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

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Tib & Tumtum by Flora Grimaldi, Nicolas Bannister


Rating: WARTY!

This is a Calvin and Hobbes wannabe and it fails. It also has elements of Minecraft in it in that this area looked like a series of giant stacked flower boxes straight out of Minecraft's lack of design workshop. I learned later that it was supposed to be a cliff! The art other than that, by Bannister, wasn't bad. The stories by Grimaldi were boring and uninventive.

The story is of Neanderthal kid Tib, who has a birthmark in the form of a red splash around his left eye. Other kids constantly make fun of him because of this. He's friends with a dinosaur (the Hobbes of the duo) named Tumtum, which animal his mother detests because she thinks it's dangerous. Well, it is to bird chicks, because this one poor nestling who fell out of the tree was swallowed whole and eaten by the dinosaur without a second thought.

The entire graphic novel is a series of one page cartoons retelling the same stories of cruelty and stupidity and bullying and loneliness over and over. The kid is bullied by his peers, or he plays with the dinosaur. His parents are largely absent and don't seem to care how miserable the other kids make him. The story is a disgrace and therefore warty.

Anyone who thinks humans and dinosaurs ever lived at the same time in history is a moron, period. I'm not going to recommend a book that panders to that while at the same time offering nothing to ameliorate it and make it worthwhile suffering this fictional lie. If it had been a sabertooth cat for example, in place of the dinosaur, it would have made more sense, but I'm guessing that the authors didn't do that because it would have shown exactly how much of a cheap rip-off of Calvin and Hobbes this book truly is.

The book doesn't even attempt to teach any history with all of the people having a modern mindset and using a modern vocabulary. All the author did was to take the laziest way out possible: put modern people into stone-age times, add an anachronistic dinosaur and hope people will (literally) buy it, without making any attempt to offer anything original, educational, inventive, fresh or new. Why not rip off the kids? It's pathetic.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Fishtale by Hans Bauer, Catherine Masciola


Rating: WARTY!

Read acceptably by Adam Verner, this turned out to be a boring audiobook that had initially sounded interesting. The story is of this oddball family whose mother loses her wedding ring to a particularly hungry fish, which has bitten her finger and won't let go. Before it could be caught and made to barf up the ring, the little fish is eaten by a cormorant which in turn, while chasing another fish, is eaten by a much larger catfish in the shady water. It's rather like a nesting doll or maybe like the layers of an onion, but this doesn't mean the missing valuable is an onion ring!

The main character (maybe - I really couldn't tell from the story) is Sawyer Brown, whose Mississippi family has a catfish farm. After his mom is bitten by this ring-hungry fish, she gets sick, and sawyer decides that this is connected with her ruing the ring. Naturally he has to go on a quest to get it back. It was at this point that I lost interest in the story. It may well appeal to a younger audience, but I've read many stories aimed and younger audiences and enjoyed them. This one just piscined me off. There really wasn't anything in it to pull me in (the big fish notwithstanding!), even when I tried to see it through younger eyes than mine.

I can't therefore recommend it based on the 25% or so I listened to. One problem I had was keeping all the characters clearly defined in my mind. This may have been because I was driving while listening, and when I drive my primary focus is on the road, but the morning drive is usually quiet and uneventful and I don't usually have this problem, so I can't help but think this was because my mind was wandering for no other reason than that the story simply wasn't engaging it.


Matt the Green Cat by Jenny Mitchell, Abira Das


Rating: WARTY!

I wasn't impressed with this. The story, written by Jenny Mitchell, and illustrated colorfully but lazily by Abira Das, is supposed to be about accepting differences, but the cat really isn't different: it's just paint-stained, so that it's green instead of ginger. Perhaps this isn't going to be noticed by young children, but it bothered me.

Matt the cat is green. His mom was repainting the wall in one of the rooms in their house (so kudos for allowing that a woman can paint rather than defaulting to the dad!), and Matt got splashed. Rather than put him in the tub and wash him off, everyone seems to suddenly accept that Matt is now green and is stuck with it.

This struck me as weird also! The rest of the story is then about Matt parading aimlessly around and being accepted by everyone he meets with no issues. I don't think that quite gets to the core of the matter! Unless the author's intention as something quite different from what I thought it was (color-prejudice), which is quite possible.

I had a problem with Matt in that every picture of him was pretty much the same - like the artist could paint only one perspective. I swear his head was reused several times and never once does he look at the reader. This gave him an air of arrogance and superiority which mitigated strongly against the air of affability with which the author seemed to want to imbue him. Again, it's for young kids ands maybe they won't notice, but why take that chance?

