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Children’s WIB early December

December 5, 2012

I’m a-slowing down, guys!  So are the orders, as we’ve completed our lists for the year and are just waiting for the last books to trickle in.

Whew.

So I’ve got these Christmas books to put out this week, except that I accidentally put a Halloween book in the pile.  The saving grace here is that it’s pretty bland.  It’s called Trick or Treat, it’s by Leo Landry, and it even comes with a little inaccurate (to the story) tagline: Sometimes it’s a treat to be tricked!  I feel I was tricked into thinking this book would be cute.  It wasn’t.

Speaking of bland…Johanne Mercier’s Caillou: Merry Christmas didn’t do much for me.  Caillou’s psyched about Christmas, there’s a cat, nothing really happens, presents in the morning.  The end.

I got a new copy of Lauren Cecil’s A Fresh-n-Fruity Spring, which is a Strawberry Shortcake book that left me wondering, How do these characters pay for things?  It’s about Orange Blossom being an idiot and everyone having to take her by the hand and tell her she doesn’t have to be independent after all.  Or learn to organize.  Sigh.

And then I found out how they pay for things!  I mean, they all run stores so there had to be something, right?  In A Berry Bitty Christmas (and it sure is bitty, in talent, in content, etc), Amy Ackelsberg attempts to recreate the French short story “The Necklace” with Strawberry Shortcake and Blueberry Somethingorotheother.  Of course everything ends up just fine.  Also: next time, use cash.

Olivia Counts Down to Christmas probably would’ve been cuter without the bland artwork, which I guess has something to do with the TV show.  Also, her brother has the same name as the author?  HMMM.  But yeah, Olivia.  Christmas.  NOT written by Falconer, but instead someone named Maggie Testa.  Good for Olivia fans, skippable by everyone else.

Dora’s Christmas Carol is about teaching Swiper the true meaning of Christmas, which apparently isn’t about swiping at all.  (Dora and Awesome Latino Santa would not like our ornament “exchange” party.  There is a lot of stealing.  But it’s all in good fun.)  They go back in time to see all the babies and stuff, and then they go into the future, where Dora looks FABULOUS.  For real.  But it’s still Dora, and Christine Ricci does what she can, but…it’s still Dora.

The Twelve Days of a Muppet Christmas (And a Chicken in a Pine Tree) is nowhere near as good as The Muppets and John Denver singing the original song, but there are a few laughs in this book by Martha T. Ottersley.  The flip-the-flaps are totally wasted, though.

Nathan Hale’s The Twelve Bots of Christmas is moderately clever.  There’s some good punning, especially at the beginning, and then I pretty much ceased to care, sorry.

Okay, enough Christmas.  It’s not like I have seasonal joy.

We Are Moving by Mercer Mayer is the story of how parents don’t tell their children anything that would assuage their fears of moving, because they’re jerks.  I mean, you don’t even house hunt WITH your little kids?  COME ON.  Jerks.  But hey, Little Critter, you’re a CRITTER, so I think maybe you shouldn’t say stuff about monsters.  AFAIC, you’re a mini-monster yourself.

Look, I don’t mean to be down on everything, but some days are like that.  Thomas-saurus Rex bugged me from the beginning, because it has an advertisement in the front.  That is just wrong, man.  Even Lego doesn’t do that with the poorly-written books that are meant to sell toys.  But then it’s a story about being mean and bullying where nothing happens to the bullies–they don’t even get a talking-to!  However, it does seem to be the story where Thomas has the most personality I’ve ever seen in him, so there’s that.  I just don’t and will never get Thomas the Tank Engine.  It’s sooo dull.

Aww, I wanted to love Mary Ann Hoberman’s I Like Old Clothes, but I only like it.  Love the twee illustrations by Patrice Barton, but the text is too sentencey to be good rhymey.  I don’t know.  It’s good.  I wonder what Fancy Nancy would say about it, though.  Would she turn her nose up at not-new things, or say OOH LA LA that’s fabulous?  But I think the book is a good counterbalance to all the shiny new girly-girls in everything.

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta is ALSO not as cute as I expected!  My heart is breaking.  I mean, it’s pretty cute and all, and Ed Young’s art is neat, but…the art is actually really COOL, and the story is really ADORBS (in theory), so it’s like…I mean, I know I’m picky about art matching story, and this one doesn’t quite do it for me.

Sigh.  The Berenstain Bears and the Bully is one of the worst pre-Mike Berenstain books I’ve ever read.  The rhymed moral in the beginning is awful, the story has Sister fighting back with her actual fists after two days of “training” with no adult in sight, and ends with an awkward mention of a school psychologist.  Yikes.

ER series of picture books rarely meet expectations, and Pinkalicious is that way too.  I mean Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious and the Pinktastic Zoo Day imagines a world where adults don’t work in zoos.  Also, I hate that she is obviously imagining things but there’s no sign to the reader that this is true, since we’re talking about little kids reading on their own here.  They’re used to magical worlds, so tell them if they’re in one, or if she’s just daydreaming!  It’s confusing and I don’t like it.

So yeah, I was pretty much grumpy about everything today.  But hey, if they’d been better…

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