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Guess what I’m doing today?

November 16, 2012

Oh yes, reviewing new (to the library) children’s books.  Like every day.

Easy Readers!

The Very Fairy Princess: A Fairy Merry Christmas is a level one Easy Reader by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton, with art by Christine Davenier, who I can’t remember–yup, that’s the artist in the picture books too.  Which is weird because I don’t remember the art looking like this, but okay.  Anyway, the Very Fairy Princess Gerry picks out presents for her family.  They’re very good presents, generally, but one of them confuses me.  Focusing on hand-made presents makes for a good message for kids.

We’re anti-presents this year because we downgraded from a two-story house to a two-bedro0om apartment while my husband’s away, so sticking with the spirit of giving rather than the spirit of spending is a-okay with me.

The Big Halloween Scare is a Spongebob Squarepants book by Steven Banks. Spongebob is easily scared (like my friend Carrie, heheheh) and wants only to scare his friends and not be the butt of their jokes this Halloween.  The end is–um, graphic? so be warned.

Everything else is picture books today!

Cowboy Christmas by Rob Sanders is a good idea of a book but the execution isn’t what I was hoping for.  Cowboys work hard all-year around, I get that, but then…well, you’ll see if you read it.  And if you skip it, well, I wouldn’t, but only if your little people like cowboys and Santa.  I enjoyed John Manders’s illustrations though.

Mac’s Christmas Star is a Scottish book (ready to explain “Mum” and that Catriona is a perfectly cromulent name?) by Margaret Forrester with okay art by Sandra Klaassen.  It didn’t charm me either.  It’s like a couple of books in one: the story of Mac, except it’s really the story of Catriona, and of looking at your presents too soon, and it even has a counting aspect, and is also about a cat who thinks but doesn’t really think enough, and…too much, even though it doesn’t have that bloated feeling.  It just doesn’t gel.

Barbie Loves Ballet has the crappiest art I’ve ever seen in a Barbie book.  It’s like they wanted to make everyone ugly but Barbie, or maybe keep the weird proportions of the Kelly doll?  Also, where are their damn parents?  It’s a lie, Kelly!  Barbie’s your real mom!  But the story by Angela Roberts is solid, if sort of wishy-washy.  Kelly practices until her routine becomes second nature and then performs flawlessly, BECAUSE SHE PRACTICED.  Good for Kelly.  It’s pretty much the only good thing about this book.  Because the art just ruins it.  Barbie only looks like Barbie half the time.  Sigh.  Bad Karen Wolcott.  Bad bad bad.  Especially bad considering the general uniformity of the Barbie books.  If it had been, oh, I dunno, dynamic, no, she didn’t have to look the same, but flatter art I have rarely seen in a children’s book.  Oh, and there is a glossary at the end but I’m not sure every word is used in the story.  Eh.

Who Built the Stable? A Nativity Poem by Ashley Bryan made me feel…bleh.  The art is neat–sort of folky and colorful but also with the sense that you’re looking at stained glass.  But the poem?  Bleh.  It doesn’t scan well, it imagines a boy who built the stable that housed the baby Jesus, which is like, okay, but…no.  It does not work for me at all.

Hands Off My Toy! is a (renamed from Hands Off) Spongebob Squarepants 8×8 by David Lewman which makes Patrick verbally clumsy as well as dumb.  (Is he usually like that?  I didn’t think so.)  It’s the story of how Spongebob gets a collectable toy and he’s terrified of Patrick breaking it when he borrows it.  Then Patrick flips out but doesn’t break it, and somehow this makes Spongebob think it’s time to play with it?  What is that, like inevitability?  I dunno.  I feel like I missed a page.

Blue’s Clues sure has changed since my day.  Not for nothin’, but Steve kicks over Joe every day of the week.  Also, now Blue talks.  In Blue’s Big Parade!, Blue and her friends put together…a parade.  Yup.  This story, by Justin Spelvin and illustrated by Ian Chernichaw, is my last attempt to keep Blue around.  Although…Joe, so who cares?  (I love you, Steve!  We have the same birthday!  We’re pretty much the same height!  I know this from going to see your concert!  You are a great musician!  We should date!)  Anyway, this is a good way to learn how to make a legit parade using only the stuff at your house.

OKAY FINE.  Joe is super-cute in Blue’s Checkup by Sarah Albee.  (Sarah Albee–it’s been a while!)  He’s sooo expressive compared to Steve.  Also, he really does look like my ex-boyfriend’s little brother.  That was hilarious when we first noticed it.  Anyway, great book for getting rid of doctor’s visit anxiety.

Oh my God, remember when I liked that one Dora book?  Not the episode ones!  Dora Saves Mermaid Kingdom! makes me want to hit things.  YOU GET ONE WISH AND IT’S TO…DO SOMETHING YOU COULD’VE DONE WITHOUT A WISH???  I hate you, Dora.  Don’t blame author Michael Teitelbaum.  He’s working off of a script by Valerie Walsh.  BLAME HER.

The Art Contest (No Cheating Allowed!) is another Spongebob book by Steven Banks.  I like this one.  It feels very Spongebob-y.  Spongebob is a great artist.  Squidward is not.  Squidward wants to win an art contest that will allow him into a tony art club.  What to do?  Cheat?  LE GASP.  Not a good moral book, but a fun one.


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