September in Books: Still catching up
So this tag thing seems to be a browser issue, so as long as I’m on the right browser, everything should be okay. On to the books!
I got a ton of Joy Berry board books in, because I’ve read her older stuff for kids on manners and things and thought, hey, board books. But I didn’t find that they were as strong. Berry seems to miss the point of gearing toward younger children. In most of the books, she’s far too repetitious even for toddler reads. (I Love Grandmas and Grandpas was so awkward to read that I almost gave up.) However, there are some that would be great for anxious children or ones who are so literal that they need step-by-step instructions, like I Love Getting Dressed. I liked that I Love Brothers and Sisters doesn’t differentiate between the older and the younger siblings–everyone should be treated well. But most of them are not books I’d suggest anyone buy. Having them at the library is enough.
Frans Lanting’s Pop-Up Creatures: Eye to Eye is called a board book, but it’s really a lift-the-flat book. I’m kind of reluctant to keep it with the board books, because it’s not that sturdy and it will be torn to bits, but such is life. Also, it should be non-fiction. I’m just saying. But I have no control over how the books are cataloged. I like this one. It’s not an easily-guessed flap-lift book, and has some interesting animals in it. More details at the end, like every non-fiction book. Sigh.
Susan Jeffers does a version of The Nutcracker that is just…I guess I see why Amy Ehlich writes some of these things, because Jeffers tells the story but I wouldn’t say it’s very good at being *A* story. The art is nice, of course, and I do love the ballet themes throughout.
We also got The Wild Swans, which is Ehrlich, and I’ve gotta say, Hans Christian Andersen is hella trippy. I don’t even know that I can fault her working with a text like this. But then again, we change fairy tales in little ways all the time. She couldn’t have made it, I dunno, less weird? More narrative?
Ten Creepy Monsters by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis is a good one for dark and creepy little ones. Maybe a bit much for VERY little ones–the vampire (spoiler alert!) turns into a pile of ash! But yeah, I liked it, and the art.
Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas by Melanie Watt is a book only for the oldest of my kids, and I really am not even sure it belongs in my section. I don’t GET Scaredy–maybe I need to read another of the books? Maybe in a story he’s less oddly neurotic (maybe it’s because he’s Canadian?) and more endearing.
Santa, a man running a multi-national non-profit, tends to forgetfulness in Linda Bleck’s Santa’s Hat. But, like, spoiler, did the elves steal his hat? I’m really confused! They seem to be laughing mockingly at him toward the end there.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: A Chipmunk Christmas may have buttons that make loud noises, but I’m okay with that, because I really like the story by Ross Bagdasarian and Janice Karman. And it’s nice to see the Chipmunks drawn again! But I sure am going to get sick of those sounds.
La Luna is probably ruining a Pixar short for me, but it’s so charming, I’m okay with that. It really is the Pixar picture book of a short by Enrico Casarosa. It’s so adorable, like an Italian Petit Prince. I hope it goes out a lot. We have a ton of Disney books based on the animated stories, and some Pixar stories as well, but it never occurred to me that they’d do the shorts. They should do more of the shorts! Like the cloud one!
I feel like I already reviewed Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds but I can’t find it anywhere. It’s about a girl who is an Artist–perhaps an Artiste or an ARTISTE–who finds a challenge: she wants to paint the sky in the school mural but there is no blue paint! What to do? I’m reading this one to the 1-3 graders and painting with them, most likely. Ughhh, paint. But you gotta do it sometime.
The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell is ADORBS and I love it. Little monsters create a super-monster…and then they wait and wait for something awesomely monstrous to happen. I’m not even going to ruin it for you because I want you to read it so much.
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds is really creepy! Jasper the Rabbit likes eating carrots from this one field except…are they starting to FOLLOW him? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH CREEPY CARROTS EVERYWHERE??!?!?! OR ARE THEY?!?!?! Good scary one for little guys. I was totally creeped out.
Gerald McBoing Boing is a Dr. Seuss that I do not remember, and it’s adapted from a screenplay or something? But we don’t have it–except there’s maybe a new show or something? Off to Wikipedia! Okay, looks like the show was in 2005. Anyway, Gerald can only speak in sound effects. Great way to introduce children to onomatopoeia.
