Showing posts with label young children's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label young children's. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Emily's Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary


Rating: WORTHY!

Read competently by Christina Moore, this was a pleasant listen - not spectacular, but highly amusing in parts. In other parts it was slow, but overall, I considered it a worthy listen.

Set about four years after the author was born, in the early 20th century, this 1961 novel tells the story of Emily Bartlett, who is the young daughter of a farming couple in the hamlet of Pitchfork Oregon, and she has some peculiar ideas about what to do with her time. She seems to expend a lot of thought on how others will perceive her, and not enough though on whether what she's doing is smart or even makes sense, and she seems to have some sort of learning disability in that she never really learns!

Her biggest dream in life appears to be to read Anna Sewell's 1877 novel Black Beauty and so she enthusiastically helps her mother with a plan to start a local library, which they do in bits and pieces over the course of the novel. I'm not sure if 'runaway imagination' accurately describes Emily. It's not like she's a Walter Mitty character, but she does come up with one odd scheme after another. These are usually cooked up in pursuit of self-aggrandizement, but sometimes they're rooted in thoughts of helping others, such as when she tosses fermenting apples into the pig yard and gets the pigs drunk on the cider in the apples.

There's an arguably racist part near the beginning of the novel where Emily corrects a venerable Chinese gentleman who mispronounces her dog's name with the clich├ęd 'l' substituted for an 'r'. He greets the dog as 'Plince' rather than 'Prince' and Emily corrects him, so it goes viral (such as it was able in those days) and the dog is known by its new name for the rest of the story.

The dog and pony show really got underway though, when Emily decided to bleach her family's plough horse to make a white beauty in celebration of her cousin's visit. Black Beauty is her cousin's favorite story. My problem with this was that not once was any thought given to what the bleach - which was left on for fifteen minutes, might do to the horse's skin and health. If Emily had had the decency to try the bleach solution on her own skin for fifteen minutes, I'd have had a lot more respect for her, but she didn't have that kind of imagination, unfortunately.

But, given the age of the tale and the humor in it, I decided to let this slide this time and commend this as a worthy read, although I'd recommend some discussion with your child(ren) - after words afterwards (or during, if you read it to them!) about correct conduct and empathy. I would have thought a farm girl like Emily would have had a lot more smarts than she did, but the story wasn't bad, so there it is!


Saturday, January 5, 2019

I See a Bear, But... by KA Morgan


Rating: WARTY!

I tend to apply a different - but not a lower - standard to children's books in my reviews. I don't think they should offer less than books for grown-ups, but I cut them more slack in how they tell stories, in artwork, and sometimes in quality if the story is nevertheless good. I especially favor them if they're amusing, instructive, clever, or downright off the wall, which is probably why I love my own The Little Rattuses™ series so much. I couldn't do it with this one though.

I'm a great fan of puns and do not understand why something that was so beloved by Shakespeare has become such an object of derision these days, so I was amused by the title of this book and I had hoped the interior would deliver more of the same, but not exactly the same! The problem with this book was that all it did was essentially repeat the same butt joke eight times over, and the story didn't even deliver anything educational about the animals except the cliched general "knowledge" that everyone has about bears, moose, wolves, squirrels, rabbits, deer (even though a moose is in fact a deer!), raccoons, and skinks. And yes, moose is the plural of moose - not mooses, and certainly not meese.

The author has apparently made a rather extensive career out of this same shtick, because she has titles like "I See a Cat, But...", "I See a Chicken, But...", and "I See a Reindeer, But...", but it's the same thing endlessly repeated. There's nothing new or educational here and I cannot commend something as unimaginative and uninventive as this.


Monday, December 31, 2018

Parfois by Emma Dodd


Rating: WORTHY!

Definitely the last review for 2018!

The author studied Graphic Design and Illustration at the famous Saint Martin's in London. This was a delightful novel which was perfectly intelligible even though written entirely in French (translated from the original English by Albin Michel Jeunesse). Why my local library had a book written entirely in French, I do not know, but since my French is very rusty and never was fluent, rest assured you would have an easy time too, no matter what state your lingo is in.

This colorful and short book is aimed at very young children, and depicts a naughty baby elephant getting up to antics as such offspring do. It was elphantastic. I predict that this young elephant is going to become very big.


Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson


Rating: WORTHY!

OK, so I'm willing to admit that I may have overdone it with the graphic novels lately! Anyway, here’s another one, this time aimed at a younger audience, but which entertained me despite that! It was amusing, decently-written, and contained some fun antics. I think kids will love reading or better yet being read to about the escape plans of these classroom pets, especially if you sit ‘em on your knee and activate the story by jogging the kid around a bit to match the pets’ escape activities. I commend it as a short, but colorful and fun story.


Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick, David Serlin


Rating: WORTHY!

Created by married couple Selznick and Serlin, this is a fun children's book which follows PI Baby Monkey on several jobs, all of which seem to follow a curiously rote format. He has a problem reported to him; he reads books; he takes notes, he has a snack; he puts on his pants; he follows footprints, and nails the perp every time!

Have you lost your marbles? Er, jewels? Baby Monkey will find them with horse-sense (the zebra did it). Spaceship stolen? Baby Monkey won't space out! Pizza gone missing? Baby Monkey will slice and dice it and blow through the bologna. With Selznick's striking illustrations and Serlin's repetitive and instructional prose, any enterprising young child can learn to read more good with a book like this! I commend it as a fun read for young children and their grown-ups! You can read an amusing interview about the making of Baby Monkey here: https://www.shelf-awareness.com/max-issue.html?issue=270#m575 (URL good as of this posting).


We Build Our Homes by Laura Knowles, Chris Madden


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a fun and educational story about animals that build. Be it homes or a means to attract a mate, they do a workmanlike and wonderful job, and they live all over the world.

In a series of colorful and beautifully-done illustrations by Chris Madden, and with some rather poetic prose from Laura Knowles, the story is told from the animal's perspective and describes (from the blurb): "mammals, birds, and insects [which] can be found building incredible things. From biggest beaver dams to tinniest caddisfly cases...." There are the exotic, such as ovenbirds, which build adobe huts on tree branches, and the amazing Darwin's bark spiders, which build gigantic webs, to the more mundane, such as moles, to the highly endangered by human stupidity and lethargy: polar bears, who can build a toasty home out of icy snow in bitterly cold weather, and then starve themselves for five months while their cubs almost literally suck them dry!

The book doesn't focus solely on fluffy mammals like too many children's books do, but covers some insects, reptiles, as well as birds, and features some more grown-up details in the back for interested adults - and every adult should be interested in what we're doing to our home even as these animals struggle to continue to build their own. Every kid needs to be raised with a deep appreciation for nature and for the damage humans can do when we think only of ourselves and not of our home - Planet Earth, Anything which can bring kids a keener awareness of nature, and how it works, and how delicate some of it is, is to be welcomed, and I commend this for being an important part of that education.


Leonardo's Science Workshop by Heidi Olinger


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a fun book advertised as a STEAM book, which to me was confusing until I realized it meant STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, (and) Mathematics. I've never known it to be referred to as STEAM, although it does have other acronyms that have been used from time to time. To the best of my knowledge, the America COMPETES Act of 2007 refers to it as STEM, although the companion book I also review today includes Art, so maybe that's where they're pulling the 'A' from.

Frequently referencing Leonardo da Vinci, who was not a steampunk (in case you wondered!), but an artist, inventor and innovator, this book introduces youngsters to his work and through it to a look at science, nature, and even some art. Growing up with no formal education, Leonardo from Vinci nevertheless mastered a multidisciplinary approach to topics and excelled in pretty much everything he explored.

And he explored a lot, which gives this book a huge platform to launch an assortment of explorations itself, including flight, motion, 3D illusions, and even an electron dance, as well as making your own fabric from recycled plastics. Yes, depending on the age/ability of the child, some adult help may be required here to pursue all these topics, especially since da Vinci isn't the only great thinker of yesteryear who is called upon. Other well-known names are Galileo Galilei, James Clerk Maxwell, and Isaac Newton, so you know this needs to be approached with a certain amount of gravity, although an Apple computer isn't required....

