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Second to last one?

March 15, 2013

I’m running low on new books, and I’m done at the library at the end of the month.  This is weird.

But let’s get to it.


Joy Berry’s Help Me Be Good: Being a Bad Sport is a simple book in a simple series that helps kids with character development.  The book’s insides look like they’re repackaged older books, but I have no idea.  (The illustrator’s name is simply “Bartholomew.”  Huh.)  This one focuses on how being a bad sport inevitably leads to people playing with other people, and then shows examples of how to be a good sport even if you feel bad about losing.  Good lessons, all.

Mathstart’s Mighty Maddie is about a girl who has to clean up before her birthday party, so she dons a superhero outfit and figures out what’s light and what’s heavy.  Maddie is cute, the art is cute, it’s a very basic introduction to weight, but it knows it is.  Written by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Bernice Lum.  I like Mathstart.

Brick By Brick is Charles R. Smith Jr’s poem about the building of the White House using slave labor.  It’s moving and the art, by Floyd Cooper, is stunning.  Great for Black History Month.  (Oops.)

A Rock is Lively is another one of those A ___ is ____ non-fiction books from Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long.  As always, I’m not super-crazy about them.  A rock is NOT creative; we’re creative WITH them.  Lots of info, good use of space on the page, but they’re just not my favorite series.

Rachel Isadora’s There Was a Tree is one of those rebus books that I can’t read aloud because I’ll trip over the pictures.  Other than that, it’s a very well-done version of a song I know as “The Green Grass Grew All Around” or something like that.  Isadora’s setting for the song is Africa, and that’s pretty neat, but I could live without the rebus stuff.

Jerry Pinkney’s Puss in Boots is EXCELLENT.  It’s a great retelling of the tale AND the cat is very cat-like for all his human actions.  Check out the picture of him lying in wait for the rabbit.  Hee!  Kitty!  Love the period clothes, love it all.

Kadir Nelson’s book Nelson Mandela is very moving, and the art is stunning.  I would’ve liked a glossary in the back, just for reference, and maybe a map, but that’s just the non-fiction extras-lover in me.  In fact, I don’t think the author’s note at the end really adds much of anything at all.  It’s mostly a retelling of the story for a slightly older audience.  But yeah, those are my only complaints.  Love the colors, the use of space.  Really, gorgeous book, powerful story.

Saving Yasha: The Incredible True Story of an Adopted Moon Bear is a great book for kids.  Unlike the ERs I reviewed…last time?…this book can delve into the process of getting an animal back to the wild.  The end note from the scientist involved, Liya Prokrovskaya, really shows the difference between being a scientist and being anyone else who works with animals, and why the difference is very important.  Loved all the photographs, loved the way the book was written (by Lia Kvatum).

Easy Readers

Lego DC Universe Super Heroes: Ready for Action! is a level one that is basically there to sell you some sets, but like other some Lego books and not others, you feel like you’re getting information as you do it (rather than a bit advertisement).  I maybe wouldn’t have even recognized the pitch as quickly as I did except that I am sadly aware of all the Lego Batman sets (I covet them, but I already learned my lesson with $100, the Black Pearl, and less than two hours of work).  So, good job, Victoria Taylor!

Chicks! is a super-cute level one by Sandra Horning, with not-cutesy (but not bad–just not cartoony/fwuffy) art by Jon Goodell.  It’s the story of chicks being purchased, being cared for, and growing up.  Good story, good use of limited words.

Grace Gilman’s level one Dixie and the Big Bully is interesting.  It targets “mean girl”-talk as the bullying it is.  But I’m so used to it being handled so differently from when boys bully that I thought to myself “BIG bully?  Really?”  Yes, really.  Tue story is good.  But I don’t like Sarah McConnell’s cover. I just think it’s too bleh. 

Disney Princess: Princess Hearts is a cute rhyming story for Valentine’s Day (so why did I get it today?).  Some of the presents the princesses get are hugs, chocolates, etc.  This is better than the last one I read, I think, where it’s all STUFF STUFF STUFF.  This is a level one by Jennifer Liberts Weinberg and illustrated by Francesco Legramandi, who makes Belle look way too classy.