The worst problem with this book though is that the image wouldn't shrink to fit the iPhone I first read this on unless the iPhone was in portrait position in which case it was way small. it was way small anyway, so I looked at this book on my iPad and had the very same issue! It's not just the iPhone, it's Amazon's crappy failure of a Kindle app - yet again!

It was really annoying too, because picture was always larger than the screen which meant that often, the text wasn't visible. You either had to pinch the picture to reduce it and hold it to read the text, otherwise it would spring right back to oversized, or you'd have to slide the picture up and down (the width was fine, it was just the height that was off screen since my phone isn't square but rectangular!) until you found the text to read it.

Amazon doesn't care. They're so big, they don't have to care! Why waste effort on improving a free app when they can frustrate you through their incompetence to buy a device instead? This is one more reason why I thoroughly detest Amazon.

So, in short, I cannot recommend this, and I wouldn't advise selecting this book to read at all unless you do have some sort of tablet computer to read it on that's bigger than a phone.


Woody Saves the Day by Harvey Storm


Rating: WORTHY!

How can I not like a book which has a title character whose name so closely allied with my own?! Yes! Biased review coming up!

Woody is a mouse who rules by fear. He has a secret which makes other animals try to placate him with gifts, but life at the top can be a lonely one as Woody discovers, until along comes Rocky the fox, who is caught in a downpour and finds shelter in this strange and forbidding cave. Rocky discovers Woody's secret and urges him to come clean. Honesty is the best policy (as neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris pointed out in his very perceptive - and honest! - book Lying). Woody decides to take the plunge and face whatever it brings - and good for him!

This book is interesting and useful, and a good idea. The story is simple and the images colorful and illustrative. The only oddball thing I encountered was this sentence: "...and there was a terrible noise that made his wool stood on end." The verb tense is wrong and foxes do not have wool! They have a type of hair commonly referred to as fur, in keeping with all other members of the dog family. This made me wonder if English is not the author's first language and if his name is a fake one! C'mon, hurricane Harvey Storm?

That's a minor problem though, so overall, I commend this book as a worthy read for young children - and even a few adults who might be inclined to tell stretchers.


Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo


Rating: WARTY!

Newbery award winners have been such consistent disappointments that I refuse to read them anymore. This was an exception only in the sense that it became one by dint of the fact that I'd read some DiCamillo books recently and enjoyed them. I decided against my better judgment to give this one a try, but all it did was serve to prove my case! The book was not helped by the fact (and I didn't realize this when I requested it at the library) that the original print version is illustrated. The 'The Illuminated Adventures' part is very tiny on the audiobook cover, and I'd thought 'illuminated' was merely metaphor anyway, so the important question here is: why on Earth was this book turned into an audio book? Shame on the publisher.

The story is about Flora Buckman who vacuums up a squirrel named Ulysses. I tell ya, if I had a dime for every time I've done that! What is it with squirrels and vacuum cleaners for goodness sakes? Just 'cause it's called a Dyson Ball doesn't mean there's dancing, you squirrels! The Kenmore Elite Pet friendly doesn't involve any petting! The shark navigator doesn't actually guarantee safe passage through shark-infested carpets! That's more of a pest control issue, quite frankly. And a side-defect of buying deep carpets I might add....

Anyway, the squirrel magically develops super powers and Flora becomes the side-kick. And no - this isn't the most bizarre plot I've ever read - or thought of for that matter! The blurb calls this "a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters," but we all know 'back cover blurb' is another term for outright lying. It almost made me yell out loud for crying out loud. That right there should have warned me off it. I avoid books where the blurb says it hosts 'wacky' or 'zany' or 'eccentric' characters. Again I mistakenly made an exception! More fool me!

I gave up on this after listening to only a few minutes of Tara Sands reading this. This marks the fourth audiobook I've listened to which she also read, and only one of those four have I actually liked. This was not that one and I cannot commend it at all. No more books with the initials FU!


Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins, Gail Herbert, Lil Crump


Rating: WORTHY!

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

This was an amusing and entertaining Canadian production written by Hutchins and Herbert. It's also educational story for young children, with an enterprising young main character who is on a trip to the art museum and is not onboard with this idea at all!

She's bored in the foyer before they even start looking at these classical paintings and sculptures, and she's constantly finding herself getting berated by the security guard for being too noisy, or for touching the exhibits, or for eating in the museum. It's enough to make her scream (and I really enjoyed the page featuring Edvard Munch's Der Schrei der Natur) but then something changes and Anna gets to see a little of the inner workings of the museum.