I do ahve to point out that the airfoil explanation on page 20 is not correct. NASA’s own web page here: https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/wrong1.html explains. Wikipedia also has an explanation: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift_(force) . It’s also questionable whether Galileo Galilei dropped lead balls from the tower in Pisa, but likely he did a similar experiment rolling balls down a ramp. He wasn’t the first, though. John Philoponus did it a millennium before Galileo, and it was definitely done by Dutch scientists in the late sixteenth century.

More spectacularly, astronaut David Scott did it on the Moon during his Apollo 15 mission using a hammer and a feather, which in the Moon’s near-vacuum, both hit the ground at the same time. And on the topic of Moon astronauts, Neil Armstrong actually said, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It’s just that the ‘a’ got lost. If you listen very carefully you can just about catch a brief hesitation where he says it. If the first person to set foot on the moon had been a woman, I'd be willing to bet she would have said 'humankind', but I guess we'll never know!

Anyway, I commend this book as a fun and entertaining occupation for young - but not too young - children.


Leonardo's Art Workshop by Amy Leidtke


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This is a companion to the other book I reviewed today (Leonardo's Science Workshop), and is aimed at the arts, again through the lens of Leonardo of Vinci's accomplishments, and often referring to his own art and notebooks, of which he left many - although nowhere near as many as he wrote, it appears.

Leonardo never saw any separation between the topics of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, commonly referenced today under the acronym STEM (not STEAM, as these books term it). Leonardo always went deep into a subject if he went at all, wanting to understand not the superficial, but the integral, and this book follows his example, offering fun and delightfully messy topics like creating paints and dyes from food, as well as beautiful ones, such as working with prisms, and other aspects of using light for art, such as building a camera obscura, as well as understanding what light is.

Art of the past is explored in entertaining and practical ways such as in contour drawing, and to keep things in perspective, there's also a discussion of one-point perspective drawing. Science and art are brought together, in much the way Leonardo himself did, by exploring ideas and work by such artists as Sandro Botticelli and Paul Klee, and such scientists as Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo Fibonacci.

There's a bad error on page 95 where an eight inch diameter circle is determined to have an area of fifty square feet! I think they meant fifty inches! Also page 109 on 'Spectacular Spans' has a color key which shows valley folds blue, but image shows them green. Whether this was just in my electronic copy I do not know, but if it's in the print version it needs correcting.

If you have time (and who doesn't?!), you can make your own sundial using information in this book, or even an infinity scope which sounds a lot more dangerous than it really is! The sundial isn't just a project. You learn in reading about it, not only how it was made, but why it was made the way it was - so please, do touch that dial! This is the approach throughout the book and is an excellent learning opportunity for any young child. I commend this book as a worthy read.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

How Rude! by Clare Helen Welsh, Olivier Tallec


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This book for young children, illustrated simply, but colorfully and effectively by Tallec, describes a tea party organized by Dot. She invites Duck, who has no social graces whatsoever. Why? I'm, going to duck that question....

He (or perhaps she!) knocks things over, tosses clothes on the floor, takes things without asking, drinks from the vase of flowers, and on an on, until suddenly, in a magical moment, duck gets it and realizes that misbehavior has been perpetrated! I see this book as a great opportunity to talk with young children about what went wrong on each page, and how it could have been avoided, or fixed if it couldn't have been prevented. I consider it a worthy and educational read for young children.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Illuminatlas by Kate Davies


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Despite the fact that I am rating this as a worthy read, because for young and inquisitive kids I don't doubt that it will be fun and educational, I have to say that I saw little point in sending this book out as an ebook for review purposes without the accompanying colored 'lenses', because without those three lenses, whether this book is print or electronic, you are completely unable to gage the quality and utility of the images!

Those pictures are printed in three colors, and when viewed through of one the three lenses, red, blue, or green, reveal different things. For each continent ion this atlas, red revealed cultural highlights, blue revealed natural wonders, and green revealed the continental outline and surrounding ocean.

I am not a professional reviewer. I don't get paid for this. I don't even ask for thanks (and rarely get it!) for any of the getting on for three thousand reviews I've posted on this blog. I review books because I love books, and because I think good books deserve promotion, especially when they're aimed at children. So I do not merit print versions of books even when they're designed as print books.

