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Dinosaur vs librarian — ANYONE BUT ME WINS

November 2, 2012

Well, when Dinosaur does ANYTHING, he wins.  But mostly I’m just in a bad mood.

Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs Santa is our/the newest one – AWWWWW DINOSAUR.  They give you a sheet of dinosaur Christmas stationery for a letter to Santa, but the glue that keeps it affixed to the book gives it a greasy stain.  So um.  Just so you know.  I just threw ours out, as I do with stuff that can’t be given to more than one kid.  Dinosaur doesn’t fight Santa or anything, because he’s Dinosaur!  Can he win the fight against eating the cookies?  He’s Dinosaur!

I’m going to separate them by type in a second, but first I want to talk about the difference between Clifford’s First Halloween, by Norman Bridwell (the dude who created Clifford) and Clifford’s Puppy Days: Christmas Angel by Quinlan B. Lee (NOT Norman Bridwell).  Clifford’s First Halloween has Emily Elizabeth in an apartment, looking a bit plump and adorable, and generally having a great time.  Christmas Angel, on the other hand, seems to be obsessed with introducing television characters, and generally making no sense.  Emily Elizabeth is streamlined and girlier, of course.  Clifford knows what Christmas is, but not what it’s about?  Hello, ONE LINE could’ve fixed that.  Bad writing.  Bad, lazy writing.

Okay, categories.

Fiction!

The Reader by Amy Hest is a great snowy-day story, about a little boy and his dog out during a cold winter day.  I pretty much loved it and am trying to decide who to read it to, because of its super-mellow tone.  Love the illustrations by Lauren Castillo, too.

Erica Pass’s Vote for Spongebob is a cute one that seems to not be based off of a specific episode, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.  (Usually, it will tell you the episode name on the title page or whatever.)  Spongebob gets so wrapped up in Mr. Krabs’s latest moneymaking scheme that he forgets what’s supposed to come first: his job.  Not the strongest moral, but a fun Spongebob adventure.

Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann’s Oh, No! feels like half-song, half-text, which I found a little awkward, but I think kids will love this one, about falling into the same hole as the creature you’re trying to help and then getting a bit of revenge on the creature that tried to eat you.  I guess.

Santa on the Loose by Brace Hale with Waldo-like illustrations by Dave Garbot is pretty fun, if a bit–long?  You have your suspects, and then you go page by page to find the objects and figure out who did it.  However, on several pages, you’re just finding things that all your suspects have.  Will this build suspense or annoy your child?  I’m not really sure.  But I like the I-spy approach being more of a mystery that the kids have to put together.  It’s not the cleverest mystery, but this is for the little ones.  It’s less serious deduction and more matching, which–okay.

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead is great.  It’s great, it’s great, it’s great, and Erin E. Stead’s illustrations make me want to hug this bear forever.  Bear is so sweet and kind and I love it.  We need more mellow happy wonderful books like this.  If the kids do their hibernation project again and are out of non-fiction books, I’m totally recommending this over Bear Snores On, or whatever it’s called.

Beach Feet is a cute one by Kiyomi Konagaya with swooshy, wave-like (rather than wavy–you’ll see what I mean) by Masamitsu Saito.  The text is simple and I have to say, refreshingly warm and sunny after all these winter books.  The colors are gorgeous.  I’m not sure I’m 100% in love with the art, but I know many others will be.  I’m like 85% in love with the art.  There are times when it’s more effective than others.  You know how I feel about crisp, and this is the opposite of that–BUT! it does it so well, how can I complain?

No Go Sleep! by Kate and Julies Feiffer is a GREAT bedtime story.  It’s all about a baby who won’t go to sleep and shortcuts for parents that whole list of “here are things that are sleeping/it’s okay, the night’s not scary because–” that some parents have to do.  I think it’s a little young for my evening story time, and I don’t dare do a sleepy book with the toddlers (toddlers can shame you with a look) but as a one-on-one?  Wonderful.

Homer by Elisha Cooper may be not hitting the mark for me because I’m a cat person.  There’s a dog on a porch and he goes nowhere and does nothing, but it’s cool because he has, you know, “you.”  Except he never does much interaction with the “you” in the book.  So…um…?  Maybe it’s a dog thing.

The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg is a creepyish, fairy tale-like, kinda old-fashioned but in a good way story about a witch’s broom that can no longer fly.  The witch leaves it at the widow’s farm where they crashed, and the broom becomes a help to the lady in her declining years.  But hey, it’s got magic, so it’s of the devil, right?  This story would be great for a Halloween story time with older kids.  I may do that next year.

If All the Animals Came Inside is a great rhyming story by Eric Pinder, with super-fun art by Arthur’s Marc Brown.  The rhymes are good, the story’s fantastic, and shows why maybe we shouldn’t keep wild animals as pets.  Definitely going to do this with my 3-5s, because it does feel a bit long for the toddlers, who like a lot of stories but they like ’em short.

Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault’s Virginia Wolf continues our trend of bringing in books from other countries (Canada and France, mainly, with this one being from the former).  It’s about Virginia and her sister (yes, THAT Virginia, sort of) and how Virginia wakes up moody and how her sister Vanessa helps to cheer her up.  The power of imagination can bring us up or down, and the power of sisterhood is strong–or it can be.  The book doesn’t work hard to get these concepts across, but adults will get them, and kids will like the idea of a girl who feels like a wolf and an artist who helps people feel better.

Non-fiction!

Staying Safe Around Strangers by Lucia Raatma pretty much could’ve been taken word for word from our Stranger Danger program the other day, or the other way around, so um, it felt like a retread for me.  But it’s solid info, with crisp clear photographs.
Easy Readers!

Young Cam Jansen and the Magic Bird Mystery is pretty annoying.  Cam is annoying.  Teddy is annoying.  Aunt Molly is REALLY annoying, and she is either silly in a way I’m not good with or actually making jokes that I don’t think kids will get that well without intonation.  (I personally do well with intonation, which is one of the reasons I try to do a read-through of my storytime books ahead of time if I can, to figure out the best way to tell the jokes.)  I’m over formulaic series.  I don’t need to hear about how Cam is a perfect size six has a wonderful memory like a camera etc etc.  Although, it’s not much of a mystery.

A Friend for Noodles by Hans Wilhelm is a rebus book, which I guess are supposed to give kids a nice break from actually learning how to read by replacing words with pictures.  The story is cute, and I didn’t trip over the pictures, but I prefer the ones with the words underneath, like in the Dora rebus books.  At least then they’re still learning.

Oh, trying to turn a movie into an Easy Reader.  Many have tried; most have failed.  As with Thomas & Friends: Blue Mountain Mystery: The Movie: Secret of the Green Engine.  (I did that on purpose.)  It’s awkward and weird.  And if the trains are like people, dude, kinda wrong.  Also, Thomas “peeps”?  That’s…something.  I don’t remember him sounding peep-y in the show.

Uh…Jewels for a Princess by Ruth Homberg is an awful book.  Awwwwful.  It’s like “PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU GIVE YOU JEWELRY AND THEN YOU CAN TREAT IT WELL OR LET MICE PLACE WITH IT, WHATEVS.”  No no no no no.  But girls who love Disney princess will flock to it and twenty years down the road have their weddings in Florida.

NOW, LOOK HERE, DISNEY.  The Perfect Pumpkin Hunt by Gail Herman has that same “but it’s really your FRIENDS who matter” vibe of the last book, but this one doesn’t feel fake and hide behind jewels.  “SHINY THINGS–but my FRIENDS are what really matters!”  AND it doesn’t have a “and my husband, too!” thing going on either.  One of the Disney fairies has been assigned the task of finding the perfect pumpkin for the Fall Ball but gets so wrapped up in helping her friends that once she gets there, she doesn’t have time to figure out a way to get it where it needs to be, being that it’s so big.  But because she helped her friends, they are more than willing to help her.  Excellent moral, and not shoved at the kids.

Nice place to wrap it up.  Happy NaBlo, y’all.  Not every post will be this big. 🙂

 

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