Tag Archives: Children’s book reviews
The Story of Growl by Judy Horacek
Growl is an adorable fuzzy grey monster. She lives in a massive castle on a huge tract of land, all by herself. But she’s happy. She growls all day long and on Sundays sings her growl song. The only problem is, she likes to sneak up on her neighbors and scare the pants off of them at tea-time. Well, naturally they are upset. But their Draconian response is to pull strings and get the police to outlaw growling on Growl’s property! The nerve! Needless to say, Growl is heartbroken. She spends all day and all night fretting, worrying, no knowing what to do with herself. But then, while she sits awake pining, she hears a sound from across the fence. Someone is breaking into the neighbors’ house! Without stopping to think, she lets out an enormous GROWL and frightens the robber away. The neighbors recognize that growling has its place, and Growl recognizes that there is a time and a place for growling. Maybe not while your neighbors are having tea.
This book is kind of cute and kind of disturbing. I’m a little put off by the suggestion that police could create laws to keep one neighbor from being annoying is troubling. Beyond that, Growl is adorable, and in the end that’s what matters, right?
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Boy Wonders by Calef Brown.
The newest addition to our bookshelf is this collection of very silly poem things by author and illustrator Calef Brown. “Boy Wonders” is a series of queries on a number of subjects. I’m sure most of us don’t have answers to most or possibly any of his questions, but they are sure to elicit chuckles and perhaps a stream of inane questions in response. I’ll be honest with you: I’ve always liked Calef Brown’s poetry a lot more than his imagery. I find a lot of his pictures to be kind of creepy. It’s mostly the way he draws noses. That’s not the only thing, but that’s the most prominent thing that creeps me out. Fortunately, this is a pretty un-creepy collection.
Among the musings contained therein are such vital questions as: “Are phones annoyed when no one calls? Do ants, when anxious, climb the walls? Is water scared of waterfalls?”
You get the idea. my son’s favorite is about Jason and the Argonauts:
I’m proud to say my son has actually improved on this by changing it to: If I were an Argonaut, would I say “Argh”? Or not?
Boy Wonders is a silly fun book for anyone who loves a ridiculous pun or play on words. So long as you aren’t scared of weird-looking noses.
Post by Mark T. Locker
Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, and Lois Ehlert.
A lot of people have read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. If you look it up, you will find an endless stream of YouTube videos dedicated to reenacting this story using computer graphics, stop-motion animation, you name it. It’s got a fun and catchy rhythm and rhyme scheme and it’s handy if you are learning the alphabet and upper- and lower-=case letters. Basically the story is this: a bunch of lower-case letters climb a coconut tree, fall down, and their parents, the upper-case letters, come to their aid. It serves its purpose. But who would have guessed that such a basic and generally plotless book could have a SEQUEL?
Enter Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3. No points for guessing what the follow-up book is about. When my son saw there was another book in the Chicka Chicka genre, he was super excited and I had little recourse but to order a copy to my local library branch. Branch! That’s funny, because both books are about climbing trees. This one is about numbers climbing an apple tree (why not?).
If I had to pick one of these two books to read every day for the rest of my life, it would be the original. Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 is very repetitive. It requires one to read a lot of numbers out loud. I think it goes up to thirty or something and then back down again.
That said, little kids can’t get enough of the musical rhythm, bright colors and animated numbers and letters. I’m just glad nobody’s requiring me to read them every day for the rest of my life. Once a week is plenty.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.” Those are the famous words uttered by the squat mustachioed thing in the beloved and at times controversial book, The Lorax. Believe it or not, despite my identity as a father and a children’s librarian (at heart, if no longer in practice), I only read this for the first time last week.
SPOILER ALERT: It’s kind of depressing! This greedy guy with a desire to build useless junk nobody needs cuts down every darned tree in the land. All the birds fish and bears who relied on the trees must necessarily leave and find somewhere with a more suitable habitat, leaving this land drab and dead. And not even economically sound in the end!
It’s a pretty straightforward moral lesson about our role as stewards of the earth, and about greed, and about money before the health of the environment. I appreciate the importance of teaching kids the importance of the world around us. It was clearly an important theme to Dr. Seuss. This book has none of the joy, silliness, and oddity for which he is so well known. It’s just dark, and upsetting, and sad. It ends, of course, with the single seed from the last Truffula tree, which is supposed to mean hope for recovering from all of man’s destruction. It would have been nice to maybe show the trees growing back, the fish returning, something like that. That’s my favorite part about watching nature recover from disaster.
Anyways, I think it’s a good lesson to share, but I’m not reading this one every night for days on end!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Even More Revolting Recipes inspired by the stories of Roald Dahl.
I know what you’re thinking: “This is a cookbook! Who in their right mind reads their child a cookbook at bedtime?”
My response is: who doesn’t want to be lulled to sleep with visions of delicious, gooey delectable treats? Rivers of fudge and fluffy marshmallow clouds? C’mon! Plus, all the recipes in this series are inspired by delectable (and sometimes disgusting) descriptions from Roald Dahl’s stories. From “Hornets Stewed in Tar” to “Tongue Rakers” to “Noshnibblers” the variety of names and dubious combinations is actually a pretty entertaining read. Each recipe is accompanies with an excerpt from his stories, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to The BFG to a bunch I’ve never heard of.
Here’s the caveat. As hilarious and fun as it would be to whip up a batch of Stickjaw for Talkative Parents, what makes these recipes fun is what makes them horrible as well. Most are heavy on the corn syrup, marshmallows, chocolate, or sugar. Not to mention food coloring. My son and I love to look at the pictures and read the names of the recipes, but it is highly unlikely that we would make most of these, ever. Except maybe the Nishnobblers. Because you spread chocolate over bubble wrap, which makes for an awesome effect: