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Last one, perhaps! Children’s book reviews

March 25, 2013

This may not be true. There may be enough coming in over the next two weeks that I’ll do one more post. I’ve got a lot to do before I go, though, so it’s a tough call. I guess we’ll just go with “perhaps,” as the title says.


Biscuit in the Garden is a “My First I Can Read” book, so I guess that’s a pre-one?  It’s Alyssa Satin Capucilli, of course, but the pictures are by Pat Schories and they’re adorable!  Puppy Biscuit is even cuter than bigger Biscuit.  The book gets repetitive with the dog always parking, and the dog’s barks are not differentiated between the girl’s lines, which is kind of irritating, but that’s the only flaw of this super-cute book.  Puppy Biscuit with bird seek stuck on his face, omg!

P.J. Funnybunny was one of my daughter’s favorites growing up.  I still have most of It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny memorized from back then.  In Marilyn Sadler’s level two reader, P.J. Funnybunny’s Bag of Tricks, P.J. learns to be a magician and likes the attention he gets.  But what happens when the show’s over?  It’s no “P.J. Funnybunny was very sad.  He did not like being a bunny…” in terms of the lesson, but it’s fun and there’s a magic trick in the back to learn!  I’m only sad there aren’t more P.J. books to recommend to kids.

Okay okay soooo coool!  Lego Monster Fighters: Watch Out, Monsters About! by Simon Beecroft is a level three that makes you earn it, but I’ve never read a Lego book that seemed less like an advertisements, and that makes me happy.  There are so many things going on!  It’s an adventure!  It’s got all these cool minifigures (that refer to themselves as minifigures)!  It’s awesome!  Me wants allll of them, especially the Vampyre Bride and zombies!  See?  You can sell me things and tell a story.  It’s easy.  Just be smart.

I’ve got two Dr Seuss replacements that are filed under Easy Reader but have no level: I Wish that I Had Duck Feet and I Am NOT Going to Get Up Today! The former, illustrated by B. Tobey, is a cute book about the ups and downs of being different, and the good thing about being one’s self.    The latter, illustrated by the awesome James Stevenson, is quick and hilarious, and it makes me sad that I’ve only got one storytime left, because I think the kids would like this.  But I guess that’s what circulating books is for.

Penny and her Marble by Kevin Henkes is another Penny book.  I loved Penny and Her Song, so I was looking forward to this.  Penny finds a marble and it’s so pretty and fast she doesn’t want to ask if the obvious owner lost it, but her conscience gets the better of her.  She works through everything herself, and there’s a happy ending, but…should her neighbor have known better?  There are some good questions to ask at the end, but I don’t know if that’s because it’s a good book or because it isn’t.  But still–Penny! Guilt! Etc!

Wait a second, did I miss a Penny book?  I did!  Penny and Her Doll must’ve come in when I was sick or on vacation.  (I TOLD them to set aside ALL the books for me, but noooo.)  And it’s out, so I can’t even read it.  Boo.

Castle: How It Works by David Macaulay is pretty cool!  He shows you the inside of the castle and how you would see if it you were “friend or foe.”  I really enjoyed this one.  But then, I’ve read a lot of historical romances.

I don’t like Pete the Cat.  I don’t like the art, I don’t like Pete, I don’t think we need to teach kids today the word “groovy.”  In Pete’s Big Lunch, a series of unimaginative pictures takes us through the idiot cat’s idea of what a sandwich looks like.  (Spoiler alert: the cover gives it away.)  The resolution is pretty good, but that was about all I liked.  Stupid Pete the Cat.


There’s a lot to cover in Let’s Talk About Being Away From Your Parents, but Joy Berry tries to tackle it all.  I wasn’t super-crazy about Maggie Smith’s art here–her mouse is so emotive, but her people are not–but the text itself is comprehensive for such a little book.  Recommended for anxious kids, or little ones who are sleeping over somewhere for the first time, or whose parents are going on a trip by themselves for the first time.

