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ER, excuse me, Mr. Wibbs

January 13, 2012

It’s ER review day here at Bookslide!  Easy Readers as far as the eye can see–mostly because my desk is fairly clean today.

I had to start with Happy Pig Day! by Mo Willems because I’m been looking forward to reading this book since we got it.  More Mo!  WHEEEEEEE!  I’ve yet to meet a Mo book I didn’t love, and kids will go crazy for the surprise “twist” at the end.  YAY MO!  (Also, the finding of the pigeon in this one was extra hilarious.)

Jonah: God’s Messenger, a level 2 book from Zonderkidz, does not have an author listed, only an artist (Dennis G. Jones) who manages to be both busy and same-y on every page.  Still, other than the occasional oddly-placed exclamation point, the story’s solid for those looking for a biblical message.  (And even then, it’s fine so long as you don’t do a cold read–you’ll get the inflection once you’ve read it once.)

Melissa Lagonegro’s level 2 Cars 2 book, Mater’s Birthday Surprise, should really come with a Cars 2 logo and not the regular Cars logo.  Oh sure, all the kids who read it will probably have seen the movie, but boy will they be confused if they haven’t.  The description on Goodreads is weird too–Mater doesn’t think anyone remembers his birthday?  That’s…not in the book at all.  Is it in the movie?  Mater’s “trick” is confusing, or at least confusingly drawn.  I’m sure Cars fans will want this book, but I find it as awkward as most movies-to-books.

Apparently, Here Comes Peter Cottontail, a level 2 book from Kristen L. Depken, is an adaptation of a movie I’ve never heard of, which came out seven years ago.  Maybe if not in book form, it would make sense, but…um, a time machine?  An evil bunny who basically seems to want to turn Easter more Halloween-y?  I’M SO CONFUSED.  Does anyone know this movie?  Does it warrant a book years later?  WHAT IS GOING ON HERE???

My last level 2 is thankfully a Thomas the Tank Engine book, Easter Engines.  Never a fan of the show, I can still appreciate that the book is better than the other level 2s I’ve read so far today.  I don’t need to have it explained to me who everyone is because their roles are obvious; I don’t feel like I need to fill in the gaps by watching something.  Good job, Thomas & Friends.  This is how you adapt something to an Easy Reader.

I know it isn’t easy.  You don’t get a lot of words, or space, but you still have to manage to tell a story.  What bothers me is that a lot of these are big names.  They should be setting the standard.  Yet many of them fail.  ANY adaptation should be able to be read on its own, like Easter Engines.  They should not be gapped versions that seem to exist to sell a product, since most parents who buy books, or look them up at the library, aren’t choosing them because they’re there, but because the children are already familiar with the characters.  See how this creates a confusing cycle?  If the kids know the story, the gaps shouldn’t matter, but they do, because without the original version, the books can’t be read–and yet, and yet, the Thomas books say they can be used as introductions to the characters, the world, AND THEY CAN.  So even if you’re waiting for Cars 2 to come out on DVD because Junior can’t sit in a theater that long without driving you and everyone else around you crazy, guess what?  Awesome, the books can tide him over, introduce him to the characters.  Oh wait, but no, haven’t seen anything like that so far, unfortunately.  Sigh.

Why does marketing always seem so WRONG?

Oh God, there’s another one.  A Barbie one too.  I think there’s only ever been one Barbie book that didn’t bug me.  Oh great, it’s a movie adaptation.  Surf Princess, an adaptation of Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2, by Chelsea Eberly, is your usual Barbie fluff, but with few gaps and a general, though not consistent, handle on narrative.

And that’s all I want to say about that.

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