For me this was a bit of a stretch that this would bring about a magical change, but art is in fact magical so I let that slide without any problem. Now Anna sees art in a new way and relates it to nature and everything is sweet! Finally she appreciates these things she's been seeing, but not really seeing before, on the walls all around her.

Lil Crump's artwork is amazing and skillful and if that doesn't win over a kid then I don't know what will! Her depiction of the actual classical paintings is wonderful. She definitely beats my parodies in The Very Fine-Art Rattuses so if I had a hat, I'd take it off to her! I think this book was wonderful. It teaches a valuable lesson and makes for some fine entertainment. One of the real joys of this book is that Anna is not only depicted as a person of color, but as part of a mixed race family, and this is very rare in children's books, so the story is to be commended on that score too. Now that I've commended it, I can recommend it as a worthy read!


Jane Goodall by Isabel Sanchez Vegara


Rating: WORTHY!

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

This is another in a series of books aimed at doing its part to redress the imbalance between genders when it comes to high achievers. This one shows young children that a determined young woman can do whatever she wants if she puts a mind to it.

The story simplifies Goodall's interesting and complex life considerably, but hopefully it will inspire children to read more about her as they mature. Her story is one of an abiding interest in animals ever since she was young, inspired in part by a plush toy she had as a child: a chimpanzee. From this simple beginning, she found her way to Africa and came into contact with famous human ancestry researcher Louis Leakey, who eventually dispatched her to work at Gombe, where Goodall's unorthodox research practices were at times criticized, but which nonetheless produced original and unexpected research results.

Goodall was one of three Leaky Ladies, so to speak, whom Leakey named 'The Trimates', the other two being Dian Fossey who died horribly at the hands of gorilla poachers, and Birutė Galdikas, who studied orangutans. Each of these has written one or more books on their studies. It would be nice to see a book in this series for each of the other two women. I commend this one as a great start.


Lucy Maud Montgomery by Isabel Sanchez Vegara


Rating: WORTHY!

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

This one covers the author of Anne of Green Gables who also authored many, many other books including sequels. Montgomery had a rather troubled childhood in that her mother died before Montgomery turned two, and her father felt incapable of raising a child. He immediately put her into the care of her maternal grandparents, who were rather cool towards Lucy. When she was seven, her father left to work elsewhere, making Lucy a very lonely child, so she made up imaginary friends and had a rich fantasy life to go with them.

It's this imagination which led her into writing, something she was very interested in from a young age despite some setbacks. When she had Anne of Green Gables published it was such a roaring success that she never looked back, focusing on fulltime writing, at which she was very prolific. This book does an admirable, if slightly fanciful job of depicting this writer's childhood and her determination to succeed, and I commend it as a worthy read for young children. We need serious writers and if this inspires more of them it can only be a good thing.


Meet Me at the Farmer's Market by Lisa Pelto, Paula S Wallace


Rating: WARTY!

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

This was a brightly and simply illustrated (by Paula Wallace evidently - to my very inexpert eye - in sweet watercolors) young children's book aimed at introducing them to the delights of the farmer's market, but for me it did not get there. Our host is a young girl, seven-year-old Sophia, who each week goes with her mom (who seems to have an inordinately long shopping list!), and while this would superficially seem to be the way to do this, I felt that an opportunity was missed here.

Sophia shows us everything from her PoV, which on the one hand is a great 'in' for other young kids, but on the other, it missed out on teaching young children about good, wholesome, healthy food, and if that's not your aim, why go to a farmer's market?! Most kids these days think food is what comes from the packages on the shelves at the local supermarket. Or worse: from a vending machine. Even an organic food store or a co-op or something like that still has food on shelves. The beauty of a farmer's market is that the foods are laid out very much like they were when they were first pulled from the ground or plucked off the tree or bush. There's a panoply of sensory delights to be had here, but we seemed to have bypassed those on this outing.

This connection with the farmer and with the earth is a crucial one that children need to understand and I got none of that from this book. The book focused on Sophia's limited joys of visiting: seeing families with their dogs, playing with balloons, people-watching. In 17 pages, only four or so actually talked about the food, and none of those related to it in any real way, much less conveyed the hard work or the growth of food from the soil, or to the importance of nurturing our Earth, or of climate change making an impact, or of eating healthily and exercising.