The Muppets: For the Love of Piggy is the Muppet book I’ve been waiting for!  It’s got the old-school humor and whatnot!  Piggy has a secret admirer, and it’s driving Kermie crazy!  With Valentines and a twist ending!  It doesn’t SAY Valentine’s Day though…so, yay!  You can just have a LOVE day anytime you want!

Elly MacKay’s If You Hold a Seed really did nothing for me.  I thought the kid-paper-doll thing looked creepy, and science isn’t magic.

Same thing with Oh So Tiny Bunny by David Kirk.  First off, WHERE IS ITS NECK.  Secondly, there’s a lot of bunny butt in this, and carrot/sperm creations.  Thirdly, eh.  Why does David Kirk always let me down?  Wait, no, that’s Daniel Kirk.  Any relation?  Anyway, nice use of color, at least.

The Berenstain Bears: Trick or Treat is a Stan-and-Jan, but it feels like it’s missing a page, or suspense, or something.  It’s the “the neighbor is a scary witch but really she’s all right” story again, and this one brings little new to the table, but it’s the Berenstain Bears so you know the kids are going to read it.

The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks is a Jan-and-Mike book, and…well, it’s like watching the Lisa Goes Vegetarian episode of the Simpsons without anything that taught a lesson.  I often get down on the Mike books, and Zonderkids in general, and I think this book is a good example of why.  Mama’s advice is basically “Wait and see, even though you’re already nervous,” which is so not like the wise and wonderful advice Mama usually gives.  Sister, after all her stressing about eating turkey, is like OH THANK THE LORD ABOVE, FISH.  Um.  Yeah.  It doesn’t work for me.

If you think it’s a Christian thing, don’t worry: I wasn’t crazy about The Longest Night: A Passover Story either.  Laurel Snyder gives us a poem that starts with two lines that threw me off (WHY was the day like night? because it was early? because the work was hard?) and made it so that I couldn’t settle into the story, which otherwise does fairly well telling the story of the plagues.  And from a cool perspective too: a child slave.   But it didn’t gel for me.  It didn’t flow right.  Catia Chien’s art is good, although I was unimpressed by her parting of the Red Sea.  Again, not really sure why.  It just didn’t inspire awe in me like it should, I suppose?  So, I’m an equal opportunity meh-er.

Froggy’s World Playdate is–gasp!–probably the least irritating Froggy story IN THE WORLD, and it’s not sexist.  Froggy doesn’t seem to be making a fuss about hanging out with a girl (despite what the Goodreads description says); he just doesn’t like Frogilina.  Even I know that.  Except then he gets dressed up and then sends her little-kid mixed signals.  However, the parents still yell at the kid from across the house, and make me feel horrible ever time I yell at my kid from across the house (although I say “Fishie” not “Froggy”), because it’s IRRITATING.  My husband is right.

Eileen Spinelli’s When No One is Watching is about a girl who is the bravest, most talented, exciting kid–when there’s no one else around.  When she’s in a crowd–whether family or relatives–she’s shy as can be.  This book is sorta rhyme-y, sorta poem-y, in a way that doesn’t really bother me (when usually that kind of thing does).  I believe this has something to do with David A. Johnson’s wonderful art. I LOVE this little girl.  Her hair is awesome, her shoelaces are awesome, her kitty is awesome, everything is awesome. Yes indeedy.

Debi Gliori is an author I’ve said “meh” about in the past, and I’m saying it again.  The Tobermory Cat is just not a book I fell in love with.  There are some clever things, but…eh.  They’re in a sea of meh.  AND I LOVE CATS.  THIS SHOULD’VE BEEN A NO-BRAINER.

Next up: I GOT A NEW SHIPMENT IN. OF COURSE I DID.  I was hoping to duck out of here between orders, but no such luck.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rim permalink
    March 16, 2013 7:45 pm

    Tobermory Cat was started in the spring of 2011. It used facebook as a means of promoting a book called “Tobermory Cat: famous for being famous” – not to be confused with the later work by Debi Gliori called “ The Tobermory Cat”. Check out the original Tobermory Cat facebook page here: or on it’s web site here

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