________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 16 . . . . April 3, 2009

Jazlyn Jís Birthday Celebration Cover Jazlyn Jís Birthday Celebration.

RennŠ Bruce. Illustrated by Robin Oakes. Guelph, ON: Jazlyn J and Company Inc.(www.jazlynj.com), 2002.
24 pp., stapled, $6.95.
ISBN 978-1-894933-01-X.

Subject Headings:
Birthdays-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Tristin Burrows.

** /4

Jazlyn Jís Ideal Instrument Cover Jazlyn Jís Ideal Instrument.

RennŠ Bruce. Illustrated by Robin Oakes. Guelph, ON: Jazlyn J and Company Inc.(www.jazlynj.com), 2003.
32 pp., stapled, $6.95.
ISBN 978-1-894933-08-7.

Subject Heading:
Musical instruments-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Tristin Burrows.

** /4

Jazlyn Jís Birthday Celebration and Jazlyn Jís Ideal Instrument are picturebooks that feature seven-year-old Jazlyn J as she experiences the everyday excitement from picking an instrument for the school band or celebrating her birthday.

     At 7 a.m. on July 7th, Jazlyn J woke up and smiled. This is it, she thought. Today is my birthday! As you read on can you guess how old she is?

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     In Jazlyn Jís Birthday Celebration, Jazlyn excitedly prepares for her seventh birthday. Jazlyn eats seven pancakes for breakfast, invites seven friends from school and eagerly counts the seven hats, balloons and goodie bags that await her guests arrival. During this time, we are also introduced to Jazlynís family. Her dad reflects on how quickly the time since Jazlynís previous birthday has flown and her mom recalls how Jazlyn took seven hours to come out of her tummy. The birthday party is a success. The family, this time brother included, tuck Jazlyn into bed and they all share their favourite part of their day. The importance of a family togetherness is stressed throughout the book, especially highlighted here: ďJazlyn and her parents sat on her bed, ready to share their favourite parts of the day. It was something they did every night and it was something Jazlyn really looked forward too.Ē The book ends with a final question to the reader: ďHow will you celebrate your birthday.Ē Jazlyn Jís Birthday Celebration seems intent on creating dialogue between parents and child.

     In Jazlyn Jís Ideal Instrument, Jazlynís teacher begins a class band where all students are invited to choose their perfect instrument at the local music store. Full of excitement,
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Jazlyn and her mom rush to Mr. Mikeís music store where they meet Mr. Mike and many of the other students from class. Each child searches for an instrument that matches her/his personal style. Mr. Mike advises them on what kind of sound each instrument makes, and at last the saxophone, clarinet, drums, trombone, violin, flute, violin and guitar are all chosen by various classmates. After exploring many of the instruments, Jazlyn finds her ideal instrumentÖthe harmonica. Once they arrive home, Jazlyn and her family share their favourite parts of their days (something that the family really looked forward to), and Jazlyn and her mom share their excitement about their trip to Mr. Mikeís music store. At the end of the book, the question is posed to the reader, ďWhat would be your ideal instrument?Ē

     Both Jazlyn J books are simple and positively told stories about everyday life. Both books are conflict-free and project a very strong message of parental involvement and communication. These books would be a good springboard for conversation with parents, but, at times, they read more like a how-to manual on how to talk to your child, rather than a childrenís picture book. Jazlyn and her parents appear to never disagree or even problem solve for that matter, and the sweet attentiveness of the child-parent dialogue lacks believability at times. Overall, both stories lack any tension or drama but do paint a straightforward picture of everyday life in Jazlyn Jís world.

     The illustrations throughout the book are bright and bold. The over-caricaturing of the characters however, creates cartoon-like personas that lack sincerity.


Tristin Burrows is an elementary school teacher with a passion for literature. She lives in Winnipeg, MB, with her dog, Bruin.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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