There was barely a word about the joy of being outdoors or relating that experience to food grown outdoors. All we got was a mention of the weather. Nothing was said about the taste of fresh veggies or the smell or feel of touching fresh, whole food. Instead we got the kids eating popsicles and other junk food. There was nothing about where the food came from and what was involved in producing it. No child would want to read a story that simply and boringly lectures them, but for me, this was a truly wasted opportunity to carry a real message, subtly woven into the fabric of the fun stuff. Humans have five senses, all of which delight young children, but the only one that really got any sort of an outing here was the eye.

To me, this book felt lazy in its approach. I wish the author and illustrator all the best in their respective careers, but I cannot recommend a book that fell far too short of the fine goal it ought to have set for itself and for our children.


The Journey of York by Hassan Davis, Alleanna Harris


Rating: WARTY!

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

This is a short (~40pps) young children's illustrated book depicting the role played by a slave named York during the May, 1804 through September, 1806 expedition of Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark. While the expedition is well-known, the contributions made by the Lemhi Shoshone woman known as Sacajawea (meaning 'bird woman'), and by Clark's personal slave, known as York, are less well publicized.

Sacajawea's contribution to the success of the expedition is no less valuable than York's so it's a pity she gets such short shrift in this story, especially since she did it while pregnant, giving birth, and successfully raising the infant during the trip! On the other hand, it is about York so it's understandable that he's center stage.

Very little is known about York, about what he did on the expedition, or about what became of him afterwards, and there are differing stories on this. It would appear that he was treated differently during the expedition than he was before or after it, when Clark seemed to revert to treating him exactly like a slave, whereas during the trip he was treated more like an expedition member than anything else. The fact is though, that while we know he was on the expedition and obviously contributed to the effort, and while he was rewarded by having a couple of places named after him (one of which was later renamed after someone else!) we know nothing about the day-to-day inner life of this man.

We do know that Sacajawea and York made history by being (as far as is known) the first woman and the first black man ever to vote in the USA! Again, not that Sacajawea is mentioned as voting in this story, only York. This wasn't a vote for political office, merely a vote on where to build a winter fort, but nonetheless, these two were included - again confirming that they were treated as full members of the expedition rather than anything else.

That aside though, everything in this story is necessarily conjecture. We don't know exactly what happened or exactly how relationships were, or what either York or Sacajawea felt or thought. They were never asked to contribute in that regard, so the book is really more about the trip than it is about York. It's a story that needs to be told, but I cannot support a story that seeks to raise up one people by downgrading another.

People do need to understand that African Americans, American Indians, and many other minority groups were involved in important events in USA from before the start, throughout history, and continue to be so nowadays, and this book could have been an important contribution to that. The story is simple and easy to follow, and the artwork by Alleanna Harris is excellent, but I cannot condone a book which, under the guise of seeking to set right the appalling wrongs of slavery and racism, ends up devaluing half the population - that is the female half.

I have to say that the unsupported assertion wherein York vows to protect Sacajawea in recognition of their supposedly common bond in slavery of one sort or another was disingenuous. Sacajawea was in no need to of anyone's protection. She was as tough as they come, and for York to be depicted as patronizing her by vowing to protect her (and then never even so much as mentioning it again) devalues both people and treats Sacajawea just as much as a possession as the very thing York was supposedly railing against: the fact that Sacajawea was bought by her 'husband' Charbonneau. I thought that this was disgraceful and inappropriate and for this reason I cannot commend this book.


Earthrise by James Gladstone, Christy Lundy


Rating: WORTHY!

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

Although I disagree with the author's thesis that the Apollo 8 photo of the Earth rising above the Moon taken on Christmas Eve of 1968 was "the photo that changed the world," I do consider this young children's book a worthy read. 1968 had not been a good year for the USA. It was the year that North Vietnam, breaking a truce for the end-of-January Tet holiday, showed the USA what they were truly capable of and what they were willing to sacrifice to unite their country. 1968 was a leap year, but the US took far too long to make that leap. It was also the year of the Prague Spring and Earthquakes in Sicily and the Philippines.

It was the year of the Olympics, and the year Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both shot and killed. It was the unfortunate year that that idiot Pope Paul tried to tell women that he, and not they, owned their bodies. It was the year that France detonated its first hydrogen bomb. It was the year that 150 members of New York Radical Women protested about the 'bombshells' being exploited in the Miss America 'Pageant', which no matter how they try to tart it up by labeling it a pageant and not a beauty contest, is still about shallow skin-depth looks.

