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Kim Tomsic

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mister Lemur Combines Cultural Literacy with Seuss/Silverstein Style

Mister Lemur’s book, TRAIN OF THOUGHT features short stories in rhyming verse. Many of the tales have clever educational twists. Clever, I say, because while the reader has fun, he/she never feels manipulated into learning. How? The author avoids talking down to children and freely throws in words like ‘phylum’ or ‘symbiotic’. Science words appear in the heart of adventurous and crazy stories with definitions highlighted at the bottom a respective page. While memorable images are conjured up in the midst of a wild story scene, the words stick like superglue right to the child’s mind. Voila, education transpires.  Mister Lemur stories are cute, whacky and wily with learning as an added bonus.
Although I was a bit bugged by some of the rhyming meter, I easily got over myself. The amusing stories are different from the norm; in fact, I’d categorize them as a hip version of a classical style. It’s easy to see why kids in the twenty-first century love Mr. Lemur.  The tag line on Mister Lemur’s homepage is, “Moving kids forward, taking parents back.” It’s a balance they brilliantly accomplish. Although the stories are modern, they evoke memories from a parent’s childhood.  Old PBS songs come to mind…remember Conjunction Junction, What’s your function? Mister Lemur’s Threeple feels like a shout-out to Norton Juster’s Phantom Tollbooth while 2043 has a lovely Seuss-ish feel. Furthermore the book is structured like a Shel Silverstein work. Some pages feature short poems while others include short stories and sweet black-line illustrations. Although I’ve grown to love my Kindle, the quality of this book felt luxurious in my hands.
Kudos to the creators of Mister Lemur. Their passion for children, education, science, philanthropy, wordplay and the Mister Lemur project shines. Mister Lemur's caretakers offer school visits (a Stanford, Wharton educated pair) and they provide a kid-friendly web page where children can ask Mister Lemur questions. Mister Lemur also offers writing contests, music, games, and a regular Mister Lemur newsletter. A portion of all proceeds is donated to wildlife.  

Some of my favorites from Mister Lemur include: Summer Vacations, Den Head, Threeple, Eyeball, Continental Plates, 2043

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