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Wodney Wat Would Appwove – More children’s book reviews

August 27, 2012

Non-fiction!

Create With Maisy: A Maisy First Arts-and-Crafts Book by Lucy Cousins is probably my favorite “beginner” books for arts and craft that I’ve seen so far.  Everything is simple and fun and colorful like Maisy.  Highly recommended.

DK’s First Facts: Seasons by Marie Greenwood is a busy, colorful look at the seasons as only DK can.  There’s a lot going on here, and you can stop at each page and look at the bits and pieces of each named flower, bird, vegetable, animal, etc.

Life Cycles: Mountain and Desert by Sean Callery are informative works that cover three food chains from each ecosystem.  The book may start with a plant, or an insect, and then make its way up to a large predator.  There’s some weird stuff going on in desert that I think could be minor editing errors, but I didn’t see the same in mountain.  Definitely on the higher range of my young readers, but definitely recommended for those kids who are really into learning the details of how things grow.  Lots of stuff about mating, so make sure your child has that information ahead of time.

Shakespeare’s Seasons by Miriam Weiner presents bits and pieces of the Bard’s work, sometimes within understanding, sometimes not, with gorgeous collage work by Shannon Whitt.  According to the note at the end, kids are, like, supposed to let the stuff they don’t get wash over them or something.  Okay.  Or you could’ve stuck with the simpler ones.  Or you could’ve included a glossary.

I’m not sure how I feel about Wumbers by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld.  I love puns and wordplay and E-Mergency and all!  Buuuut this seems too close to home in this time of txting, u no?  It’s for good readers only, I’d think, and even then I’d be wanting to have a Big Talk about the Appropriateness of Using Numbers In Words.  *sigh*

Dreams Around the World by Takashi Owaki is a simple book, with crisp photographs of children and a brief description of the child and his or her goals.  There’s nothing special about it, really, and yet I feel a strong pull to recommend it, if only for the strength of its diversity.

Okay, so Marie Greenwood has this book called Amazing Pop-Up Human Body but only one thing pops up, right on the opening page, and THAT’S IT.  I feel cheated.  I don’t even want to read the rest of it now.  It’s probably factually accurate and tasteful (I did read the pages on how babies are made and how they grow) BUT STILL.  CHEATED.

Oh God, what is this, the crappy section?  If It’s to Be, It’s Up to Me! by Sally Snyder reads like it’s written in the 1960s, but it’s from the 2Ks.  The cheesy name alone was enough to put me off, but my God, the awkward rhyming, the bizarreness of it.

Sounds of the Wild: Forest by Maurice Pledger has pop-ups AND animal sounds, but it’s awfully wordy for a kids’ book so I’m kinda wondering what’s going on here.  You’ve got your simple pages and then the description pages, so definitely for older readers–but will they want the pop-ups?  I know they’ll drive me crazy with the sounds…

ABC Doctor by Harriet Ziefert (with collage-y illustrations by Liz Murphy) helps kids prepare for the doctor’s, but there are a couple of times I was like “Um…that doesn’t really tell you what you need to know.”  U is for Urine Sample, but it doesn’t tell you what urine is.  Sometimes we have to be explicit with kids.  I forgot to tell my daughter HOW to collect her first urine sample and…uh…well, she’ll kill me if I tell you what happened but it was funny bad.

Easy Readers

Fly, Dumbo, Fly! by Jennifer Weinberg is a level-one reader with very basic words, which still manage to tell the story (well, with the pictures) better than most ERs.  Or maybe that’s because I know how it goes?  Kids will like sounding this out because they can attach it to a movie.

Cookies: A Mr and Mrs Green Adventure by Keith Baker is super cute and a little math-y but mostly cookie-y.  Nom!  Now I want cookies.  OHHH, it’s Keith Baker.  No wonder I like it.  We also got Camping, also about Mr and Mrs Green.  Also good.  Both level 2s but the cookie one seems easier.

Puppy Mudge Has a Snack by Cynthia Rylant is cute way to teach kids to ask for things, uh, cutely?  Okay, it isn’t NICELY but it’s still better than whining.  Aww, Mudge.

Wacky Wednesday is a Dr Seuss book I was previously unfamiliar with.  Now I am, and can totally see why kids will absolutely, positively love it.