All I get is the ebook, and in order to fully review this particular one properly, I had to do a screen-capture on a couple of images, import then into an art program I have, add a transparent layer to it, color that layer in each of the three primary colors in turn, and then reduce the opacity of that color by 25% in order to see the image below and gather what it is I'm supposed to see when the reader looks at these pages through one of the colored lenses. Consequently I did not do this for all images! I did get the picture though - literally - and it's quite fund when viewed not just through that lends, but through a child's eyes. It's rather reminiscent of that 2004 movie National Treasure where the trio is looking at the map thorough the different colored lenses of Ben Franklin's spectacles.

So again, while I wonder what the publisher was thinking in issuing this for review sans lenses, and while I'd personally have some reticence about buying a book which has not one, but three separate additional and crucial components to it, any one of which could become lost and spoil the experience, I still have to say that I consider it a worthy read provided you can use the lenses (or fashion an adequate substitute for any that get lost). It's fun for kids to explore things by themselves and take control of their reading experience, and it is magical to discover how light can hide and reveal secrets.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Super Structures by Ian Graham, Ian Murray


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Yes, it’s the attack of the Ians! Super Structures by Ian Graham and Ian Murray, and reviewed by Ian Wood! It's a short (~20 pages), well-illustrated book about engineering feats: bridges, towers, skyscrapers, wind turbines and so on. It explains in some detail, but not overmuch, what they are, how they work and how they are built. It’s a great idea for a young, budding engineer or architect, or for any kid who loves to find out how things work.

It goes into a little bit of depth about the history of the structures, too: how this kind of building first began and how such feats are developed, which bridges came first, what the main types are, and how the newer, larger ones manage to stay up. I even discusses different kinds of windmills (the modern sort!), so I learned something there that I did not know. Did you know that the most common kind of modern windmill is HAWT?! We have a whole bunch of those west of where I live in Texas.

The colored drawings are detailed without being architectural, and so are pleasing to the eye, entertaining, and educational. The writing is factual and brief, but still with enough detail to engage young minds and to educate. I liked this book and I think any kid with an ounce of curiosity would - and which kid doesn’t have that?! I commend it as a worthy read.


Who are You Calling Weird? by Marilyn Singer


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a treasure trove of joyful illustration and rewarding information about weirdoes among the animal world. I'm quite well read about the natural world, and especially about oddball critters, but this book held some surprises for me. Some of these animals I had never heard of before; some I am quite familiar with, such as the narwhal, and the pangolin, but I'd never heard, for example, of the Pacific barreleye which is a startling creature to say the least. If someone had invented that for a sci-fi story you would never have believed it.

The book covers over twenty animals, including humans who are in some ways the weirdest of all. The illustrations were colorful and amusing, and the book very educational and eye-opening (barreleye-opening in my case!). I thought it was wonderful and a great way to fascinate a child with the wonders of our natural world, and how delicate and rare they are, and how much they need our love and protection. I commend it unreservedly.


Planet Earth by John Farndon, Tim Hutchinson


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Don't tell me you didn't want to know this 'Stuff you should know about'. There are adults who could learn a lot from this, but it's aimed at younger readers, with dazzling, full-page (and multi-page!) illustrations and quite a bit of text. It explains Earth, from the core to the sky, and from dusk until dawn, and from north to south, and from dry to wet - in short, everything that goes on with Earth as a planet is in here: How does the Earth move and orbit, how night and day work, why the moon seems to change over the course of a month, what's under the Earth's crust and how does this make continents move? It covers volcanoes and mountains, rocks and water, air and clouds. It digs into caverns and ocean trenches, and discusses storms, rain and the wind, and offers tips on becoming your own weather forecaster!

Designed from the ground up as a print book, this doesn't work too well as an ebook which is the only version I had access to, and especially not on a smart phone! Even on a decently-sized tablet though, the illustrations need to be stretched to read the text. Some of the pages were single screen, but most were a double-page spread, and some were multipage spreads - I imagine the actual book has some pages where a leaf on one page or both folds out to double the size of the illustration.

