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Time is like a wibber…or something: More children’s book reviews

May 11, 2012

Board book!

I Love You, Little Bear is a board book by Angela Navarra.  Other than pointing out that it’s a colorful touch-and-feel, there isn’t much to say about it.  I think the kids will like it.

Fiction!

All For Me and None for All by Helen Lester is the story of a very greedy pig who manages to somehow learn a lesson when his friends don’t steal from him.  I guess they also help him find his stuff, but mostly, it’s because his friends didn’t steal from him.  Has he never been in a situation like this before?  Does he have no parents?  Ah well.  Cute illustrations by Lynn Munsinger.  Might go over well in story time, especially since there’s a lot of “What’s the REAL end of the clue to the treasure hunt supposed to be?  Can you guess the rhyming word?”  So I’ll think about it.

Sandy Asher’s Too Many Frogs! is interesting.  Froggie, who screws up Rabbit’s perfectly orderly life every night with his interruptions and mess, sounds kinda British.  “Good show, old chap!” but not really; that’s just how I read it.  And yes, Rabbit gets up the guts to say “Hey there, Frog, I never invited you to do all these things” buuuuut now Rabbit has changed?  Has the frog?  He does apologize.  I dunno.  I’m awfully critical, aren’t I?

Zombie in Love is ADORABLE for all those little future-goths out there.  Kelly DiPucchio tells the story of a poor dead boy who can’t find true love, probably because all the living people just don’t get him.  So he puts an ad in the newspaper and hopes that the perfect woman will come join him at Cupid’s Ball.  Scott Campbell’s pictures are on the cute side of gross.  It’s kind of a precursor for that little vampire.  I may try it on Valentine’s Day for the older kids…ooooor, maybe on Halloween.  Probably on Halloween.

The Big Test by Julie Danneberg is about a teacher who tries too hard to placate her students.  Actually, I think the idea of learning to test is great, but the kids are dropping like flies from anxiety, but apparently a party the day before makes all of that go away?  It doesn’t quite work for me.

The Spongebob Squarepants book And the Winner Is… by Jenny Miglis is about how Patrick copes with having an award-winning best friend.  The answer is: not well, but at least it’s not well in a funny way.  Cute, but probably just for Spongebob fans.

Mark your calendars, people: it’s a Caillou book I LIKE, rather than tolerate.  It’s called Caillou and the Big Slide by Jeannine Beaulieu and it’s the simple story of Caillou and his friend Clementine playing in a park with a slide so high up that Caillou gets scared when Clementine finally talks him up to the top.  Then he slides with his dad, and–spoiler–manages the next time to go up and down all by himself.  Quick, simple message: sometimes you just need help for the first time you do something.

Wait for it–I liked Caillou Goes Camping too!  What is going on here?  Caillou and his grandfather go camping, and that’s about it, but it’s really nice.  Again, Caillou is scared and the problem is simply dealt with.  This one’s written by Roger Harvey.

IS THE WORLD ENDING?  I like Caillou Sends a Letter too!  This one’s by Joceline Sanschagrin.  Next, you’ll be telling me the next Froggy book isn’t irritating!

Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee is a soft story with soft illustrations.

How to be a Baby–by Me, the Big Sister is by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sue Heap, and it is ADORABLE.  How to Get Married–by Me, the Bride is not adorable, but it’s cute enough.  (Kind of a let-down after the first one.)  The third one, How to Get a Job–by Me, the Boss is in between.

Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet is SO FREAKIN’ ADORABLE I MAY CRY.  (I may also be in the weepy phase of PMS today.)  Kelly DiPucchio (see above) makes me love the heck out of Gilbert, as does Bob Shea.  I am SO EXCITED to read this one at story time.  But which story time?  When?  ALL OF THEM??!?!?  We could make fish!  YESSSSS.

Easy Readers!

