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October 23, 2012


Also, the new Goodreads buttons suck.

Easy Readers!

New Elephant & Piggie though!  Let’s Go for a Drive has a twist ending, and now all I can think of is Dan from After Hours saying “Twist!” which is fine because Dan is awesome.  You know how I feel about Mo, so do I even need to say this one is great?

The Big Something by Patricia Reilly Giff is…something.  It’s another ER without a level, first off, and then, it’s about a girl and her dog and her friend and people building a big red something next to them.  I surely did not see it coming, what that red something was, and even when I found out, I was like, “….Oh?”  I guess you can just DO that?  *blink blink*  Need another opinion on this one.

Robin Hill School: Secret Santa is a level one reader by Margaret McNamara with appropriately childlike art by Mike Gordon.  Andrew was mean to Katie.  Katie gets him for the Secret Santa.  Katie doesn’t want to get him a present.  Katie and her teacher magic up a present in the world’s most stocked craft corner.  Everyone is happy.  The end!  Again, Easy Readers often skip things that seem important to me–what changes Katie’s mind?  She says she wants to be “nice,” but is it because she’s got the Christmas spirit?  Because she looks like a total Grinch?  Does it matter?  She’s so little!  Maybe she doesn’t really get that she has motivation, but the readers need to know.  *I* think, anyway.

Monkey Play is an awkwardly-rhymed level one by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, with oddly fuzzy pictures by Ariel Pang.  With another author, and maybe crisper pictures, this would’ve been a great book, with monkeys being silly at a bazaar, but I’m not feeling it at all.

Dixie Wins the Race, a level one reader by Grace Gilman, is the story of a dog who is part-dog and part-person in the way it thinks.  Also, didn’t Dixie used to be chubbier?  Is there a new illustrator?  Was it always Jacqueline Rogers? (I think so.)  Is Dixie getting older?  Will there be a “Dixie Takes One Final Trip to the Vet” book in the future?  Anyway, Dixie’s owner is stupid to leave Dixie out during a relay race where there’s a stick and everything, and hijinx don’t ensue, which is my favorite part of this book.  Still, if you want to know what happens, there are spoilers in the title.  Sigh.

I LOVE Frances.  I LOVE her.  In A Birthday for Frances, it’s really her sister Gloria’s birthday, and Frances is feeling jealous.  Frances acts like a kid in a book and a real kid all at the same time, and I love her for it.  Russell and Lillian Hoban did a great job with this one.

Board Book! (yes, there’s just one)

DK’s Touch and Feel Pets, because apparently I ordered the entire DK catalog.  Pets are, I guess, pretty soft.  And that’s what almost all of these pages are.  There’s a sameness to them, but who cares, because–fuzzy!


Molly, By Golly is the biography of “America’s First Woman Fire Fighter” and I love it.  Dianne Ochiltree does a great job of making you like Molly, and fast, and being proud of her accomplishments, and even creating a sense of tension in her book within, like, two pages.  Way to go.

What Am I? Passover, by Anne Margaret Lewis and well-illustrated by Tom Mills, would, I think, be a little more even if they kept the explanations on one page at the end, rather than having them on select pages, but otherwise it’s a good little lift-the-flap about Passover.

Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team is an AWESOME book by Audrey Vernick.  It’s very matter-of-fact but never dry or boring.  Love love love the art by Steven Salerno too.  I totally teared up.  Go team Jersey!


Ice-Cream Dreams by Nancy Krulik is part of a series on the SpongeBob Squarepants movie that didn’t really tickle me whatevers.  In fact, I remember being really disappointed by it.  It was OKAY, but I was expecting a most excellent Spongebob adventures.  Ice-Cream Dreams doesn’t really get across what’s going on in the movie, especially with the whole “sugar high” thing, but kids won’t care, so I won’t either.

Eye of the Fry Cook: A Story About Getting Glasses is actually SpongeBob at his best. Erica David does a great job of walking kids through the process of getting glasses and ACTUALLY USING THEM, which is the difficult part, even for my kid (now 15) sometimes.  Highly recommended.

Oh, Diego, why are you so much better than Dora?  Is it because you actually get to DO things?  Diego’s Springtime Fiesta is Diego searching for missing baby bunnies.  One is even hiding from a predator, even though they don’t say that, so there’s that.  Lara Bergen wrote this quick read that’s always been popular with Diego fans–hey, and parents can make it through without cringing (DORA) too.

Jangles: A Big Fish Story is by David Shannon, whose kids always look like they’re about to murder you.  Jangles is great until it goes all ~*magical*~ and then Shannon lost me.  Oh well.  Apparently my ability to suspend belief ends with breathing underwater.

