Review of “My Buddy Knows…Letters!” by Keith Wheeler

Living through the ups and downs of life, I always try to view things from other people’s perspectives. And while performing this psychological practice, I always come to one inescapable conclusion: it must be really weird to be four years old.

Think about it. Four-year-olds can walk and run, but their legs are still a little chubby and infant-like. They usually speak like grown human beings, but sometimes end up sounding like a drunk Cookie Monster on helium. And, though they’re new to life, they suddenly have expectations thrust upon them.

When you’re four or five years old, you have three jobs:

  1. Learn your letters
  2. Learn your numbers
  3. Don’t poop your pants

Assuming you find it within yourself to count to ten and become a true deacon of the diapers, all that’s left is to learn your alphabet. Master that and you can lord it over all the other five-year-olds forever.

Keith Wheeler’s “My Buddy Knows…Letters!” is a fantastic way to teach kids the alphabet. The book makes letters fun while still pounding that sweet, sweet learning into kids’ heads like a jackhammer of knowledge.

It starts with a simple phrase: “This is my buddy, Josh! Josh knows a lot about…letters!” Josh looks like a nice guy, even though he could really use some self-tanning lotion and maybe a fashion consultant. Regardless, he’s a welcoming figure that kids will gravitate toward.

Readers are then shown a picture of an object and, on the next page, told which letter it begins with (“My buddy knows that apple starts with A”, “My buddy knows that ball starts with B”, “My buddy knows that colonoscopy starts with C”, etc.)

But unlike other alphabet books, this one has a unique twist: it shows kids a picture of the object, and then tells them which letter the word starts with. A toddler reading this book with their parents will think “oh, that’s an apple.” just before the book tells them “Apple starts with A.”

At that moment, the wires in that kids’ head will connect and the electricity will start flowing. Pretend there’s a motionless hamster wheel in the middle of your child’s brain. Reading this book is like putting a steroid-infused hamster in the middle of that wheel and letting that rodent fly.

“My Buddy Knows…Letters!” by Keith Wheeler will alleviate some of the enormous stress your four year old endures between episodes of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” by breaking down letters in a way they can wrap their heads around. Keep an eye out for “My Buddy Knows…Numbers!”, too. I expect it to revolutionize my world in a similar way.

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