Sunday, August 8, 2021

John J. Hammerlink and the Really Big Think

John J. Hammerlink and the Really Big Think
by Bette Slater Seres
Recommended Ages: 5-9

John J. is a rambunctious little kid who keeps getting into mild trouble, like when he sticks a fuzzy caterpillar up his nose or splashes in a mud puddle. His mom keeps telling him he needs to think, but he doesn't understand what that means. So John asks members of his family, and each of them gives him a small piece of the puzzle – opening his mind to the facts, asking himself questions and deciding which answer works best. He soon gets an opportunity to put his newfound thinking skills to the test when he notices something off about the home of the older lady next door. Suddenly, John J. is a hero because of his newfound thinking skills.

This is a nice, small kid-friendly introduction to the thinking process, based in a very simple way on Bloom's taxonomy of learning objectives (knowledge, analysis, evaluation). Though no particular illustrator is credited, the pictures add a certain charm. I especially got a kick out of the two-page spread of John J. splashing in the mud puddle. He's a lovable little kid, and the friendliness and gentle humor of the book may make it really useful in an elementary school classroom.

Full disclosure: I was given a copy of this book when I interviewed the author for a newspaper story. Bette Seres is a first-time author and retired educator from Iowa (with a summer home up by me in Minnesota – hence the interview) and she told me she's planning a sequel in which John J. uses his imagination. I hope it won't take her the 20 years she said it took to write this book!

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