Help Me Be Good: Disobeying has a far different cover girl than the one inside, which is weird, but okay.  Berry goes step by step as to why disobeying is not cool, why punishments are necessary, and how to avoid getting in trouble.  Older kids might find it a bit condescending, but it’s a basic explanation for little ones, so there you have it.  Again: comprehensive.  (Unlike the board books.)

Eric Metaxas’s Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving makes me twitchy just reading the title.  But it’s pretty accurate: it’s got Squanto’s kidnapping and whatnot.  But it’s definitely religious-based.  There may be hard work and tragedy and travesty (tell us about how his tribe probably died because of the settlers, kk?), but it’s all God.  Not super-crazy about Shannon Stirnweis’s art; Squanto looks significantly different from page to page, and often looks Caucasian with darker skin tone.  Eh.

I remember when we moved from the suburbs to the Pine Barrens way back when, and I looked at the sky and thought, “Oh, THAT’s why we had to make constellations!”  You need little memory tricks to figure what’s what, there are so many when the lights of towns and cities aren’t in the way.  Still, I don’t love Zoo in the Sky, by Jacqueline Mitton.  The kids did, which is why I reordered it, but something about it doesn’t sit right with me.  Maybe it’s because it’s hard to figure out where the stars are on the animals sometimes.  That’s Christina Balit, though, not Mitton.  Mitton’s descriptions are fine, and I guess they can be a stepping stone into mythology, which is awesome, but I just…I don’t know.  I wonder why Balit didn’t put the paws where it seems to be paws, that sort of thing.  Again, the kids like it.  We used to do a lot of star-watching at the library when we had someone come in and talk to them.  It’s hard in the suburbs though; between the weather and the light…eh.


Jasper & Joop is a quick, cute one from Olivier Dunrea.  Sometimes I like him, sometimes I don’t.  I like this one, even though there isn’t much to it.  It reads more like an Easy Reader than regular fiction, but mine is not to catalog; mine is but to read and comment.  The book is about two very different, adorable best friends and their adventure one day.  Little ones will enjoy it.  I’d read it for a Toddler Time if the book itself weren’t so small.

The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe tells the story of—well, I just had one of these.  Does Pat Mora’s story add anything?  Not really.  It’s just a grandmother retelling the story to a grandchild and her friend.  They are making paper roses, but the book does not tell us how.  They have rose cookies, but there’s no recipe.  So.  Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher give us some sedate art.  But I think I preferred Bernier-Grand’s version of the story.

I know I’m meant to be charmed by Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld, but like Wumbers, it left me a bit wanting.  The ! himself is cute, the story is cute, the writing it on “lined paper” is cute, but…I don’t know.  Something’s missing.  Maybe it was TOO simple?  I can’t put my finger on it.  I liked it but didn’t love it.

Okay, maybe it’s because I’m not feeling well, but EVEN BOB SHEA ISN’T ADORABLING ME OVER HERE.  Cheetah Can’t Lose is okay, but…only Cheetah gets to have a personality, really.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s me.  What else we got?

Aw man, Lottie Paris and the Best Place.  I don’t love Lottie, either.  Maybe it’s because she always looks like she’s got her mouth open vacantly.  Maybe it’s because nothing really happens in this book.  I mean, she meets a friend, but it’s presented in such a hands-off way that I feel like it didn’t happen at all, you know?  That could be the fever talking.  Whatever.  Still don’t love Lottie.

Nora’s Ark is pretty cute.  Eileen Spinelli tells the story of a girl who builds an ark–well, not quite an ark–and has a bunch of animals come in two by two–well, not quite a bunch…and so on.  It’s cute as a button and I like Nora Hilb’s art.

Is it Nora week at the library?  Nora’s Chicks is an old-fashioned story by Patricia MacLachlan about an immigrant girl named Nora who has no friends and little to comfort her in her adopted country.  Sometimes I love the art, by Kathryn Brown, and sometimes I wonder that the expressions don’t quite work.  The colors are wonderful.  I’m not sure the book will circulate, but I hope so.

…Okay, there are some poetry collections and MLP stuff left, but you know how I feel about those things, so forget it.


…Unless I get sick of constant weeding over the next four days and some new books come in!

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