"Me First" by Max Kornell is a picture book that kids will love to read over and over. Siblings especially will enjoy seeing how Hal and Martha, two young donkeys, argue over EVERYTHING. And everything turns into a contest -- fair or not.
Hal and Martha both want to go first at checkers. And when Martha wins, Hal claims it's only because he let her win. Packing to go to the river for an afternoon becomes a race. Racing to a rock (or a tree stump) become races.
Hal is first to put his toe in the river. He is first to swim to the other bank. He is first to pile rocks. Martha is the first to skip rocks over the water. At the end of a day filled with races to be "first," Hal and Martha take a different path home.
Martha is first to taste some berries they find. They are horrible. Hal is first to crawl through a hollow log. It is filled with cobwebs and Martha helps him clean up. When Martha wants to be first to cross the creek on a log and the log cracks, she falls into the creek. Hal helps her up.
By the time they get home, they are tired of competing. Hal opens the door for Martha. She tells him to be first to get cleaned up because he's covered in cobwebs. And the end circles around to the beginning -- perfectly. They play checkers -- who should go first?
Kornell's illustrations are really lovely. He alternates some pages where there is lots of white space with full-page illustrations filled with lots of bright colors and calming scenes. There are large green meadows and a huge swath of green hills and blue sky.
Great moral (cooperation), cute story and clever narration and dialogue make this a perfect real aloud for kids from four to seven.
Please note: This review is based on the F&G provided by the publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books, for review purposes.
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