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  • 2012 Comstock Read Aloud Book Award

    The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister written by Linda Ravin Lodding, illustrated by Suzanne Beaky, and published by Flashlight Press, 2011.

    The Busy Life of Ernestine BuckmeisterErnestine Buckmeister's well-meaning parents zip out the door every day on their way to work, calling adages to their daughter like "Live life to the fullest!" and "Make every moment count!" Unfortunately, such mantras have manifested themselves in a busy extra-curricular schedule for young Ernestine. On Mondays, she has sculpting with Clay Lumpkin. On Tuesdays, Ernestine does water ballet with Miss Goldfisher. Wednesdays consist of knitting with Mrs. Pearl Stitchem, while Thursdays mean tuba lessons with Mr. Oompah. Fridays Ernestine yodels with Little Old Lady Hoo, Saturdays she does karate with Grand Master HiYa, and on Sundays, Ernestine Buckmeister practices yoga with Guru Prakash Pretzel. Between her schedule and her nanny to keep her on task, Ernestine has no time for play! Finally, Ernestine takes her schedule into her own hands.

    The use of vibrant colors adds a whimsical feel to Beaky's acrylic illustrations. Double page spreads are effectively used to show the stress in Ernestine's life as well as the joy of play. Equally effective are the paneled paintings, which depict Ernestine at each of her activities with plenty of details and added humor. Beaky's facial expressions heighten the drama.

    Children in grades one through six laughed at the names of the teachers and their personalities. They also appreciated the illustrations that were "filled with humor." Students related to Ernestine's busy life; one child even reported feeling like she was in the book. Readers appreciated the lessons to be learned from this story, both for children, who need to remember to play and be kids, and parents, who need reminders to allow their children to just have fun.

    Linda Ravin Lodding, originally from New York, lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with her family. Suzanne Beaky lives in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, with her husband and her two cats who make an appearance in this book. BRITTANY LAZUR