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Archduke Wibz Ferdinand: More children’s book reviews

January 14, 2012

So much as a few passing sentences can be called reviews.

My co-worker made me read It’s a Book by Lane Smith.  Ha!  People on Goodreads are all over the place on this one–some consider it for adults, like Go the Fuck to Sleep, and others consider it anti-technology, and others consider it hateful.  Some a combination.  Some love it.  I thought it was hilarious.  There’s nothing anti-technology about it.  No one makes a judgment  call against technology.  It’s funny.  It has a grown-up punchline.  Maybe it IS for the picture-books-for-adults crowd.  Maybe.  I’m taking it out for my kid, either way.

Oh, we got the hardcover version of The Secret Birthday Message.  It really isn’t any different than the board book, except that I think that the board book is cooler because of the thickness of the pages, and the puppy at the end looks SLIGHTLY less depressed.  So much for hoping for the board book to be a condensed version of a longer story.

Richard Scarry’s The Great Pie Robberty and Other Mysteries contains my very first mystery story: The Great Steamboat Mystery.  From a modern perspective, the jokes could be punchier and the characters more…colorful?  But the mysteries are solid, go figure!  You CAN figure out who did it, but not SO easily that it’s no fun.  Someone should update Sam and Dudley and give them a TV show.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover by Lucille Colandro has it all: bad art that reminds me of the nausea of sitting through the wobbly animation of Dr. Katz, it doesn’t scan well, it’s shoehorned to fit an existing story/character into a holiday theme.  Awkward and ugly.

Hannah Shaw’s School for Bandits is a cute read for bigger little guys.  There’s so much going on here and there, that it will be easiest to get into this one when they start to read on their own.  Ralph Raccoon is no bandit, and his parents are mortified.  Maybe a trip to Bandit School is in order?  The lesson–you get more when you’re nice (honey, vinegar, etc.)–is sort of awkward because the end result is that you’ve got a whole group of raccoons who are doing things for what they can receive in return.  But if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s why kids do things, okay?  So.

Clemency Pearce’s Frangoline and the Midnight Dream was a book I wanted to like more than I did.  I liked Rebecca Elliott’s art, I liked the idea…but the execution left me cold.  The refrain scans weird (it might sound better aloud), WHY is she the way she is, what have we learned at the end, WHY isn’t she twice as charming as she could be?  I suppose this might be a little girl’s Where the Wild Things Are, but that one never won me over, either.

We got a book in for Chinese New Year, but it bugs me.  The Year of the Dragon (Tales from the Chinese Zodiac) is bland, obvious, and you KNOW if it were animated it would have some of the most grating voices in all of animation.  Also, why are the main character’s lines bolded?  I thought maybe it was a dragon thing (good) but it wasn’t, just a main character thing (bad).  The art is attractive but too cutesy.


Also, why is a Chinese dragon called “Dominic”?  Why does NO ONE in the book look Chinese?

Finally, we have Nancy Tafuri’s All Kinds of Kisses, which is cute.  I’d call it bland except I just used that word for The Year of the Dragon.  It’s really more laid-back, bedtime story casual, with animal sounds and kisses.  Maybe it would  not be something I’d read to my work kids, but my own kids if I were ever going to have more.  (God forbid.)  More of a read-aloud than a read, if you know what I mean.

Ah, only about a billion more to go, and I haven’t even touched the backlog. D:

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