I'm by no means a scientist, but I am well-read in the sciences for an amateur and I saw no problems with any of the information here, so I commend it as a worthy and very educational read which will answer pretty much any question a younger child has, and stir up a passion to go find out more detail in older children.

I don't know if the ebook review version, which is the only version an amateur reviewer like myself ever gets access to, was abridged, but mine was in two different downloads. The book is numbered through page 80, where the index begins (there's also a glossary), but the ebook numbering on the bottom of my screen went only to page 21! Now some pages where multi=page spreads, so for example what was listed as page 10 by the ebook reader was numbered on the pages form 20 through 23, but even so, the page numbering went only to 57 on my ebook, so I was missing about a third of the book.

It was also difficult to maneuver in the ebook version - hard to swipe from one page to the next, and troublesome to stretch the pages to read some of the text. Also, it was a bit slow to load the next page. I commend this book as a worthy read (assuming the print book has all the pages!) and based on reading only about two-thirds of it, but I cannot commend the ebook version (assuming that there is one, based on my experience of this review copy.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Egypt Magnified by David Long


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Technically this is Ancient Egypt Magnified, but I'll let that slide! I have no idea how much work it took to create this picture book for children (and even a few adults, I'll be bound!), but I will testify from my own experience that it had to be a heck of a lot.

The patience involved in this kind of detailed work is stunning. In a small way, it's reminiscent of the Where's Waldo books, but other than a superficial resemblance, it's a very different book. It does involve some spotting of people among a crowd of similar-looking people, but the underlying power of this book is educational, and in that as well as in visual appeal, it runs like an Egyptian Mau (which in case you don't know, is a very sleek and fast domestic cat and a descendent of African wild cats).

Each double-page covers an aspect of ancient life or history in a country which is replete with historical depth. The pages show hundreds of ancient Egyptians living, moving and having their being, involved in all kinds of activities from farming, to pyramid construction, to parades, to mining, and on and on. I don't think there's anything that isn't covered.

Note that this is designed as a print book so even on a tablet computer, the text is very small. You'll need to stretch it to read it, or buy the print version. It's not designed to be an ebook, unless you own one of those television-sized super pad devices, but the ebook is the only version I had access to for this review.

Note also that the author encourages the use of a magnifying glass (hence the title!) to spy-out the 'search' items on each page, which sounds like fun for a young kid. On a tablet, you really don't need one, since you can splay your fingers and enlarge the image, but if your kid isn't up to that, a magnifying glass would work too. The images in the ebook version were a bit blurry when enlarged. I assume that's because the images were low-resololution to keep the file size down, and that the print version will be sharper, but this is only a guess on my part.

Each page contains a couple of short, but information-packed paragraphs about life, as well as a key to ten things or people you can find in the picture, and what those particular things and people represent. There's also a quiz at the end to see if you recall where you saw certain images. On top of that's a primer on hieroglyphics, a glossary of terms, and a timeline of Egyptian history, highlighting the highlights! In short, it's perfect.

I had to do some research on Egyptian ancient history for a section of my novel Tears in Time and also for the more recently released Cleoprankster so I know without even having to look anything up that this author knows what he's talking about.

There are some areas of Egyptian history that are obscure - such as exactly how those huge stones were hauled up those even huger pyramids. I can pretty much promise you it wasn't up a long straight ramp like the one depicted in the fanciful movie 10,000 BC! Such a ramp would require hauling more material than the pyramid itself! Whether it was by an encircling ramp as is depicted here or some other method, such as levering the stones up the stepped outside of the pyramid, or by my personal favorite of maneuvering them up an internal ramp (at least in the later, larger pyramids) is hard to say without further research or discovery.

There's no de-Nile - everything a kid could ever want to know about ancient Egypt is most certainly here for their enjoyment, from ankh to Zoser (okay, Djoser, gimme a break!), and from mummy (which is a bit graphic be warned!) to sun worship, and everything in between. I commend this as a fun and education read for children of all ages.


The Not-So-Brave Penguin by Steve Smallman


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was designed from the outset to be a print book (there's a page toward the beginning which has a space for the owner's name to be written in!) so it lacks the same force when viewed as an ebook which is the only format I had access to. I wouldn't recommend trying to read this to a kid on a smart phone, but on a tablet computer it's a decent size, unless the pad is one of those really small pads.

