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Professor Wibbell: More children’s book reviews

March 3, 2012

Fire Trucks by Judith Jango-Cohen tries its best for an easy book, but there are times that it fails.  “Pike poles can poke” is a good example of that.  The child is, I think, suppose to extrapolate from the previous line, but I found it confusing.  Otherwise, it’s a decent book for the collection

Huh.  Another disappointment, even more so: The Loopy Coop Hens by Janet Morgan Stoeke.  It’s so much less fun than I thought it would be.  It’s just about a bunch of chickens who want to fly and have a crush on a rooster.  Big deal.

Interrupting Chicken is pretty cute!  It’s by David Ezra Stein, and it’s about a chicken who, wait for it, interrupts her bedtime stories.  Part of me kept thinking it would be wackier, because “interrupting chicken” reminds me of the “interrupting cow” joke.  Do you know that one?

Knock-knock.

Who’s there?

Interrupting cow.

Interrupt–

MOO!

Hee.  So funny.  But yeah, I’m going to try this one with my evening story time kids this week, I think, and see what they think.

Aww, 999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura is really cute!  I think I’ll set this one aside for story time too.  It’s about how the tadpoles grow out of their pond and find a bigger one.  It’s exciting, but not TOO exciting.  Probably good for my toddlers.

AHHH!  Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett is EVEN CUTER!  Gotta read this to my older kids!  It’s about a girl who finds a box with yarn that never seems to run out.  The art is AWESOME too, simple but charming.  Good job, Jon Klassen!

Heheheheh, my old professor looks like Bernard from Megamind, so now I keep thinking that No More Kisses for Bernard by Niki Daly is about a little version of him/Megamind!Bernard.  It’s a cute little story about a boy who’s annoyed at being kissed all the time.  It’s got a different ending from the usual “But then it turned out I missed being kissed!” stories, which I really appreciate.  I may read it for the story time kids too.  Also, Bernard seems like a cool kid, with his love of Spider-Man and his skeleton shirt.

Yay!  More Hands-On Science Fun books!  How to Make a Bouncing Egg by Jennifer L. Marks is COOL, you guys!  I kind of want to try it, but I don’t eat eggs, so they’re not often in my house.  Sometimes, because my daughter likes them verrrrry occasionally, but not often.  How to Make Slime by Lori Shores is ALMOST as cool.  How to Build a Fizzy Rocket, also by Shores, is pretty cool too.  But there’s something so BIZARRE about bouncing eggs!  I kind of love it.  But…vegan!  But…bouncing eggs!

See Me Run by Paul Meisel is…a simple little book with a terrifying ending.  I don’t think he meant for it to be scary but, dude, it’s scary, okay?  No thanks.  My kids would probably like it more than I did, but they also haven’t seen Jurassic Park yet.

Animals Black and White by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes is a nice little animal guessing game, with a lot of information packed in.  I thought Baby Animals Black and White would be the same thing with simpler animals, but I was wrong.  It’s just a board book with pictures of animals and then you find they’re in a baby’s mobile.  It probably came out during that big black and white push in children’s books.  Remember that?

Abe’s Honest Words, written by Dorren Rappaport, is a moving biography on Abraham Lincoln.  Almost every page has not only information about his life, written simply and elegantly, but his own words on them.  The illustrations by Kadir Nelson are always beautiful, but at times a bit static for me.  Great book, belongs in every children’s bio section, I’d think.

Naamah and the Ark at Night, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, is a ghazal, a specific type of poem, although I cannot tell you if it’s a well-done ghazal, as it is only the second ghazal that I’ve read.  The other was I read was just now when I looked the history of the ghazal up.  I did think it flowed better than the text of this book, which feels far too repetitive, and the rhymes often feel far away from that final, repeated word.  Noah and Naamah are a bit too Caucasian-looking for me, too.  But the collage work in the art by Holly Meade is great.

Usually, I’m all about the Start to Finish series because it’s so clever, but Stacy Taus-Bolstad’s From Grass to Milk isn’t quite working for me.  It could be because I haven’t had milk in like four years now, or it could be because the definition of teat should not be “the part of a cow that milk flows from.”  Yeah, we got that from the text.  If you’re going to bold it and put something in the glossary, shouldn’t it say something more descriptive?  Are you afraid to say “nipple” or something, guys?  Come on.

I don’t know; I was looking forward to it but the whole thing put me off.  Also, all the milk on the floor of the factory.  I don’t know why that makes me shudder, but it does.

I replaced our copy of A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus by David A. Adler and I find it rather lightweight.  It does point out some bad things, but it seems to me like there are other books on the same reading level that pull less punches.  In that, I suppose, it’s just feeling its age.  I also got us a new A Picture Book of Helen Keller, which seems less like it’s missing things (unless you’re wanting to add in that chapter from Lies My Teacher Told Me about how she was a socialist and a radical and so forth). 

Freedom Song: The Story of Henry “Box” Brown by Sally M. Walker is exactly what I’m talking about when I say pulling no punches.  The story of Mr. Brown is fascinating and horrible–seriously, I was feeling claustrophobic and kinda sick to my stomach by the end.  But it’s such a necessary story to tell.  Sean Qualls does a great job of illustrating, although teeth are not his strong suit–there are times when it looks like everyone’s a vampire.  I wish I’d gotten to this one sooner to display for Black History Month, but since it’s new it’ll get its time on the shelf.  The books are going more slowly this year than last.  I wonder why.

I also read Jazz Age Josephine, which is by Jonah Winter with bright pictures by Marjorie Priceman.  It’s more song than book, really, and should come with a CD.  But I guess making up the rhythm is more fun alone–except, what a great way to introduce children to jazz?  Anyway, it’s a great book, although sad Josephine toward the end may confuse the kids a little, because she sounds so conflicted, yet there’s no sense of resolution at the end.

I am so picky about my resolutions.  You get that in the Author’s Note at the end, though.

Garbage Trucks by Marlene Targ Brill hits all the points, but not in the order I’d prefer.  It discusses landfills on the second page, and then again at the end, so it’s like “Um, didn’t we cover this?  You don’t get a lot of pages, you know.”  It also feels older than it is, because of its awkward phrases on recycling.

Cookie Monster’s Busy Day by Ernie Kwiat is another Brand New Readers book from Sesame Street, which consists of little tiny chapters with a synopsis beforehand that may as well not be there, since ALL IT DOES IT TELL YOU EXACTLY WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.  I mean, with almost all the same words.  It’s three sentences to, like, six.  Whyyyy?  Is it because if the parents read the synopsis, the kids will just basically repeat them to read the story?

DK’s Astronaut: Living in Space has solid text by Kate Hayden, but OMG, what the hell is up with the pictures?  They go back and forth from drawing to photograph, which wouldn’t be an issue except one of the photographs?  Is obviously not the person they’re talking about, unless Karen grew a giant moustache in space.  Apparently, this is about a real person, but I needed the description on Goodreads to tell me that because I cannot find that information anywhere else.

I am twitchy about body stuff, but even so, The Magic School Bus Has a Heart by Anne Capeci seems a bit repetitive to me.  And the pictures are sooo busy, but I know kids love the series.  I like the puns. 😀

Eruption! The Story of Volcanoes by Anita Ganeri has a lot of good information in it.  I enjoyed it very much, and would consider it a strong pick for any collection.

Okay, that’s it for me!  Next time: A LOT MORE BOOKS.  They’re pouring in now.

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