Showing posts with label Mary Lee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Lee. Show all posts

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Emma and Snowbell by Mary Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

This is the last of three reviews of children's books by Mary Lee. They're seasonal, and this one is obviously aimed at Christmas. The little girl who is at the heart of these stories is named Emma, which happens to be the name of a niece of mine as well as the title of a Jane Austen novel.

Each of the three novels has rhyming text patterned after a song or a nursery rhyme. The Christmas story follows the rhythm of Jingle Bells. The composer of the original rhyme, James Lord Pierpont, is offered no credit for the song the author riffs off, which is sad, but since it was composed in the mid-nineteenth century, I guess that's the way it goes when your copyright expires! Jingle Bells, originally title One Horse Open Sleigh, tells of sleigh races which were held in the early nineteenth century./p>

Emma doesn't have a sleigh, one horse open or otherwise, so she's trudging through the snow until a reindeer takes pity on her and gives her a ride - in the sky, as reindeer are wont to do. I liked this story. The do-over of the song was amusing and the artwork was, as usual, fun, so I recommend this one.


Emma Had a Little Turkey by Mary Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

This is the second of three reviews of children's books by Mary Lee. They're seasonal, and this one is obviously aimed at Thanksgiving. The little girl who is at the heart of these stories is named Emma, which happens to be the name of a niece of mine as well as the title of a Jane Austen novel.

Each of the three novels has rhyming text patterned after a song or a nursery rhyme. The Thanksgiving story follows the rhythm of Mary Had a Little Lamb. The composer of the original rhyme, either Sarah Josepha Hale, or John Roulstone (or both!), are offered no credit which is sad, but since it was composed almost two hundred years ago, I guess that's the way it goes when your copyright expires! The interesting thing is that it was written about a real person, Mary Sawyer, who actually did have a pet lamb she took to school with her one day - I guess for ewe and tell?!

That said, Mary Lee's re-wording of the song is amusing. The turkey's feathers are soft as snow, and it followed her everywhere, including to a school soccer game where it proved to be such an adept player that the team won the game! I liked this story and the amusing rhyme, and again the artwork was sweet, so I recommend this one.


You Are My Pumpkin by Mary Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

This is the first of three reviews of children's books by Mary Lee. They're seasonal, and this one is obviously aimed at Halloween. The little girl who is at the heart of these stories is named Emma, which happens to be the name of a niece of mine as well as the title of a Jane Austen novel.

Each of the three novels has rhyming text patterned after a song or a nursery rhyme. The Halloween story follows the rhythm of You Are My Sunshine. The composer of the original song is somewhat of a mystery, but is apparently thought to be Paul Rice. The author offers no history or credit for any of the songs she riffs on, which is sad.

That said, her re-wording of the song is amusing. Instead of 'sunshine', we get 'pumpkin', as Emma views skies that are black with bats instead of blue with sunshine, on Halloween night, and she plays with the owls. I found it a bit sad that the author retained the line "you'll never know pumpkin ['dear' in the original] how much I love you" - I would have thought that loving parents would find ways to communicate that much! They may not understand the cost of such love, but kids sure understand its power.

That said, I liked the story and the easy rhyme and the fun artwork, so I recommend this one.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Super Fish 2 The Stare Wars by Mary Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

This book is a riotous sequel to a riotous first book, and once again features the mysterious tiny super hero girl fish, who wears a mask and sports a cape? Our host this time is an octopus who we interrupt in the middle of making a sandwich - with real sand. You just don't get that kind of service nowadays.

The octopus seems quite obsessed with having staring contests, but I would caution you severely against getting involved in a staring contest with an octopus on a smart phone. It's a worse proposition than getting involved in a land war in Asia. The only person ever to have beaten the octopus in the staring contest is in fact: Super Fish! You knew it, right?

This was a fun addition to the series, and I think more fun than the first one. What's more, it featured actual sharks! Yes!


Super Fish by Mary Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

I've had some good success with Mary Lee's books, although not every one of her's I've read is a gem. This one though, is a riot! How bizarre - a tiny fishy super hero! And a girl fish too! Who is that masked fish - and what's with the cape? As soon as I read the dedication (by a star fish, no less!), I knew this was a book for me. The wording reads, "Dedicated to the amazing fish that make our oceans beautiful, except for sharks and jelly fish. They don't make good choices." How can you not love a book that starts out like that?