If I Ran the Horse Show is not about what you’d do if you ran the horse show.  It’s about horses, in sometimes-awkward rhymes (which I haaaate with non-fiction books).  This Cat in the Hat book, by Bonnie Worth with illustrations by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu (really? the book needed two people?  could one not draw horses?) will draw kids in with the Cat in the Hat but it’s always weird to read facts by a creature that lives in the same universe as the Grinch.

Picture books!

A Day Without Sugar (Un dia sin azucar) is a bilingual book by Diane de Anda about a Latin@ family dealing with diabetes.  Afraid that it could run in the family, the kids spend a day looking for “hidden sugar” in all the things they eat, and replacing them with equally yummy but sugar-free or naturally sweetened treats, like fruit.  It’s a little preachy, of course, but not obnoxiously so, and it’s balanced by the strength of the message.  I’m not super-crazy about Janet Montecalvo’s art, but I have to say that I think the kids will be so into the idea of finding “hidden sugar” that it won’t matter.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a classic by Michael Rosen with great art by Helen Oxenbury.  Do NOT let Michael Rosen read this book to you–he kinda creeps me out.  But it’s best as an action-story than just read aloud.  There’s so much do with the family as they hunt a bear.  The kids always love this one at story time, and the older ones can recite and act it out without the book, so someone at the local elementary school has it down pat.

Piggins by Jane Yolen is a book that I think will only be truly liked by the children who watch Downton Abbey with their families.  (That’s a joke.  I’ve never seen Downton Abbey.  Yet.)  It’s an Upstairs/Downstairs period piece mystery, with interesting if not quite enjoyable illustrations by Jane Dyer.  The Richard Scarry mystery at least had awesome cake.

We Keep a Pig in the Parlor by Suzanne Bloom is the story of a pig who doesn’t fit in farm life, told in rhymes I’d need to memorize before reading to the kids because it isn’t only abab, or abccb, but a combo of that and more.  The pig’s expressions are adorable but otherwise I wasn’t loving on the art.  You know how I feel about crisp pictures, especially with funny books.

The Stupids Die by Harry Allard with art by James Marshall is, of course, hilarious.  The Stupids were quite the thing when we were little.  Like Wacky Wednesday, it’s more about picking out what’s wrong than anything else, but we’ll see if the word “stupid” sets off the parents.

Halloween Forest by Marion Dane Bauer with Le-Petit-Prince-Meets- Tim-Burton illustrations by John Shelley is…really kinda creepy and morbid for a kids’ book.  But it doesn’t have the joy or the fun of, like, that Eve Bunting one.  I dunno.  It was a bit much.  Or it wasn’t.  I have no clue.  I’m certainly not testing it out on the kids.

Johnny the Clockmaker by Edward Ardizzone is a story from 1960 about a boy who wants to make a grandfather clock but no one believed in him.  The issue of child labor laws aside, it is a dated but nice book about not letting other people let you down, and using all the resources you can, and nice girls who are the granddaughters of the author.

I don’t get Jan Brett.  There are some weird perspective things going on in her The Wild Christmas Reindeer—are these little elves or people-sized elves making HUGE toys?  The fact that the lead elf looks people-sized with the reindeer really throws me off.  And everything sudden becomes TOTALLY OKAY.  Nah.

Bear in Love by Daniel Parkwater is…not about a bear falling in love, so much about a bear who keeps finding things that he supposes immediately are left for him.  I guess they ARE but *I* wouldn’t have guessed that for a while.  Anywhoodle, if you can’t tell, I didn’t love it, but Will Hillenbrand’s illustrations are cute.  The constantly-pink-cheeked bear–is that to up the cuteness factor?

Brownie & Pearl Make Good is a great little story about how a girl and her cat make a mistake and then “make good.”  Other stories might be about “doling out punishment,” but Brownie & Pearl have a good time “making good” and then all is forgiven.  AS IT SHOULD BE.

Man, why is Eileen Spinelli so hit or miss for me?  Together at Christmas has the kind of all-over-the-place rhyme scheme and lack of sense that makes me not like the book.  The only saving grace is Bin Lee’s ADORABIBBLE illustrations.  MIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE.  (I actually am near-phobic about mice in real life.  So these ones must be doing something right.)

Board books!

Doggies by Sandra Boynton is the first of many Boynton books I ordered.  How did we have, like, almost none?  This book is simple and cute and is probably super-fun to read aloud.  That’s all I ask from a board book.

Oh, is that the only board book I have right now?  Works for me!

One more post before I go on vacation, I think.  WOOOHOOOO!

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