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Review – Raspberry Sassafras

Best of Friends!
  • Book Style: Toddler appropriate story book
  • Reading Level: 2 (Reading With Help due to: mid-range length and some difficult vocabulary)
  • Reading Length: 8-10 minutes (FYI – we never account for toddler questions)
  • Illustration: Cute, simple, fun
  • Age Target: 2-8 Years of Age
  • Author: Allison Holland
  • Author’s Page: Allison Holland
  • Book Purchase Page: Lulu – $13.59 USD today, $15.99 USD regular price
  • Social Media Links: N/A

Raspberry Sassafras is a wonderful toddler-appropriate story book.  The story follows a cow named Raspberry Sassafras and a young girl named Jane who live together in the city in a high-rise apartment.  The two of them are the best of friends and they love their life together.  The author walks the reader (and your toddler) through the life these two great characters lead.
The story weaves through a number of activities that the two do, and then ends in what I would call a surprise ending (especially for toddlers). I won’t ruin the whole surprise for you, but let’s just say that we learn the ultimate secret about cows!

Now this book is 38 pages long, which as a parent of a toddler, you could be concerned about. What I can tell you is that my toddler breezed through this book without any trouble. The way the author wrote the book really made it easy for my little guy to follow along and to remain engaged. Allison Holland (our author) has told the story from the perspective of Raspberry, and I think that’s made the story extremely fun. For example, we don’t just learn about Raspberry having slept in a barn. Instead, Raspberry compares the old barn she used to sleep in to the “big bedroom” that Jane has. Writing in this way can be difficult, but I can say that it kept my toddler engaged as he learned about what a cow cares about.

Like I said, I don’t want to ruin the surprise ending entirely. However, I think it’s important for me to talk about it a little bit. Promise you won’t tell your toddler before you read the book? Great!

I think the best part of Raspberry Sassafras is the surprise ending. Essentially, the book ends with the reader learning that cows can fly. We also learn that the reason we never see them fly is because they’ve been taught to only do so in private. Why do they only do it in private? Well, because if clowns found out then cows would become circus cows and cows are afraid of clowns. Got that?

Good, because as you read that to your little toddler, you’re going to struggle. You’re going to end up laughing and you’re going to have to stop a few times. It’s hilarious where Allison brought this story to. It’s also something that drives your toddler to pay attention.

If you read the book, you’ll understand this illustration!

Which brings me to the author herself. Allison Holland is an interesting children’s author. In the past few days, I’ve managed to have a number of conversations with her and I’ve found a few things out about her. She’s told me that despite the picture below, she actually had a wonderful and happy childhood. She told me that she’s always wanted to be a writer, and that she loves being a children’s author. She’s excited with how her series (Raspberry Sassafras has two other books at this time) is turning out and she’s excited to have left corporate America to follow her dream of writing.

She also told me that she loves Carly Simon and that’s just something I can’t relate to (sorry)!

Wow, that’s an angry child!

I’ve already placed a few of the illustrations from the book on our review, and so I’m betting you have a pretty good idea about the style.  Nonetheless, I’m going to give you a little insight into how my little guy reacted to the illustrations and why they’re so important to this storybook.

See, this is a stylistic choice.  Sure, Allison claims to be a weak illustrator but there’s intention here in these illustrations.  They’re simple on purpose and as a result they’re very effective at contributing to the storytelling.  When you see Raspberry flying, you know she’s flying.  When Raspberry is flying, your toddler is looking at Raspberry flying (not a plethora of clouds).  When Raspberry tells us that she is afraid of clowns, we know what a clown looks like (scary, if you ask me).

In any case, the simplicity and the cuteness of the drawings brings toddlers right into the story and keeps them engaged.  It also lets toddlers connect what they’re hearing with what they’re seeing and that’s incredibly important for retention value.

All in all, Raspberry Sassafras is an excellent story book for toddlers.  The story itself is fun and told in a great way.  As the parent, you’re going to have no trouble reading this and I’d even say that some of the more (reading-wise) advanced toddlers are going to be able to read most of this book on their own.  The illustrations are nothing short of hilarious and drive that extra layer of retention.  With all that said, it’s pretty easy for us to recommend this book for your home collection.  Head on over to Lulu.com and purchase your copy of Raspberry Sassafras.  I’d suggest looking at all the books in the series, as they’re all sure to be fantastic!

Thanks for reading…with your toddlers,

Brian