With bright colors standing out against the deep, dark, ocean background, you can't fail to be impressed with how this lights up the characters. Our host is the turtle who was once rescued by Super Fish. He has stories about her and even a photograph. He can barely contain himself, and that jar with the fish in it...?

I thought this was fun and frivolous and very entertaining - and eminently readable on a smart phone in case that tablet isn't to hand.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Little Girl Pink by Mary Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

This is a charming bedtime book for those little girls (and boys) who can't seem to get sleepy when they're supposed to. Little Girl pink is one of 'em, and she's the very devil to get to sleep because her grey bear is missing! Oh my! I can't tell you how many times that's kept me awake. Her industrious mom (who I suspect has dealt with these issues personally!) tries her best to help her with counting sheep (the sheep are asleep!), a nice warm bath, but now there's a storm outside.

That bear is out there somewhere, and if Fox and Mulder can't find it, it's up to you, mom! There is a happy ending to this story, rest assured, and finally little miss tear-away closes those sleepy eyes and nods off. There's also an object lesson here in making sure your kid hugs a different plush toy each night, so they don't get stuck on only one, but of course, she's a little individual, so maybe that won't work. I think it's worth a try! Warm milk might work too, assuming your kid isn't lactose intolerant in which case it would be a disaster. Maybe some soft classical music on the iPod? Anything is worth trying once, right?!

I liked this story because it was warm and fuzzy (yeah, I'm a softy despite some of my reviews!), it's nicely drawn and colored, and it tells a useful tale. I'm not going to say anything about the color scheme for girls (other than this)! I recommend this one as a worthy read. Assuming you can stay awake through it! Note that the book was readable on a smart phone, but it's probably a lot more enjoyable on a tablet or in the printed format.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Surprise in the Kitchen by Mary Lee


Rating: WARTY!

This is the third is a series of Mia books that I got as a single set. Two out of three isn't bad. This one was less appealing than the previous two. They're very much aimed at girls, and I wish they were a little more inclusive, but the story is about Mia, and her activities and passions, so that's the only perspective we get. That said, I did like the books in general terms. They were fun and feisty and interestingly drawn and plotted. The books are colorful and the other two told a real story. I imagine they would be quite engaging for all children, until the young boys start growing into other pursuits. This one was less than satisfying.

Mia is a fun-loving and slightly accident-prone child who has a wild imagination and goes full-on into new adventures. In this one, she's invited to make cookies with mom. What bothered me about this one, having read three of them now, was that dad was not very involved in Mia's life. I got the impression that these stories were rooted in true life adventures, and that dad was out at work while mom was home (or out) with Mia during them. This is fine, but it would have been nice to have seen more variety in terms of parental interaction in Mia's stories even were it not there in real life for whatever reason. Mom even seems to sleep alone as judged by this particular story. Indeed, dad got only one mention in the entire three-book set, and that was very briefly in the first one I read. maybe they got divorced?!

Mia isn't fond of baking, but she is fond of eating, so she feels rather like a spare wheel in the kitchen. She decides to make up for this by preparing breakfast for mom, and it turns into a predictable Mia-style disaster. It's nothing a nice plate of spaghetti can't cure, however. I can't recommend this story for the reasons I've mentioned, and because this one felt a lot less engaging than the previous two had. The cookie-baking was really not there - there was a start and an end but no middle (where we learn what went into the cookies), and I felt this was an omission that should have itself been omitted. Actually we didn't even really see Mia get to eat a cookie!

This could have been used as a great teaching tool - to encourage children to seek advice from one parent when planning a surprise breakfast for the other, so it doesn't end up as too much of a surprise; to teach kids a bit about baking and kitchen safety; to show engagement with the dad in making the cookies. I think, as a recipe, it was lacking and needed healthier ingredients. But I wish Mia the best and hope her dreams and adventures continue!


Beautiful, Amazing Magical Ballet by Mary Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

This is one of a really fluffy set of children's books written, I suspect, by a mom about her daughter. The books are available in a set of three which is how I got them. The drawings - presumably by the author herself, since no artist us credited, are completely charming. The book was very readable and charmed even a curmudgeon like me, so I don't doubt it will delight children. Note that this is very much a girl's book however (there's a lot of pink here, too!), and as such it's unlikely to interest many boys, especially older ones, unless they're particularly interested in what girls get up to when boys aren't around.

