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Duchess Wibbley: The Week in Children’s Books

January 5, 2012

DK’s My First Truck Book by Constance Robinson proves that we are seriously underestimating our children.  We KNOW that they will learn the difference between a grader and a scraper by the time they’re two if they really dig on trucks, but the rest of the books are just “hey, there’s the word cat!” or other simple terms.  The truck book knows better and dumbs nothing down for the little ones who will want to take this book out over and over again.  As others have said before me, “If kids can learn all the different Pokemon, they can learn the periodic table of the elements.”  We need more board books with specialized language!

Richard Scarry’s board books This is Me, Shapes & Opposites, From 1 to 10, and Colors are pretty smart too, especially This is Me, which covers everything from body parts to coat hangers.  These books cover the basics, but they also feel like they have a narrative, even when they don’t, because there’s not that horrible static sense that you get from a lot of board books.  Always loved Richard Scarry.  Can’t wait until his mysteries get here.  I sort of remember who stole the…necklace?

A Giant Crush by Gennifer Choldenko teaches kids that if you don’t speak up, nothing’s going to happen.  Sure, it’s set in a classroom around Valentine’s Day with the main plot being about a secret admirer, but this lesson can be stretched for sure.  I liked it a lot. 

Hippo & Rabbit in Three Short Tales, by Jeff Mack, is like Elephant & Piggie lite, but it’s a good rec for kids who’ve read all the Elephant & Piggie books already.  Cute.

Animal Disguises by Emma Ryan is one of my favorite kinds of ER books–find the animals!  Can you spot the stickbug?  The white rabbit in the snow?  But it’s also informational, and interestingly so.  I liked this one too.

And to go back into last year’s reads…

Todd Parr’s The I’M NOT SCARED Book is a great book for any kid who’s been scared.  It gives children coping mechanisms without overwhelming them.  Afraid of being lost in the grocery store?  Hold your parent’s hand every time, and you’ll be fine.  I loved this book.

A Box Full of Kittens is the poorly-named book by Sonia “Maria from Sesame Street” Manzano.  Her book, which really isn’t much about kittens at all, but rather a little girl who wants to be a superhero (YAY!) is a cute read, but feels very scattered for a picture book.  Still, I think kids will enjoy it–I’m just a stickler for a straight, obvious narrative, I guess, so long as it isn’t dumbed down–and you know if you put Sesame Street on the cover of anything, it goes.

Sloan Macrae’s Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves are good non-fiction reads for little ones who love baseball.  I’m pretty sure I’ll pick up more from this set later in the year, now that I’ve read these and they’re going out on a regular basis.

The Barnyard Boogie by Shawna Stewart was so full of typos I sent it back.  I don’t know exactly how we ended up wtih all these self-published books, but I actually have some idea now, and it’s really bothering me.  I’m all for self-publishing, but the books we see have sub-par art, and horrible stories, and rhymes that don’t scan, and typos, typos, typos.  Sigh.  Sandra Hauenstein’s Little Flowers goes into this category too, although I don’t think I sent that one back.

I am going through my Excel file, and I feel like I’ve written about some of these before.  Time to check that out.  No pun intended.  More children’s books next week–the adult/teen WIB may come sooner.

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