I’ve been a fan of Kelly Clarkson since her American Idol days in 2002. I’ve seen her in concert twice, own all of her CDs and I love her positive body image and her quirky, upbeat attitude.
I was excited when I found out our first babies – both girls, mind you – were due just weeks apart. We both had rough first trimesters, too. For some reason there’s nothing quite like knowing a famous celebrity is puking her guts out pregnant right along with you to give you a sense of solidarity.
Even though I’ve never met her person, I always felt a little bit like we were doing this mom thing together. When I found out Kelly Clarkson was releasing River Rose and the Magical Lullaby, a picture book inspired by her daughter, I was excited to read it. Hesitant – I’m always a little skeptical of celebrity-authored (or “authored”) books – but excited nonetheless.
I finally got my hands on a copy a few days ago and I’ve got mixed feelings about it.
The story is fairly simple. River Rose is so excited to go to the zoo in the morning that she can’t sleep. Her mother sings her a lullaby and soon River Rose is transported (by balloon, of course) on a magical adventure to the zoo. She throws a “zoo party” and goes “slip-sliding in the snow” with the penguins, plays “tag with an otter,” and makes herself a “GI-normous fudge sundae.”
In the end, she remembers her mother’s lullaby and goes back to bed, declaring,
“That was a great adventure—but home is my favorite place!”
What I loved
My daughter is OBSESSED with her new “Lullaby book!”
Usually my little girl takes a few reads to warm up to a new book but she instantly LOVED River Rose and the Magical Lullaby. I read it to her for the first time two nights ago and I think she’s requested it at least 15 times already. Every time we finish reading it she always wants to read it again. And again. And again. She also loves the lullaby from the book. I think we’ve listened to it over 100 times. In two days. No joke. Hands down, the fastest she’s ever formed a new favorite.
The illustrations are adorable
I think the illustrations are my favorite part of the book. They’re soft, sweet and full of bright colors with lots of fun details to explore. My daughter loves pointing out all of the different animals, musical instruments, books etc, on each page.
As much as I love them, I do, however, have one qualm with the illustrations. At one point, River Rose talks to a kangaroo. The text refers to the kangaroo as a “he” but the illustrations show a mother kangaroo with a joey in her pouch. Call me a stickler for details, but it bugs me every time I read it!
Music, music, music
Written by a Grammy Award-winning artist, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise but River Rose and the Magical Lullaby is full of music. In addition to Kelly Clarkson’s lullaby, we see River Rose and the zoo animals singing and dancing and a whole slew of musical instruments throughout the book.
And what I didn’t love
The meter (or lack thereof)
River Rose and the Magical Lullaby’s AB rhyme scheme helps give the book a softer, bedtime feel. The problem is, the meter falls all over the place, making it a bit awkward to read at times. Sometimes I find myself mentally editing some of the lines as I read it so they’ll flow more smoothly. With a songwriter for an author, I was a bit disappointed the words didn’t flow more naturally. I guess word stresses work differently when you’re singing!
I wish the lullaby track had more to it
The original lullaby performed by Kelly Clarkson is only about 40 seconds long. This works great as a parent trying desperately to sing the song (the girl could have given us something a little simpler to try to sing!) while reading the book but I wish she at least sang through it twice in the recording. When your child wants to play it on repeat again and again and again it gets pretty old pretty quickly. I also wish the lullaby tied in a bit better with the rest of the story. Something about adventure, or home but it’s more about the parent-child relationship.
The story isn’t anything new
Yes, my daughter loves the book but the story itself isn’t anything clever or new. We’ve got plenty of zoo books in our home already and if it didn’t have a famous author, there wouldn’t be much besides the illustrations to set the book apart. In this interview about the book Kelly Clarkson says, “I guess my hope is for little kids to read River Rose and the Magical Lullaby and you know, be inspired by it and know they can achieve anything and still dream big and make big things happen.” If that was her goal with the book, she didn’t quite get there for me. River Rose goes on a fun adventure and ultimately decides that home is her favorite place. Sadly, not really what comes to mind when I think of making big things happen.
While unfortunately it’s not my favorite children’s book, I’m still happy to read it to my two year old. She loves, loves, loves it, the illustrations are cute and I’m still a fan of my girl, Kelly. If you like Kelly Clarkson, lullabies, zoos or fun illustrations, there’s enough there to enjoy the read. I just wouldn’t classify it as “must have” or a family classic.
Sorry Kelly!! I’ll still buy your next CD! And heck, I may even by the matching River Rose doll for my daughter for Christmas.
If you buy the book (or anything) via this link, we make pennies!