Instead of being presented as a double-page view, it featured only single pages which made it hard to appreciate the layout as it was intended to be seen. I don't know why ebook versions do this - some which ought to be seen as single page images are instead presented as double, and vice-versa. It makes for an irritating read in some regards, and not something suitable for a small screen, but once I got past that, I appreciated this book for young children which talks of fear and bravery and friendship.

Percy Penguin is a tear-away, whereas Posy Penguin is timid and reserved. This might be seen as a bit genderist, but it does comport with how many boys and girls tend to be, although it by no means is true in every case. There's a moral to this tale however, because Percy's passion for daredevil activities is what gets him into trouble when he goes off to explore a passing iceberg. Posy seems to be the only one who thinks there might be something wrong, and like a guardian angel, she steps up where others fear to waddle, heading over to the iceberg to see why Percy didn't come home.

She learns that she can do anything Percy can - and do it better since she doesn't get herself into trouble, and she learns some self-sufficiency and garners the strength to overcome her fear of the dark to boot! It would have been nice to have had the point raised about running-off without telling your parent/guardian where you're going (parents here seem to be alarmingly laissez-faire!), but that aside, I enjoyed this book carrying a lesson in a fun and colorful story, and I commend it as a worthy read.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Cookie Eating Firedog by Lida Sideris, Joan Young


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I could not help but want to like this one because of the title which was so absurd, and in the end I did enjoy this young children's colorful and fun story about a naughty firehouse dog - which is of course the traditional Dalmatian.

This is a departure from this author's usual line of writing, which is aimed at a much more mature audience and tends toward murder mysteries. Also do not confuse her with Lisa Sideris who is also an author and an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University.

Based on a twenty-year-old story that came out of something her young (at that time) son said, the book was created rapidly, but found no publisher. Now it has one, which is an object lesson in never giving up. Those firefighters should never have given up on their dog either, because while he was a lazy little critter, much preferring to eat cookies than fight fires, even when out on the truck at a fire, he learned his lesson when a fire started...at the station house! And with dogged determination, he came through! The Dalmatian escaped damnation! Give that dog a cookie!

I thought this simply yet sweetly illustrated (by Joan Young) story was a blast and I commend it as a worthy read for young children.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

What Does a Princess Really Look Like? by Mark Loewen, Ed Pokoj


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Written by psychotherapist Mark Loewen and illustrated in fine entertaining style by illustrator Ed Pokoj (sorry there's nothing I saw on his website to illustrate how that last name is pronounced! Oy? Odge? Something else? Is he playing Ed games with us?!), this story tells of Chloe!

Chloe is an enterprising young woman who is having a creative quiet time in her room, inventing the perfect princess - and she's quite inventive in doing so. She works long and hard, adding more paper to the small piece she began with for the head, and drawing a complete princess - and not forgetting to dress her in a fine dress made from colored paper. But is she perfect with a wonky dress? What makes her perfect? Chloe has some good ideas about that, and her two dads are happy to help out at the end.

I thought this book was charming and inventive and perfect for young readers. I commend it. With the Mark Loewen hook, and the Hocus-Pokoj drawing lines, this book won't sink!


Who Will Roar if I Go? by Paige Jaeger, Carol Hill Quirk


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Illustrated beautifully by artist Carol Hill Quirk, and written poetically by the author with the highly appropriate name of Paige Jaeger (Jaeger in German means 'hunter'! Page Hunter? Great name for a writer! LOL!), this book highlights some of the endangered animals on the planet, and we really need to start paying close attention.

We need to focus not just on the species charmingly depicted in this book, but to entire ecosystems that we are despoiling not only through hunting, poaching, and habitat destruction, but also through climate change, which notwithstanding our idiot president's delusional view of science, IS caused by humans, IS happening right now, and IS dangerously affecting the entire planet.

The lion is considered a 'vulnerable' species, which is only one step up from endangered. The gorilla is critically endangered, which is one step below 'merely' endangered. Well over a thousand rhinos were killed by poachers in 2015. Their population cannot remotely sustain such wanton murder. The western black rhino and the northern white rhino are already extinct along with a sub-species of the Javan rhino. We will never see their like again. The rest of the Javan, and also the Sumatran rhinos are critically endangered, and the Indian rhino is vulnerable.

