As the title indicates, Meredith Santoso’s The Magical Words of My Stories is a compilation of stories — although readers who expect them to be centered on abracadabra-type magic words or a reading experience with magical writing will be disappointed here.
The three stories in this children’s picture book are: “Peepers Go To School, Valentine’s Day Party!”; “The great race [sic, lower case words]”; and “The returning adventures of heart puppy [sic, lower case words].” They are difficult to summarize, due to a plethora of writing problems that obscure the author’s intended meaning.
The issue is evident in the first sentence of the first story. Accompanied by a picture of a mother hen and four chicks, the text reads: “Bottles, Beaker, Big Mouth, Peep!” Mother hen quakes with a tug for each of them.” Readers might guess that these are the names of the chicks, but they will be baffled at what quaking “with a tug for each of them” means. The page also includes the statement: “Mother also recalled as she hen puddled out of the young chicks’ room.” Since no recollection is provided for the mother to recall, this is perplexing, as is what it means to “hen puddle” out of a room.
These problems are only intensified as Santoso delivers much more lengthy paragraphs, in which neither dialogue nor descriptive passages are separated. Packed paragraphs continue in the remaining two stories, which also are unfortunately replete with problems of missing or misused punctuation, confusing dialogue, action, and word choice.
Dwight Nicaytuna demonstrates a cartoonist’s flair with his bright illustrations, but the writing in The Magical Words of My Stories will be daunting for readers to navigate.