I am already prejudiced against Jonathan London because of those godawful Froggy books. But I thought I’d give Little Hippo a try. We got Here Comes Doctor Hippo, and it’s okay. I’m not super-crazy about Gilles Eduar’s illustrations. I thought I’d like them from the cover but they’re flatter and less cute inside. Ah well. Little Hippo pretends to be a doctor and has some terrible adventures, but then Mama Hippo makes everything better. The end.
Larf! Larf is adorable! Larf is cuddly (except for the not-bathing thing)! I want to take Larf home and make him ratatouille! You should read Larf, by Ashley Spires, about the only sasquach in the world–OR IS HE???
(What time is it?) It’s Duffy Time! is a fairly mellow book, mostly about napping. Duffy is a good doggy with a very busy day. Audrey and Don Wood manage not to creep me out (PIGGIES!!!) and instead actually charm me. Yay.
Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy is the new Jan Thomas, and I like it just as much as almost all the other Jan Thomases I’ve read before. Totally doing this one with my evening story time group. (Maybe do Duffy too. And Larf for the older kids. See why I read all these?)
I really hope that there’s not a real Mary Man-Kong writing these Barbie books, and instead there’s actually a bunch of new writers who all have to do these insipid books as some sort of initiation. In I Can Be…A Rock Star, Barbie learns that if everyone bans together, one person can be a rock star. Which would be a good lesson, except that it’s all sparkly pink “hard work” and “here! now you’re a rock star!” Oh, okay, is it that easy? I never heard that it was. In fact, I watched my own father try to be a rock star for years and years and years, three decades, really. It’s blood, sweat, and tears, not pink, frilly, and autotuned. Or maybe that’s why he never succeeded?
Mr. Putter & Tabby Dance the Dance by Cynthia Rylant is another winner from the author of the Brownie & Pearl books. Boy, she really does love to match up a person and an animal, doesn’t she? Brownie & Pearl, Henry & Mudge, Annie & Snowball, and Mr. Putter and his kitty Tabby. In this one, Mr. Putter’s neighbor suggests they go ballroom dancing and everyone has a great, including the reluctant Mr. Putter. Arthur Howard’s art is just right.
Monkeys is a “pre-level 1″ by DK, which is like…oh, okay? I don’t get it. You put “fur” in the glossary but don’t even give a pronunciation guide for the different types of monkeys? I mean, *I* can’t even pronounce half of these things. DK, yer bother me. Sometimes. You’re so inconsistent.
SEE, DK? Meet the Dinosaurs, another pre-level 1, has the pronunciation for the dinos. Why not the monkeys? And it points to the parts it’s talking about, not other ones too. COME ON. Oh, except one time it says “brain” and points and labels “head.” Makes sense to me. Sorta.
Dora the Explorer: Eggs for Everyone! is a level-one reader by Laura Driscoll does not SAY Easter, but it doesn’t not say Easter either. They’re decorating eggs. I’ve read this book like three times because it always gets torn to shreds, but the kids love it and I couldn’t get it in hardback. I’ve probably reviewed it three times too, but here we go again: It’s cute, it’s guessy, but I hate the rebus thing. At least this one has the words under the pictures and not just the pictures. That drives me batty.
We also got Surprise Puppy! by Judith Walker-Hodge. It’s the story of the most well-dressed family in the world getting a lender of a puppy. But can you guess the surprise? I bet you can. The puppy is for the insanely well-behaved, well-dressed children! Yay! This is also a level-one reader, but it feels very wordy. Props for saying “pee” though.
The next book is…sigh…Lego Friends. Yeah, those things that are like “Girls can do anything–as long as it’s pink and stereotypical!” Let’s see how empowering the book, a level three called Friends Forever (SIGH) is. Well. Um, let’s see. It’s kind of like ass-backward empowerment. There’s a lot of stereotyping that’s got a fakey “balance” to it, like being really into party planning…and horses! None of them seem to read. Huh. She likes the color pink–AND SCIENCE! Color me unimpressed, sorry. The whole thing is ridiculous. Props to Lego and, I suppose, author Helen Murray for trying to create this big world, and really, it does it better than a lot of the other Lego books, but…
Jean Marzollo’s Help Me Learn Subtraction is as good as her Help Me Learn Addition. Math, fun? But of course!
Okay, I’m combo-packing this thing all over the place, so I’ve gotta stop. Next up: more books, and maybe I’ll finish that recap I meant to do back in January or whatever.