The pictures were colorful and sharp, and the drawing was perfect for the intended age range. The text was simple without being dumbed-down, and there was a real story going on. I read the book on my cell phone and it was perfectly clear and legible, but one thing I missed out on is that you cannot get the double-page spread when you read the book in electronic format. You get each half of the double page on a separate screen which ruins the effect. I've encountered this same problem with graphic novels when reading them on a tablet. I think publishers and writers really need to understand that you can't write a half-way book like this - it needs to be written either for e-format or for print. It can't straddle both unless you create two separate editions, one dedicated to each format.

Keeping in mind the intense discipline, pain, broken toe nails and even broken toes that are in store for anyone who truly wants to take up ballet seriously, I recommend this for a fun read. It entertained me, as Mia goes off to her first ballet lesson and makes quite an impact - literally. This story is very imaginative, taking us inside Mia's thoughts and illustrating them for us. It bothered me that there were quite literally no boys in the ballet class. Even though this is clearly aimed at girls I think it's important not to stereotype in this manner. Boys can and do enjoy dance and ballet and it seems a bit exclusive to not even depict them. We're never going to have real gender equality as long as children are routinely subjected to this kind of subtle "brain-washing" and passive exclusion/inclusion.

Other than that I found the book as charming as the first and I recommend it, with these issues in mind.


Not Just a Princess by Mary Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

This is one of a really fluffy set of children's books written, I suspect, by a mom about her daughter. The drawings - presumably by the author herself, since no artist us credited, are completely charming. I read this book on my cell phone and it was perfectly clear and legible, but one thing I missed out on is that you cannot get the double-page spread when you read the book in electronic format. You get each half of the double page on a separate screen which ruins the effect. I've encountered this same problem with graphic novels when reading them on a tablet. I think publishers and writers really need to understand that you can't write a half-way book like this - it needs to be written either for e-format or for print. It can't straddle both unless you create two separate editions, one dedicated to each format.

That said, the book was eminently readable and charmed even me, so I imagine it will delight children. This is very much a girl's book however, so while very young children will enjoy it regardless of their gender, as your boy grows older, he may not find this as engrossing. The pictures were colorful and sharp, and the drawing was perfect for the intended age range. The text was simple without being dumbed-down, and there was a real story being told here.

Mia is a feisty and self-possessed little girl who has a very active imagination. She's not in a princess mood today however - anything but. She's a lioness at breakfast, snarfing down her cereal. Note that 'lioness' is the author's term, not mine. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. While lioness is a technically accurate appellation for the female of the lion species, note that it's only the lion, really, that gets this distinction. Yes, there is tigress, but it's rarely used. There isn't cheetah-ess or leopard-ess, or a cat-ess (you have to go to Tom and Queen - or maybe even quean for a feisty cat) . I wonder why? For animals, it doesn't bother me so much, but when human females are subject to the same treatment, it smacks of genderism to me. I'm very much against adding 'ess' to a word and declaring that the confine of the female of the human species. Why actress? Why not just actor? Why authoress? Shephardess? Progress? Am I kidding with that last one?). It's worth a thought.

Moving along now, I recommend this story overall, because although she was typecast with lioness and cowgirl, Mia steadfastly refused to be otherwise constrained, taking on a variety of personas through her day, and even in her dreams. I didn't doubt that she would live her dreams as she grew up. This book is also available in a trio of Mia books.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sweet Dreams Little Pup by Mary Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

This story struck me as wonderful. Maybe I was in a really good mood when I read it, but I honestly believe if I had been in a bad mood I would still have enjoyed it because it's so sweet. The illustrations by the author, Mary Lee, are perfect for the age range this is aimed at - colorful, simple, very well done, and charming. The story is simple, but very entertaining and relaxing. How can you not love a story which has a character named Little Pup in it?!

Little Pup lives with Grey Bear, and loves to go to bed early for the dreams, which he enjoys greatly. The problem is that on this particular night, he can't fall softly down into noddy-land. He's not sleepy! He tries counting butterflies (see what I mean about being sweet?) He's not thirsty, and he's tried some stretches and exercises, and that didn't work. What's a pup to do?

I'm feeling sleepy just thinking about this now as I write the review, but maybe that's because it was a long and busy day! Or maybe not! This book is designed well enough, with large enough text, that you can even read it from your cell phone, which is an added plus if it turns out to be your child's favorite book - it's always to hand! I recommend this little book.