I like the We Both Read series.  This one, Frank and the Tiger by Dev Ross, is a cute one.  The child’s part is for K-1 and it doesn’t add much to the story, but at this level that’s not a big deal.  The illustrations by Larry Reinhart are charmingly old-fashioned.

Okay, so I’m reading this Level 3 DK book called Avengers Assemble, and not only is it in the fiction section (when it’s set up more like a non-fiction book) but OH MY GOD, THAT NIPPLICIOUS PICTURE OF THE WASP, WHAT THE HELL???  Also, it basically talks about how evil or bitchy or flighty most of the women are.  NOW TELL THE KIDS ABOUT HOW ANT MAN HIT HIS WIFE AND TONY IS AN ALCOHOLIC, MMKAY?  Also, my beloved Jessica Drew is on the cover but she’s not mentioned until page 40, but at least they don’t trash her.  Blargh, whatever.

Eve Bunting’s Frog and Friends: Best Summer Ever is a relaxing little level-three reader with adorable illustrations by Josee Masse.  First, Frog and Bat talk about how they are different and how they are similar.  Then, Frog wants to go on vacation but doesn’t turn anyone down when they ask to go.  This leads to him having a nice day where he gets the alone time he needs afterward.  Finally, a man named Starman comes and lets all the animals choose their own special stars.  How cute is that?  Very cute.  It’s so nice when books can be mellow without being dull.  (And even nicer when they can be exciting without being screechy, like another certain frog I know.)

Non-fiction!

Into the Wild is a collection of animal poems by David Elliott, well illustrated by Holly Meade.  The animals look real and not-real, and the poems are mostly hits–and you know how critical I am of poetry.  Some of them are really really clever.  This is a good book, y’all.

Into the Sea, however, I didn’t enjoy half as much.  It just didn’t capture my attention the way the other one did.  I heard there’ s a third in the series.  I don’t know if I ordered it.  I don’t think I did.  I think I’m going to see how the other two go out.

That’s it for this week, sort of.  I still have a ton to go through, but I need to start my weeding.  We got extra money to build and/or replace our classics collection so I want to replace first and then use the rest to build, build, build.  “Classics” is such a vague word; I’m excited to find out if I’ll learn a little something along the way during this project.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2012 6:40 pm

    Thank you for reviewing my book Brave Little Starling. This is my first book (every children’s book publisher rejected my manuscript, so I went the self-publishing route – maybe they didn’t like my illustrations either!) You’re right on with the method I used to do the art. My thinking was that since I was writing about a much-aligned gritty, urban bird – one that everybody sees every day but doesn’t think twice about – I would opt for a more “documentary” art style. I guess I didn’t quite pull it off. But I’m glad the story engaged you. If you have time to enlarge on your critical comment on the narrative (“…at the VERY end, there’s a brave little one, which is kind of like – lead with it?”) I would very much appreciate it – this will help me immeasurably with the next one. And thanks for the unsolicited plug – it WAS very generous of you.
    Don V. Booty

    • September 17, 2012 6:10 am

      There were some things you did with the art that I really enjoyed, but for me to be on board with the art (having no background in it at all and reacting only viscerally to everything) it has to gel with the story. If I remember correctly, as I don’t have the book in front of me right now, there was a lot of space on the pages that I thought could’ve been used more effectively, which I felt would’ve made the story more engrossing. There was that telescope view thing though, if I remember correctly, and I really liked that.

      But the thing about The Brave Little Starling is that I didn’t feel like it was about the brave one–it was about the family and the progression of the brave one, which is not the same thing. I was invested in the parents, and so the title didn’t quite work for me, because I wanted them all included. The Starling Family doesn’t have the same ring though.

      Your book is on display with the other new books at my library for six months, but I do think the cataloging of it in non-fiction is going to hurt its circulation. I didn’t feel like it was non-fiction, did you? Not in the way that the parents are looking for non-fiction when they’re in that section. I see why they did it, but I’m not sure I agree with it, and I’d like to get your opinion on the topic.

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