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Wibley Field: Even more children’s book reviews

June 11, 2012

Because I can’t possibly do anything else.

Picture books! (E fiction)

But hey, we are starting with a real winner here.  I know I can be snarky, but not in this case.  Chloe and the Lion is fan-freakin’-tastic.  Mac Barnett is the clay figure author, and Adam Rex is the clay figure illustrator.  I don’t want to tell you anything because it’s so funny if you go into it without knowing much, except that it’s mix media and adorable.  There.  Done.  Get it.  Love it.  Share it.

Dora Goes to School by Leslie Valdes is a tolerable get-ready-for-school book.  Unfortunately, because it’s a Dora book, I’ll never love it, but there’s a bit more to the text than you usually see in Dora, which makes it a little less grating.  Like, with Swiper, it says Dora and Boots stood their ground, which I really appreciated.  It makes it sound like “Swiper, no swiping” isn’t magical words that they use to repel him, but rather the kind of firmness you use with toddlers to get them to know you mean business.  So, that’s something.

Although I still have my reservations about a de-aged Amelia Bedelia, Herman Parish’s new book Amelia Bedelia’s First Vote is pretty cute, I must say.  Lynne Avril’s art is cute too.  It’s just a cute book.  Period.

Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story by Will Hillenbrand is too repetitive and simple for my adult mind.  Many, many, many words are repeated three, three, three times.  You can see how that might be annoying for a parent.  But you know how kids are about repetition, so this is a good library choice but perhaps not the best home purchase.

Tallulah’s Tutu by Marilyn Singer is the first book about Tallulah.  I reviewed the second I little while back.  This book is still cute–although the characters, drawn by Alexandra Boiger, always look a little smirky–but I feel it’s not as strong as the second.  Tallulah spends most of the book assuming rather than asking–a good lesson–and then pitches a fit and quits dancing, only to go back to it when she misses it so much–a good lesson?  I don’t know; it wasn’t as good, for sure.  But still good for aspiring ballerinas.

Look, Marilyn Singer, you’re a nice lady and everything, but what the hell is going on with The Boy Who Cried Alien?  It has a lot of good ideas–aliens instead of wolves, and stuff–but the rhymes are so awkward and some lines are just like bwuh?  I refer you to the ones about vegans being bad liars or something?  What???  And then the alien poetry is in a “language” where the first and last letters are swapped, unless they aren’t, and then they’re “translated” in the back to make ACTUAL sense, because they DON’T (so the rhymes sound good, I guess?).  What a mess.  Brian Biggs’s art would be great here if the text were any good.

I.C. Springman (what a name) writes the minimal but cute More, where a magpie wants ALL THE THINGS but of course that doesn’t quite work.  A subtle message for kids, with bright, gorgeous illustrations by Brian Lies.

Robin, Where Are You? by Harriet Ziefert is a mellow little bird-watching/learning book with a lot of strange things going on with it.  I do enjoy that when you flip the flaps, you get information–so kids will be excited about information rather than big reveals.  However, sometimes terminology is explained and sometimes it isn’t.  If it’s supposed to be contextual…doesn’t quite work for me.  Bright illustrations by Noah Woods.

Daniel D’Auria’s I Wish I Had a Polar Bear is cute with cool photographs, but its message is awkward (and informationless) and there’s a rhyme or two that made me cringe.  Still–polar bears!  And I think kids will like the simple lines.

Um…Moonlight‘s illustrations are gorgeous (thanks to Laura Donzek) but its text is like…moonlight is like butter?  Ooookay.  Maybe that’s me.  This book by Helen V. Griffith is, um…nice?  I guess?  Maybe it’s cuz I’m vegan (and therefore bad at lying.)

I do not know whyPatricia Polacco’s  The Art of Miss Chew is in the fiction section, when it’s obviously a memoir.  Polacco discusses her time as a teen, how she got into art, and the teachers who encouraged and discouraged her along the way.  This one’s for the older kids, but definitely, definitely worth the read.

Board books!

My First Pets Board Book by DK is super-cute and covers everything from types of cats and dogs to textures, colors, and numbers.  Sometimes DK is hit or miss, but this is a total hit.  Also: KITTIES!

I’ve always wondered about DK’s farm books.  It isn’t like there’s a comparable “lawyer” series or anything.  Is it because so many old children’s stories have farms?  Are they marketing to farmer’s children?  Or is it just because kids love machines?  My First Tractor Board Book is very cut and dried (heh).  Lots of new words to learn.  Colors, numbers, and concepts at the end which feel a little bit more squished in than in the other one.

But because they had it, I also got My First Farm Board Book.  It’s sort of a cross between the previous two, actually, with a lot of animals, fruits, veggies, as well as the buildings and machines that make up a farm.  Good overview.

Fabian Savary’s Caillou: Something is Missing is a board book with pull tabs.  I think it’s a reorder and it had just gone out so many times, plus the discovery of the missing things is fun.  But the tabs are new and stiff and I’m pretty sure it’s just going to get destroyed.  I should really learn these things after a year and a half of being a librarian.

I love That’s Not My… Usborne touchy-feely books.  This one is about a frog: That’s Not My Frog…its tummy is too squashy by Fiona Watt.  It’s a bit repetitive but kids who are familiar with the series or just love textures will adore it.

Thank goodness I wasn’t a librarian when I had my kid.  I’d have so many books she’d grow out of in a hot minute.  That’s what libraries are for, but when I like something a lot, I buy it.  I would’ve bought ALL the Usbornes.

I also reordered Ladybug Girl Dresses Up! by David Soman and Jacky Davis.  Love the art in this, but the bumpy cover just invites a lot of hands to try to pull.  In it, Ladybug Girl is in different outfits–Sherlock Holmes is a spy?  So it’s not perfect.  But it’s cute.

Okay, that’s quite enough.  Time to get ready for work.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2013 4:53 pm

    Sorry to make you “cringe”, but happy you enjoyed the photography! As a physician, I’ve spent most of my days reading scientific texts and journals. My books are simply an attempt to get young children interested in reading and wildlife. My greatest interest is the photography. My books have given me a greater reason to continue with that passion. The three polar bear books were my first attempts at children’s literature. I admit that they are not my best work from a literary standpoint. Hopefully, some of my later books will make up for the inexperience I have as a writer. I am particularly pleased with my snow geese book, “It’s Snowing Geese.” Also note that I am not trying to bombard young children with information. I want them to enjoy holding a book in their hands. “I Wish I Had a Polar Bear” was created to introduce the subject of climate change to young children. It isn’t meant to give answers. Hopefully, the children will do that when they grow up.

    • bookslide permalink*
      February 13, 2013 2:19 pm

      I think it’s extremely difficult to write something that looks simple. I think part of my problem with the book is that I felt it could be given fiction or non-fiction classification, and that puts it in a gray area that many books fall into but I’m not crazy about when it comes to children’s books. The book has circulated several times since we got it, so it’s definitely catching children’s and parents’ eyes!

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