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Summary: Vito (a pig) lives in a far off galaxy on a planet named Chip Swirlee. Here he maintains his cheerful little barber shop. But Vito has a secret life ... as a superhero helping those in need down on planet Earth. In this adventure, he swoops in to come to aid of Mr. and Mrs. Calabash, a kind elderly couple who own a family bakery loved by all the local residents. Land developers want to buy their land and construct a large mall, but the Calabashes refuse to let that happen. Vito helps their cause by bewitching their oven to bake breads that look like famous people. People from all over the country request their own celebrity “Breadheads,” earning the Calabashes enough money to save their bakery from its impending doom.
This illustrated action-adventure, written at a 5th grade level, features a pig hero.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Young Reader Reaction: Vito and the Magic Bread is an advanced picture book aimed towards upper elementary school students. Unlike other happy endings revolving around fantasy plots, the warm, happy feeling at the end of Vito is much more satisfying. The storyline is cute and simple, but contains many real-life situations. Where fantasy picture books present a setting of a land far, far away, and stop at that, Vito presents a scenario that could very well happen just down the street. There is no Vito the pig in real life, but like Vito, young readers can learn to love to help others and become a "superhero" as well. I enjoyed reading this story very much and would definitely suggest it to many other young readers.
Adult Reader Reaction: Although I like the idea of people helping their neighbors, I found the story a little to "pat" for me. The author draws in some excellent, real-life examples that kids probably hear about on their local news, but the "breadheads" undermined the value of the lesson he was offering.
Pros: Lots of action and humor will keep kids reading this book about a pig from a galaxy far, far away.
Cons: There seems to be a disconnect between the intended audience and the reading audience.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. The story has a lesson, but the characters don't have sufficient depth to draw kids back to reading about them again.
Educational Themes: There are lots of opportunities to draw out specific situations and characters. The story is also built in a way that you could role play and also do some "predicting" by stopping at various points.
Notes: The author donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.