Saturday, April 7, 2012

Book Review: Suzie Bitner Was Afraid of the Drain

My dad made my lunch-
He meant to be sweet, 
But the meal that he packed
I'm not sure I can eat....

This is the beginning to a poem that left me smiling and quite possibly with a few giggles, My Dad Made my Lunch by Barbara R. Vance. As the poem continued, it left me thinking about how life after combat has changed my husband and how this would most definitely be something he would do.

Suzie Bitner was afraid of the Drain is a book filled with poems and illustrations by Barbara R. Vance. This book is perfect for children and will leave your little one full of laughs, smiles, and things they can relate to. From poems about Patience, Sharing, My Brother Is Driving me Crazy, Braces, someone being Sick to Maisy brushing her teeth and so much more, parents will be thrilled to see their children smiling as they read through 'Suzie'.

Barbara created illustrations for every poem she included in 'Suzie', pulling people of all ages into each page. 'Suzie' will turn a child's mood from sad to happy after reading a few lines of any poem in the book.

While Suzie Bitner was afraid of the Drain is not a book based on deployments, life after combat or anything related to these things, it is a book that people of all ages will enjoy reading. It is a book filled with things that children and even adults can relate to. 'Suzie' also caught my attention in the fact that my nine year old, who has ADHD, is drawn to it. She can read and comprehend. While reading the poems, it took her to another place and left her with a smile. The way the poems are written and pictures are illustrated

Overall, this book is a wonderful read. The poems and illustrations have been created in ways that kids will understand. 'Suzie' is a book that I would recommend being in all homes and shared with many. As I read through it, it took me back to when I was a child reading Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends and left me thinking this is the first book that has held a place next to Silverstein's book.

Suzie Bitner was afraid of the Drain
Suzie Bitner was afraid of the drain, and so she never showered,
And consequently smelled like milk that was left to long -- and soured,
"I simply won't go near the tub", she pinched her face and cried.
"The moment I turn the water on, it will suck me down inside!"...
Oh, did I leave you hanging onto what happens to Suzie and her bath? Pick up a copy of Suzie Bitner was afraid of the Drain  for your house, for your child. Bring childhood in yourself to life again as you share the laughs and insight of situations and experiences in this book.

About the Author, Barbara R Vance

Barbara Vance wanted to make a contribution to a cause that she felt was important. Her
grandfathers, father, sister, and brother-in-law had all served in the armed forces; so it’s not at all
hard to believe that she chose the USO’s United Through Reading program as a perfect
complement to her children’s book, “Suzie Bitner Was Afraid of the Drain”.

“Suzie” is a hardcover collection of 124 poems with over 100 black-and-white illustrations. It
has received both a Moonbeam Children’s Award and an Indie Book Award, has been nominated
for a Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literacy Award and for a Digital Book World
Publishing honor, and was in the running for a Texas Bluebonnet Award. Lauded as the largest
collection of children’s poetry since “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, the book has received nods
from The School Library Journal, KERA’s Art & Seek, and numerous others.

The poems range from humorous to whimsical. With situations such as getting stuck in a tree,
training a dog, and a girl who turns into a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, “Suzie” offers a
lighthearted perspective of childhood in an upbeat tone, without any apologies for the little
things that are so important in the life of a child. It is a book that boys and girls can grow with,
appealing primarily to elementary-aged children. To both encourage and teach children, some
challenging words are interspersed throughout and, on her website, the author makes available a
free printable dictionary, written just for vocabulary words found in the book.

But here’s the wonderful part: although the book is available through major retailers, what many
people don’t realize is that books purchased on Barbara’s own website reap a special reward. In
an effort to pair her love of children’s poetry with a cause that means a lot to her, Barbara has
decided that, for each book sold on the “Suzie” site, she will donate one to the USO’s “United
Through Reading” program. Departing service members select and read a book aloud; the event
is recorded; and the book and accompanying DVD are shipped home to his/her kids, so they
have the opportunity to see their parent and hear his/her voice. “It means a lot for the children of
our soldiers to be able to see their moms or dads reading to them, even when they’re far away,
and to follow along as the stories are read to them,” she said. “I am proud to do what I can to
make their time apart a little easier.”

We hope you will get the word out so more books can be provided to our Troops’ families
through this very worthwhile project! For more information, please visit

Suzie Bitner was afraid of the Drain
By Barbara R Vance
April 2010 

Brittney Biddle
FOV Communications Liaison

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