Tag Archives: Children’s Book Review
Post by Mark T. Locker.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.
Did you know there was a doctor before Dr. Who? That’s right. He was named Dr. Seuss. Perhaps you have heard of him. He recently got lots of coverage for his book Green Eggs and Ham being read on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Well before that day, he wrote this Christmas book which I’ll bet everyone but me read long, long ago. It has been turned into both a live-action and an animated movie. It’s got a soundtrack whose songs appear on occasional Christmas mixes and it is firmly embedded in our culture. Verily, anyone who vocalizes a dislike for the season is promptly labeled either a Scrooge or a Grinch.
I, on the other hand, only read it for the first time last week. My kid has seen the animated movie numerous times, regardless of whether is Christmas or Flag Day or Arbor Day. Who can blame him? There are precious few Flag Day movies for kids. Always interested in raising a well-rounded child, I grabbed the book when I saw it on the shelf. Doubtless all copies will have been snatched up by now. (Yup, 21 holds!)
I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m going to assume the book is better. Full of that holiday redemption that people just eat up this time of year, what better moment than the Grinch’s realization that Christmas isn’t just about getting stuff? (Well, in theory, at least) Watch his heart grow three sizes! Watch him join the Whoville inhabitants for roast beast! Fun for all ages.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables by Jon Scieszka.
Well, the holiday season is just around the corner! Maybe it is time to have your children brush up on their moral fiber. What better way to reinforce life’s lessons than with some good, old-fashioned fables? Even if you don’t recognize the name, if you have kids you know Jon Scieszka (pronounced CHESS-KA if you’re wondering). He has written and illustrated literally (okay, not literally) billions of kids’ books. He also is a huge advocate for encouraging reluctant male readers to find books that will appeal to him. To be honest, a lot of his works don’t appeal to me. But this collection I am pretty sure pleases me more than it does my son.
He begins the book by teaching us a bit about Aesop and how he used his fables both to inform and to speak out, under thinly-veiled metaphor, against the ruling class. What follows is a number of one-page fables accompanied by one-page illustrations and some rather unhelpful morals. They are actually quite hilarious. I think they are funnier than my kid does. One of my favorites is the Duck-Billed Platypus and the BeefSnakStik® which concludes with this memorable exchange: “I am one of only two mammals that lay eggs.” “Big deal,” said BeefSnakStik®, “I have beef lips.” Moral: Just because you have lots of stuff, don’t think you’re so special.
In short, this book is hilarious fun for old and young alike! Moral: Read this book to your children, or by yourself, tonight!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Bats at the Library by Brian Lies.
If you have never read Bats at the Beach, no need to worry. There is nothing in the sequel, Bats at the Library, that will be confusing if you skipped the first one. As you may guess, Bats at the Beach was about a bunch of bats at the beach. Playing bat games, eating bat snacks. Any guesses what Bats at the Library is about? That’s right: it’s about the same troupe (flock? herd? murder?) of bats visiting their local library. It seems a careless (or possibly thoughtful) librarian has left a window ajar, just enough that the bats can cruise in after hours. The librarian in me is torn between horror and delight that the bats are inside. I can only hope they are toilet trained!
It turns out they are a very respectful bunch and use the library just as one would hope they would: reading stories, shadow puppet theater, storytelling. Who knew bats were so thoughtful? The illustrations are fun, and if you have a keen eye, you can spot some homages to children’s literature: Dorothy and her friends in bat form, the kind policeman from Make Way for Ducklings, and many more. A good read for kids in preschool or kindergarten.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr by Garth Nix.
It’s audiobook season up here in the Bed Blog! When slogging through a long, soggy commute, or plodding through a massive mindless task, audiobooks are a great way to get some reading done and take the pain out of an otherwise burdensome or stressful task. Also, to be quite honest, I read at a ninth-grade speed so I don’t get a lot of novels finished in my down time. All this, I suppose, is to justify listening to audiobooks. So there. I listen to audiobooks, but only if the narrator is fantastic.
Lirael is the follow-up novel in the Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix. I reviewed Sabriel some time ago and recently re-read it. When I picked up a copy of the audiobook for Lirael, I was delighted to see that it is read by Tim Curry! And although I can’t help but hear his character from Clue sometimes while I listen, he does a great job. I love the character of Lirael because she is a misfit in the Clayr, who are the seers that live on a glacier. Lirael doesn’t have the Sight, but she has a far better grasp of magic than anyone else on the glacier. She even managed to create a companion for herself, a magical (but very real) dog who declared herself to be The Disreputable Dog. Garth Nix creates wonderful, snarky, talking magical animals. Lirael is my favorite second assistant librarian with a sword and the book is great fun. If you haven’t picked up this trilogy, you are missing out.
Hedgie’s Surprise by Jan Brett.
What you need to know about this story is that there is a tomten in it. The main antagonist, the one causing all the trouble, is a tomten. There are not a lot of children’s books out there that require me to look up one of the first words in the story! Perhaps this just speaks to my poor Scandinavian folklore education. Apparently (according to Wikipedia) a tomten, or tomte, is a “humanoid mythical creature of Scandinavian folklore.” In this story, the tomten is a very small, troublesome little scamp who resembles an elf. And a rotten, selfish little elf-thing at that. Every day he barges into Henny’s coop and steals her eggs. She begrudgingly tolerates this until she realizes that if she could keep the eggs she could have baby chicks! But despite her best efforts, she cannot keep that tomten away.
Happily, Henny’s friend Hedgie the hedgehog (I know, these names are not up to Jan Brett’s usual standards) helps devise a cunning plan by hiding the eggs and replacing them with various other edibles, until at last Hedgie hides and gives that tomten a prickly surprise! This is not the book Jan Brett is best known for; it’s a perfectly good read and the images, as always, are lovely. Great for kids 4-6.