preschooler reading with stuffed toyCuddle up with a good picture book, add a plush character from the story and you have literacy plus play! I introduced Opal from Toot and Puddle: The One and Only, by Holly Hobbie to little Caroline. She immediately tucked sparkly Opal, in her double pleated voile tutu, under her arm in anticipation of the story.

Bubbles seems to think everything Opal does is peachy. Her admiration comes in the form of mimicry as she copies Opal’s every move. If imitation is the highest form of flattery then why protest, but Opal’s friend, Daphne can’t stand it! Finally there is something that Bubbles can’t copy–the dance steps for their “May Extravaganza.” Opal must save the day and teach Bubbles the steps. In the end, everyone knows that Opal is the only “one and only!”

Leading the reader through the holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s day, the author delights children with her drawings of piggies dressed up in costumes and Opal and Bubbles drawing a “Cupig” for Valentines Day. Two year-old Caroline loved the humor in a silly word that is close, but off target. But her favorite scene was where Opal taught Bubbles the dance steps to “Hop, step and kick.” chiming in with the dance directions, Caroline activated her Opal doll to the chant of, “Hop, step, kick!”

Kids love a stuffed toy and better yet when it is a character in the story who they can relate to. Children act out parts of the story with their figure and then extend the story by inviting their Opal to a tea party with other friends or taking a nap with favorite stuffed animals. Using the toy to carry on conversations builds language skills and encourages turn taking while talking. When Opal steps out of the book, she becomes real. Wouldn’t any little girl want her name embroidered in pink on her ballet tutu?

The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “The One and Only” and Opal were provided for review by Yottoy.