Florentine & Pig by Eva Katzler, with cute illustrations by Jess Mikhail and recipes and crafts by Laura and Jess Tilli.  Florentine loves cooking.  Pig loves crafts and adventures.  Together, they decide to go on a picnic.  But there are no apples!  What can they do?  Adventure time!  Kids will like this one, I bet, and I’m all for things with recipes, especially when they don’t talk down to the kids. I mean, tarts?  That’s great!  (And hummus, y’all.)

YOU GUYS, I HAVE A GREAT “SLUTTY” HALLOWEEN COSTUME.  It’s “slutty lure” and the inspiration can be found in Jason Whiteley’s book Tales from the Tacklebox: Escape from the Crooked Tree.  Oh God, WHO IS ORDERING THIS STUFF?!?!?!  Is it because one of our staff members put out a book and now we’re on their mailing list or something?  GET US OFF.  This book is overly wordy and complicated with some SERIOUSLY appalling issues with women.  SEXY FISHING LURE?  GO TO HELL.

Oh, and learn to spell “Seuss,” guys.  When listing your inspirations, you should really get their names right.

Oh thank goodness.  Santa from Cincinnati, by Judi Barrett (the author of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) is HILARIOUS.  I mean, seriously, I was cracking up the whole time.  And Kevin Hawkes creates some seriously old-timey pictures that just…jar and mesh at the same time.  I don’t even know, but I LOVE it!

A Bit of Applause for Mrs. Claus does not get my love, however.  I thought it said “A Bit of Applesauce for Mrs. Claus” and I thought, “Oh, interesting maybe?” but no.  That’s how I felt about all of it: but no.  The art is okay…but no.  The story is okay…but no.  When it takes a committee to write something, you’re not going to end up with anything good, as my husband likes to say.  This book has three authors (and one is named Muffin?), and it tries far too hard and does far too little.

I feel like Sad Santa falls a little short too.  Tad Carpenter, the pictures are cute, but Santa looks a bit like an old-timey hobo.  I think it’s the beard.  The story rushes too much at the end, and I didn’t FEEL it the way I should.  (Dude has worked for Nick Jr and, like, TARGET.  Ohhhh.)  But kids will like this one.

Kim Norman and Jannie Ho’s The Great Christmas Crisis seems a little off somehow.  I mean, like, literally, it’s got all these raised pictures but on two of the pages, they’re not RIGHT.  But I like the story, although it seems a little weird that Santa goes around messing up things that were already messed up and has to do that to figure out that things were…messed up because of stress?  Except everyone’s stressed in the beginning?  I don’t know.  It’s colorful and bumpy and fun, and the rhymes are good.  Maybe that’s all that matters.

Oh, my God.  Have you ever read a book that felt like a giant advertisement?  The Twelve Days of Christmas in Oklahoma by Tammi Sauer fails where the Good Night, (City/State) books succeed.  GOD IT DRAGS.  Again, we have another book where the extra details should have been pushed to the end, but instead you get these letters by some savant little kid who grew up reading billboards and Rick Stevens books.  Sigh.  You know this is one of those books *I* didn’t order.  I got it in a batch of Christmas books they send over from the main branch every year.  If they make a New Jersey one…I don’t know how I’ll feel.  What’s New Jersey like during Christmastime?  Shop-y.

 A Pirate’s Twelve Days of Christmas is super-cute, though!  You know how I feel about pirates, but I have been critical of some of the stories that have come through here, and I think Philip Yates does a great job.  The art by Sebastia Serra is pretty neat too.

Um.  Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons is the kind of book that you wouldn’t think exists now and yet here it is, written by hippies or something, and definitely not a good book (dated, awkward, too repetitive even for a children’s book), but maybe a good song?  Check out the website to find out. I’m not going to.

Again, what the heck?  The Ant and the Grasshopper, by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley, known to me primarily as the people who makes books that are TOO colorful, are all jazz-age and WHATEVER.  Aw yeah cool cats SHUT UP IT’S 2012.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson broke my freakin’ tiny heart, you guys. It’s the story of a new girl in class, and the kids are not good to her.  They don’t want to let her in.  Read this one.  Read it to your older littles.  I’ve gotta suggest this to at least two of my homeschooling parents.  They will love it.  I’m pretty sure I want to read it to my older kids.  Their parents are going to look at me like I’m crazy.  Great art, too, by the way.

Okay, that’s twenty-five.  Enough for a post, but still barely making a dent. Why do I do this to myself?  How can I make it easier for myself for next year?  Gotta think about it.

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