People that know me, know that I am very passionate about books aimed at young readers. A well produced book will pass on the love of the written word to a new generation. In fact one of these days I plan on writing a book about how to write books for young children!

It was my wife Jan that first heard about Dingle, “here is one you will like” she knowingly said. I read the press release, and I was hooked. I had to get my hands on this one!

What I found in Dingle was an approach that I had never seen employed before. Audrey Kinsella has created a truly unique experience in a scant 20 pages. The normal challenge in a child’s book is to maintain that delicate balance between education and entertainment. Audrey Kinsella has taken this in a new direction, why limit the education to just the young? Regardless of your age there are always new things to learn.

In Dingle we learn that knowledge is not a one way street running from old to young, rather it is potentially a wonderful two way transition if you open your heart and mind.

I had the opportunity to talk to Audrey Kinsella prior to reading Dingle, it was an eye opening conversation. Her background includes many years in the telecommunications world, as well as working with people with disabilities, and the elderly. She has written books, and many articles on these subjects, but Dingle is her first foray into the children’s world.

An often used cliche is that a picture is worth a thousand words. That is so true in Dingle, there are few words, yet every picture does tell a story. Susan Anderson-Shorter has done an excellent job on the illustrations. They are crisp and a simple color palette has been used.

The actual storyline is a curious one, we get to meet wheelchair bound Aunt Reeny who insists that there is nothing that she can not do:

Service dogs. Nice idea – for some

Her pet dog Dingle has other ideas. Dingle’s friend Rex offers advice and equipment. Dingle does not want to be a run of the mill service dog, rather one with a unique talent, The Helpful Ice Cream Cone Delivery Dog.

I see Dingle as a great teaching tool. While the story line is simple, every page offers openings into learning situations through discussion. I could also see this book in a classroom setting, it is almost perfect for a number of group activities.

I would like to see Audrey Kinsella take Dingle one step further. She should produce a ‘cheat sheet’ for parents and teachers. A list of conversation points as the book is being read.

For a number of years I was involved in adult education, very often working with very low literacy levels. This experience has rubbed off on me and as a result I tend to look at aspects of a book that others might not. I am a huge fan of fonts. The style and shape of characters makes a huge difference in the understandability of text. Clearly Audrey Kinsella shares my concern, she has opted to use two fonts, the cartoon like bubbles are a variation on Comic Sans, a well rounded, friendly and easy font to understand. A font that a young learner should have few problems with. The text on each page is repeated in a larger print size at the bottom of the page. This is a great idea, with young readers ‘size does matter’.

Audrey Kinsella has opted to use a different font for this second text version. My only quibble with this choice is that the letter ‘g’ is overly busy, and the letter ‘j’ is under-formed.

I have to admit that as I write this, I am laughing at myself. I am probably the only book reviewer that digresses into a discussion on the shape of a letter :)

I like Dingle a great deal, it has been carefully crafted, and is the work of an author that has a very clear understanding of the message she is trying to convey.

Generally I am a hoarder of books, once I get my hands on one it is stuck with me for life. In the case of Dingle I am going to make an exception, it is too good not to share. My wife has a cousin with a granddaughter who loves books, maybe the term reading is a little premature, but she does sound out the words. I am going to make sure that she gets to enjoy Dingle.

You can order your copy of Dingle – The Helpful Ice Cream Cone Delivery Dog by clicking on the Amazon link above, you can also visit Audrey Kinsella’s web site here.

Simon Barrett

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