Score: 92/100 (9.2 out of 10)
The Adventures of CW: Choices is a lovely, heartwarming little children's book by Sandy Meeks, illustrated by Ashley Perales. The book follows the titular little boy, C.W., as he hops from adventure to adventure, situation after situation with his aunt, “Mimi.”
C.W. is armed with a very active imagination as well as a working conscience. He loves to imagine that he's a brave, adventurous cowboy, often dressing up as such. Though he responds emotionally to some situations, he is quick to catch himself (or be caught by Mimi) making a poor or hurtful choice that could be corrected or approached differently. That's perhaps the most beautiful part of this book: the fact that it invites young readers to consider their choices and the effects they have on other people and things.
Very young children, by their very nature, tend to be more egotistical and self-centered. They are, after all, lacking in the broader experiences that adults have. They also haven't developed such social skills as working as a team yet. However, children do develop a surprising moral compass early in life, learning right from wrong and kindness from unkindness. In ideal circumstances and with good upbringing, this moral compass develops and strengthens in time.
One of the great things about this book is how it gets you into the mind of a young kid. C.W. not only looks and acts like a little boy, he talks like one too (in the dialogue). While in most cases, this might be considered bad grammar, this is actually a plus in the book's favor. It adds to the genuineness and realness of the book. C.W. seems like a real-life kid doing and saying what real-life kids might do.
Let's face it: we've all done things we now regret in our younger years. Maybe we were disrespectful or rude to someone. Maybe we pushed or physically hurt someone out of anger or annoyance. Maybe we ate something that wasn't good for us. We cringe now (as adults), but as kids, those actions seemed normal or natural because, well, we were just kids.
This book consistently shows you the way that C.W. views animals. Generally, his view toward animals is very compassionate, thoughtful, and loving. For example, he feels empathy for the giraffe who is only allowed to eat vegetables. He thinks about how sad that would make him and thinks about feeding the giraffe steak and potatoes. Likewise, he feels empathy for the cows out in the snow. He thinks about how cold being in the snow made him, so at the next opportunity he goes outside to cheer them all up and feed them.
At the same time, C.W., like a normal human being, has moments of weakness. Case in point, he responds poorly when a dog jumps on him and starts licking him, pushing the dog away. It is only after a little introspection and a talk with his Mimi that he realizes that he was wrong and that he could've hurt his little dog friend by being impulsive.
Let's give some props to the illustrator and their illustrations. They did a rather phenomenal job. The art isn't Rembrandt, but it has a really colorful, innocent, child-like quality to it. These look like drawings that a very skilled child might make and color. They're really cute and appealing to the eye. Especially impressive are the portraits of the giraffe and the cows!
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