catching little hearts. When Little Bill's friend Andrew gets a copy, everyone is thrilled. However, after quickly catching 100 aliens and getting perfect scores, the kids are bored with the game. They head for their trusty vacant lot where they chase an alien that looks like a cat and proceed to fly all the way to the moon! (Or at least they pretend to.) When Little Bill confesses to his mom that it was more fun to play outside than with the game, she says, "I'm glad. Now go to sleep. Space Explorers need their rest." While the engaging, upbeat story itself escapes heavy-handedness, the message is clear, clear, clear. Varnette P. Honeywood's flat, boldly colorful illustrations are full of life and expression, and early readers will welcome the spacious format, with large type and only a few short sentences on every page. (Ages 5 to 8) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3. Cosby turns his hand to writing, telling stories about situations that children often face. In The Best Way to Play, Little Bill, the narrator, and his friends get caught up in the excitement and marketing of their favorite TV cartoon, Space Explorers, and desperately want their parents to buy them the expensive video game. They become bored with it quickly, however, and realize that it's more fun to play Space Explorers outside. In The Meanest Thing to Say, Little Bill comes face to face with a bully. The Treasure Hunt takes him on a voyage of self-exploration. It seems to him that everyone in his family has a special quality. After a full day of searching, he discovers that his is "telling stories and making people laugh." These titles feature short chapters, making them appropriate for beginning readers?but they're also short enough to be read aloud. Honeywood's illustrations are bright and eye-catching, and show Little Bill and his friends and family as having distinctive personalities and characteristics. Each book comes with a letter to parents from a child psychiatrist about the subject matter in that book. While the writing is nothing extraordinary, Cosby has a good grasp of the issues and how the world looks through children's eyes. The primarily African-American characters also make these books welcome additions to easy-reader collections.?Dina Sherman, Brooklyn Children's Museum, NY
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The point of this Little Bill Book for Beginning Readers, which is illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood, is that Little Bill and his friends already had a great way of having fun without the new video game when they were waiting for "Space Explorers" to start and were imagining that they had their own space ship sailing through the galaxy. In his introductory letter to parents child psychiatry specialist Dr. Alvin Pouissant points out that using "television as a springboard for creative play" is a great way for children to develop their imaginations and to benefit from physical activity.
Bill Cosby's story also has a message about advertising hype that notes how the actual product is often disappointing. However, this particular point may well be the weak point in Cosby's argument. The "Space Explorers" video game is apparently easy enough that Little Bill and his friends can all get perfect scores. I am sure there are video games out there combine the twin sins of being expensive and not challenging, but my experience with such games has been that they can be the latter without being the former. It seems to me that many of the most popular video games are so challenging that you have to spend additional money to pick up a guidebook that teaches you how to get to the next level. Consequently, the potency of Cosby's argument in "The Best Way to Play" might hinge on the actual experience of beginning readers with video games in the real world.