Tag Archives: Children’s book reviews
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Adam Rex.
Chloe and the Lion starts out like your run-of-the-mill children’s picture book, telling the story of a little girl named Chloe who spends her weekdays collecting change and the weekends riding the carousel with tickets bought in loose change. But one day, after too many rides, Chloe gets dizzy and lost in the woods.
But the story takes a hilarious turn when author Mac and illustrator Adam have a difference of opinion over Chloe’s fate. Although Mac writes a lion into the plot, Adam Rex draws a dragon instead, insisting that a dragon is “way cooler”.
And so the story carries on, more about the conflict between Mac and Adam and each trying to outdo the other. Poor Chloe can only wait for them to resolve their issues. But when Mac decides to illustrate the book on his own, the girl is so atrociously drawn that she decides to take matters into her own hands.
What I love about this book is how genuinely funny and clever this book is. And although the meta-story may be a little above the heads of kids who don’t recognize that books are made by authors and illustrators, they can appreciate the terrible drawings and an author whose illustrator gave him a gorilla body. I intend to go and buy a copy of this book for myself.
Post by Mark T. Locker
Happy October! We begin the countdown to Halloween and to kick it off, here are two books about everyone’s favorite bolt-necked, sewn up, misnamed monster, Frankenstein(’s monster)!
Frankenstein and the Bride had a child, inexplicably. Even more inexplicably, he seems totally normal. So on his first day of school, all the other monsters are unfriendly and dismissive. But little Franke has a couple scary tricks up his sleeve. He can horrify with the best of them, howl like a proper beast, and draw some grotesque creatures. Needless to say, all the monsters suddenly approve of and like him. Although the story is primarily about prejudgement it is not really discussed. In my opinion, this book has nothing to offer. It’s not very clever, it’s not well-written or well-illustrated, it’s not worth picking up and reading. Though it may bore you or your child to sleep.
This one’s a little bit better. Frankenstein is a bit shy but lovable. Dracula, his friend and neighbor, is more outgoing and kind of a jerk. When Frankenstein decides to throw a Halloween party, Dracula decides to throw one too, stealing all the invitations from Frankenstein’s mailbox so no one would go to his. But while Dracula’s big bash is in full swing, he sees sad Frankenstein alone at his party. The bloodsucker, in a rare moment of guilt, takes the party to Frank. A little subtle humor and some funny illustrations save this book from the dud list.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You/Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman.
We grabbed this off the shelf at the library because it was about zombies, ghouls, and monsters. Turns out it’s a pretty good book, too! So as the title suggests, it is designed to be read by two people. Or two zombies, werewolves, whatever. So be prepared to have a helper if your kid can’t read, or be prepared to put your mad acting skills to the test. I read it with my wife. It was fun and a bit challenging.
Now, they call the stories “scary” but I think “not scary” would be a more apt term. They are, however, actually pretty funny. Two zombies trying to figure out how to look beautiful. An ogre and a giant discussing how delicious cake-filled babies taste. There are a bunch of books in this series, but if it doesn’t have zombies in pretty makeup, I’m personally not interested. I’m sure they are lovely, I’m just partial to monsters.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Orangutans are Ticklish : fun facts from an animal photographer by Steve Grubman with Jill Davis.
Fast fact: Orangutans are ticklish. This is important survival stuff and I recommend you remember this. Also, if you see a hippopotamus yawn, he’s not sleepy so don’t go cuddle up with him. He’s liable to bite you in half!
These are a few of the tidbits of information provided in this big, colorful book compiled by veteran animal photographer Steve Grubman. Each page features an awesome giant photo of an animal accompanied by factoids that will amaze and inform parent and child alike. You will finally know decisively whether that’s an alligator or a crocodile you are running from. And that ant problem in your backyard will be solved in a day by a hungry aardvark, who will eat 50,000 of those lemony critters in a day! The pictures are, of course, great and the information is brief but very interesting.
My only complaint: No one seems to have a conclusive answer as to whether zebras are white with black stripes or vice versa. I’ve heard compelling arguments on both sides of this very serious issue and this book only adds more fuel to the fire.
You’ve probably never heard of this book before. Chris Van Allsburg is an obscure 18th Dutch children’s author from the town of Blokzijl. The word “Jumanji” is an archaic term from an obscure dialect meaning “to harness one’s sorrows and transform them into hopes”.
—Hang on, I’m getting a message:
What’s that? Oh, it turns out that Chris Van Allsburg is from Michigan and his books have sold millions and Jumanji was made into a best-selling movie starring Robbie Williams—sorry—Robin Williams.
Well, I can’t introduce you to something new every week, now can I???
Well, my kid got the 30th anniversary edition of Jumanji for his birthday. I can’t believe it’s over thirty years old now! Anyways, this particular edition came with an audio version of the book read by
Robbie Robin Williams. Honestly, he does a pretty good job reading the story. He is an actor, after all. There’s some weird saxophone thing going on during the intro and at the end, but otherwise it’s perfectly fine. I was thinking about all this tonight as my son cried and cried to please listen to Jumanji. Again. After all, like I said, it’s pretty good.
But not that good.