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Always more children’s books

November 14, 2012


Harlem’s Little Blackbird is the affecting story of Florence Mills, a singer and dancer during the Harlem Renaissance.  My only complaint is that author Renee Watson chooses sentence fragments over the use of colons, but I’m a colon and semi-colon freak, so that could just be me.  It certainly lends a storytelling feel to the book, but it could be argued either way, really.  Christian Robinson’s art is wonderful: colorful and childlike while still conveying a sense of importance needed to parallel the depths of the text.  I really like this one and I may read it to the older kids during Black History Month.

Noah Webster & His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris is about one of my favorite topics: Noah Webster!  (I ❤ Noah Webster, Beau Brummell, and other random people that others are like “Really?” about all the time.)  It’s actually straight-up great, informative and interesting and even has definitions for the big words!  I went in a fan and came out a fan, and Vincent X. Kirsch’s art is great–check out the way Noah and his dad are looking at each other on the third page.  That’s awesome.  You can see everything that’s going on between them in those expressions.  There’s an old-timey political cartoon feeling underlying the art too, in my humble (and art-ignorant) opinion, that really adds to the tone of the book.

Easy Readers!

Level Ones:

I always love when Dora books don’t annoy me.  Lara Bergen’s So Many Butterflies doesn’t annoy me.  It follows the show in that there’s an attempted swiping and a need for Backpack, but otherwise, it’s not completely in that mold.  I wish they’d always do this, but I can see why they don’t.  Kids must love the show format and want it in the books, but I certainly do not.  So if your kid complains–well, you were warned.

Robin Hill School: Butterfly Garden by Margaret McNamara is another eh book in the series.  There are some good elements (“Is it a superhero?”) and less-good ones (“They are working hard.” DOING WHAT?), and Mike Gordon’s art doesn’t bother me as much this time, but ultimately, a non-fiction book would do better than this one does, and who are these kids who think they’re so cool that they’re better to learn from than a non-fiction book?  Your teacher is no Mrs. Frizzle, guys.

Cooking with the Cat is a Seusslike but not really Seussian book, because it’s sooo simplistic and soooo unimaginative.  Also, why have ONE non-rhyming line in the whole thing?  For reals.  But kids will like it because they like the Cat in the Hat, you know? By Bonnie Worth and illustrated by Christopher Moroney.

Level Twos:

Marley: Firehouse Dog is another story about being rewarded for being bad.  But at least Marley has to help with the clean-up (which in this case is eating the food he knocked onto the floor–SOME PUNISHMENT).  Text by Caitlin Birch–well, you do what you can.  Also, what year is this supposed to be? Sometime between 1956 and 1989, it looks like from their clothes and hair.

If you could tell me how Barbie: The Princess and the Pop Star’s Star Power and Best Friends Rock are different books, I’d be interested to know, because I’m pretty sure they’re exactly the same.  I’m not even going to bother to hunt down Best Friends Rock to prove it.  Guess who will like this one?  Freakin’ Mary Man-Kong.  I probably shouldn’t blame here but I’m going to anyway.  I basically cringe now every time I see her name.

Disney continues to brainwash your children in Disney Princess: The Perfect Dress by Melissa Lagonegro.  Awkward, awkward rhyme scheme, among its other crimes.

I’m gonna skip on The Barbie Fairytale Collection because I cannot justify reading 130-something pages of Barbie to tell you what I already know: Barbie books generally suck because the easy readers rarely try to get across a story and worry more about showing Barbie choosing pretty things to wear and/or buying things and/or being and/or becoming bffs with girls who look exactly the same as her but with a different color palate and hairstyle. I also love how the author or authors’ names are scrubbed from this combo-pack.  Let’s assume Mary Man-Kong and move on.  For reference, the book includes Barbie in A Mermaid Tale, Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale, Barbie and the Three Musketeers (her dress is too pink and blinged up to pique my interest enough to check it out), Barbie & The Diamond Castle, and Barbie: Thumbelina.


A Hole is to Dig is a book I do not get.  But it went out, probably because of The Carrot Seed (by the same author, Ruth Krauss) and Where the Wild Things Are (by the same illustrator, Maurice “Pierre!” Sendak).  I would probably love it if it were linear; I definitely laughed a little, but mostly I was puzzled.  It says “A first book of first definitions” but they didn’t feel like definitions; they felt like Yoda-isms.

ABCers by Carole Lexa Schaefer brings action to the alphabet, and Pierr Morgan’s art gives the book a bit of an old-fashioned feeling that lends to the close-knit urban environment in which the alphabet book takes place.  In this, K is “kitten petters” (indeed) and W is for “water splashers” and other sorts of wonderful movement-oriented acts.  Even the restful moments (L) are about comfortable friendship.  Love it.

Okay, outta time.  Next up: a heck of a lot more fiction.

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