Carole P. Roman is a multi-award-winning children’s author who has written over 45 books! She is most well-known for the fictional “Captain No Beard” series and the non-fiction series, “If You Were Me and Lived In….” We chose a sampling of three different titles from the Carole P. Roman books and collections to get a taste of her writing:
- One to Ten: Squirrel’s Bad Day (geared toward ages 4 to 8)
- The Crew Goes Coconuts! A Captain No Beard Story (ages 3 to 8)
- If You Were Me and Lived In…Colonial America (ages 8 to 15)
I was very excited for the opportunity to review these three titles (for reasons you’ll see below) but these were ultimately not a good fit for our family. Many of the other Crew members enjoy Mrs. Roman’s books, so please be sure to check out the other reviews for a balanced perspective!
This article originally appeared on my old blog, Townsley Times. If you came here looking for this particular article but thought you were going to a different site, never fear, you’re actually in the right place. 🙂
One to Ten: Squirrel’s Bad Day
I adore the premise of this book. It explains how we have to weigh each situation that happens to us on a sliding scale of how bad it really is. A lot of us naturally do this as adults, without much thought. But for kids? It’s something they have to learn. This method is popular in the autism community to help with emotional regulation. My 6yo has anxiety and tends to struggle with what is truly bad versus what is not a big deal, so I thought this would be perfect for her. My idea was that we would read the book and introduce this strategy for when she starts becoming upset with something.
Let’s start with the good: The illustrations are of woodland creatures, but they weren’t cutesy, but more whimsical, perhaps? They are rich and bright and look like watercolor. The kids enjoyed the pictures. The book gives plenty of examples for how to use the sliding scale and determine how bad something is, and it makes the point that some things seem bad at the time but looking back, they weren’t so bad after all, so to use that knowledge going forward for other things that seem bad at first. That’s great!
However, the author chose to use divorce and parental fighting as one example. To summarize those two pages, it mentions how a child might be upset that mommy and daddy will be living separately, but it’s not so bad after all because the fighting would stop. I was not happy about this being included. I can see how something like that might be necessary due to the sky-high divorce rates in our country and many children who are not born to stable, two-parent families. But for us, this is not something we are going to be explaining to a 6yo and a 4yo, so I skipped that page and moved on to the next without the kids really noticing.
The font in One to Ten: Squirrel’s Bad Day is all caps and somewhat hard to read for me, much less for a beginning reader.
Overall, I love the idea of the book, but not so sure about how it was executed. The tactic of giving your problem a number is still a good idea and we are working on implementing that in our home.
The Crew Goes Coconuts! A Captain No Beard Story
The premise of this one, which is the 6th installment in the Captain No Beard series, is that the crew aboard the ship is bullying a new crew member (a goat), and the captain has to step in and get them back in line. He does this by asking each crew member to say a good thing and then a bad thing about themselves. This made them feel badly about themselves, it seemed. The books turns around a bit after one of them says that nobody is perfect so we should look for something to like in everyone. The goat then saves everyone from certain death of thirst.
I chose this because I thought this was a nice topic for youngsters to start learning about, what with the bullying culture that youth are exposed to these days, even in the homeschool community.
The illustrations in this one were light and cartoonish, and also in a watercolor style. Some of the pictures were hard to distinguish what was going on and at first glance, looked inappropriate in a sexual way. There were two pages like this; one is pictured below. The other is the goat’s face, but up close, and due to the style of the illustrations, it looks like a woman’s curvy figure in a bikini. I asked two other adults what they saw, without giving any hints, and they had the same impression. My kids are not at the age where they would notice such things at least. I will say the font in this one was much easier to read – but I’m more concerned with the sexual stuff. I absolutely do not think this was something intentionally done, just to be clear. It’s just the style of the illustrations.
As an aside, if you are not familiar with the Captain No Beard stories, you should familiarize yourself by at least reading the back of the book (I didn’t – oops). The last page of The Crew Goes Coconuts! has children playing on a bed and a mom walking in, and it was a little confusing since I did not realize that Captain No Beard and the characters are actually a boy, his stuffed animals, and his imagination. My thought was, “Why are they now on a BED?!”
If You Were Me and Lived In…Colonial America
We enjoyed this one for the most part. It is written from the narrator’s standpoint of acting as if a child (the reader) came from England and is living in colonial America. The book is filled with interesting facts, but they are strung together in a way that doesn’t always make sense – facts for the sake of giving facts, which in a storybook, can be confusing and not flow well. Still, it was educational and the kids seemed to enjoy it. We learned about the way houses were built, what they ate, how they dressed, how difficult it was in the first few years, early relations with the Native Americans, and how family members all had to help each other out.
Divorce was again brought up in explaining why Protestantism came about. The book describes it as the king falling in love with another lady and wanting a divorce from his wife so they can have a male heir. I skipped over this when reading aloud. The way it was mentioned was so casual and like he had a good reason for it, and that’s not really something I want to be discussing with my kids yet. It is historical fact, however, that divorce played a role in the split from the Catholic church (although it was a long time coming), so for older kids, or families who have dealt with divorce, it might be a good discussion to have.
Some of the words in Colonial America are spelled out phonetically in parentheses (some of which are odd choices, in my opinion), and there is also a glossary in the back with definitions and pronunciations. In addition, there are super short biographies of a handful of people from the period. I thought these were really nice from a homeschool standpoint. This book is significantly longer than the other two, which would be great for older kids, but my 6yo was losing interest about 2/3 of the way through. The author does recommend these for ages 8 to 15, and an 8yo most likely would get a lot out of it, but I think a tween or teen might find the book to be too “kiddish.”
The illustrations are nicely done, but a little dark. The text is also printed on black paper which leant itself to the whole book having a dark feel to it.
I invite you to read the other reviews written by Homeschool Review Crew members to see their thoughts on the Carole P. Roman books. There were a large selection of titles available for us to review! Many of the Crew members love these books, so as a counterweight to my not-so-enthusiastic review, please check out some of the other reviews.