In the mid-nineteen thirties - Ernest Hemingway's puffed-up 'Great' White Hunter era - there may have been as many five million elephants in Africa. Now there is far less than a million. The tiger is Asian, and it's endangered. There is much less than four thousand of them left in the wild. Most zebra species are endangered. One of them, the quagga, is already extinct.

The quetzal bird is much better off, being 'only' near-threatened, while the Chinese giant salamander is critically endangered because the idiot Chinese hunt it for food and medicine. The North American Karner blue butterfly - which I have to be honest and say the art in this case does not do justice to (sorry, Ms. Quirk!) - is vulnerable, and all eight species of the pangolin - which live across the southern hemisphere and which are utterly adorable - are threatened with extinction. Despite China doing the right thing (but perhaps only because it's a national treasure) the panda is still considered vulnerable.

This gorgeous picture book is the beginning of what I hope will be a successful and informative series because it has a lot of potential not only to do good, but to be inventive in how it informs readers. This first makes a colorful statement and a plaintive call for help.

There's a glossary of long words in the back. I would have liked to have seen a short section giving some details - for the grownups! - in the back along with some ways they could help - for example by means of listing URLs of conservation and wildlife protection organizations, but any enterprising adult ought to be able to find those for herself these days. Other than that I though this was a treasure and I commend it for its message and its presentation.


Friday, November 2, 2018

I Don't Want to Eat Bugs by Rachel Branton


Rating: WARTY!

Illustrated rather oddly by Tim Peterson, this book for young children didn't impress me. The story is supposed to be about a young girl curiously-named Lisbon. Maybe she should have been named Lisbon-bon since she's so hungry! Reporting to her mother, the poor child finds no solace there.

Her mother informs her that dinner is almost finished (by which I assume she means it's almost ready), but instead of offering her a small snack though, or advising her to wash her hands and take a seat at the table, and having her maybe eat a little salad or fruit, mom sends Lisbon out to play?

The oddity about this image is that Lisbon looks pregnant, despite being little more than a toddler. I found that a curious illustrative style. Maybe it's part of the eccentricity of the depictions, because Lisbon also looks like she shares a condition of macrocephaly with Joseph Merrick.

When she goes outdoors, Lisbon is offered a bug by a bird and she declines. The illustration of the bird makes it look like it has a trunk. it took me a minute to see that the bird is extending a wing to offer the bug. Next her cat offers her a mouse it has caught. The dog recommends catching a hedgehog, but failing that, offers her some of its dry food. Finally she decides on ice cream which her mom promises her after she eats dinner, which is now, of course, ready. Lisbon doesn't wash her hands.

This book could have been a great opportunity to educate readers. It offers no reason for Lisbon to reject the food other than the mouse is cute, for example, but neither does it explain that there are cultures which do eat bugs, and hedgehogs, and mice, but it was wasted. It didn't really tell a story, and certainly it wasn't educational, to say nothing of unhygienic, so I can't commend this at all.


Peter & Ernesto a Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable


Rating: WORTHY!

I can see why the publisher didn’t want to let a reviewer like me at this story when I requested it from Net Galley: it wasn’t very good. But they can only delay my review – they can’t silence it! The story, I’m guessing, is aimed at a very young mindset, but even so it really fails to tell any kind of a story. Peter and Ernesto are sloths, and curiously-hued sloths too, given how drab and alike their cookie-cutter compatriots are.

One of them - and I forget which - decides he wants to head on out and see the sky – like he can’t see it from the top of his tree. He wants to see the sky from other parts of the world – for a certain highly constricted values of ‘world’ - so he sets off walking - on two legs - to see what he can see. Curiously everyone he meets is nice and seeks to help him.

He makes a short and seemingly pointless journey - not really looking at the sky or noting how or even if it changes, and then he abruptly turns around and heads back, meeting his pal on the way. That’s it! That’s the entire pointless story. It’s neither entertaining nor educational, and the artwork is childish - perhaps deliberately so, but I see no redeeming value in this story and cannot commend it.