It was the year the Boeing 747 jumbo jet was unveiled, a plane that allowed terrorists to kill more people at one time in an air crash than ever before. It was the year the Beatles released the White album and United Artists banned the 'Censored Eleven' - eleven cartoons deemed to be racist. And it was capped when Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders looped in a figure of eight around the Moon becoming the first humans to see the far side of it as well as traveling further away from Earth than any humans ever had before. The photos they took showed how tiny and undivided Earth is in terms of political boundaries: it's a planet we all have to share because there is nowhere else to go.

That's what this book is about, and it is well illustrated by Christy Lundy (and I have to add, commendably showcasing human diversity), and bright and colorful. I must say that the pages were sometimes awfully slow to load on my iPad. At first I thought this was because it was relatively old, but my wife's new iPad also took the same time to load, give or take, so it's the book's pages or it's the app (Bluefire Reader), not the iPad.

Anyway, the book tells the astronaut's story from liftoff on the venerable Saturn 5 rocket through their trip to the Moon (where we apparently leave them stranded because there's no return to Earth or splashdown!). Mostly it's about this one photograph that Bill Anders took, first of a black and white Earth on the way there, and then in color, of Earthrise, with the Earth half-illuminated by sunlight, the other half in darkness, creeping up above the bleak, gray, inhospitable Moon.

This wasn't actually the first Earthrise photograph taken! The first was taken by a robot in 1966 and showed much the same image, but the color image taken by humans is the one remembered. It was photographer Galen Rowell who made those hyperbolic claims for it being such a crucial image, but when you look at the actual Earth and how it progressed into 1969 and beyond, it's quite clear that this photograph ultimately influenced nothing.

There was no sea-change, only more of the same, so like I said, I do disagree with the author's assessment, but it does no harm to expose children to stirring imagery like this, and hopefully, in the long term, their astonishment and love of such imagery really will lead to an improvement among humanity in time! We can hope! I therefore commend this book as a worthy read.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Pig is Big on Books by Douglas Florian


Rating: WORTHY!

This was short, and sweet and entertaining, and will hopefully encourage children to emulate Pig and start reading. Pig reads all the time at every opportunity. I wouldn't commend going quite that far, although I do spend an inordinate amount of time reading myself. Well, not reading myself - reading books. You know what I mean! But anything that stirs a child's imagination constructively is always a good thing.

Putting on my child hat (it's always a good idea to have a child hat around!), I can say I enjoyed this colorful outing shamelessly! This book will definitely make reading sound cool or I'll eat my hat!


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Worst Book Ever by Beth Bacon, Jason Grube, Corianton Hale


Rating: WORTHY!

As I mentioned in my review of another book by this author, which is published alongside this one, there are so many books out there now in this era of self-publishing that it seems like it's only made things worse when we try to encourage younger readers to get started. That's why I admire Beth Bacon's valiant attempts to inject some humor, excitement, and adventure into the process. I've read three of her books now and liked them all. While superficially, they're very simple, and contain little text, they're really a very subtle bait and switch, luring kids in with one promise, and secretly getting them to read! I think it's a great idea.

This particular one delights in reveling how bad it is:- the worst book; one that would make a librarian's skin crawl. It's loud, it's obnoxious, it's unruly and ill-behaved. It's not a nice book. It doesn't play well with others. Meanwhile your child has read the book without even noticing they were...ugh...reading! I think it's a great idea.

I doubt there are many people who read a whole lot more than I do, so this book really isn't aimed at me, but I still enjoyed reading it, and I recommend this book as a worthy read.


Blank Space by Beth Bacon


Rating: WORTHY!

There are so many books out there now in this era of self-publishing that it seems like it's only made things worse when we try to encourage younger readers to get started. That's why I admire Beth Bacon's valiant attempts to inject some humor, excitement, and adventure into the process. I've read two of her books now and liked them both. While superficially, they're very simple, and contain little text, they're really a very subtle bait and switch, luring kids in which one promise and secretly getting them to read! I think it's a great idea despite the unfortunate initials of the book title! It's definitely not BS!

This particular one extols the virtues of the blank spaces in books! Normally I rail against wasted paper in books, because it means wasted trees, but even a curmudgeon like me can see the value of using the space artistically and as a lure to young readers. Even as it admires these swathes of unprinted page, the book runs off its mouth in print about how wonderful they are - and actually makes a good case! it also brings the readers along with it in sharing the delight of ignoring the text while reading the very text which tells us about the spaces! Brilliant!

I doubt there are many people who read a whole lot more than I do, so this book really isn't aimed at me, but I still enjoyed reading it, and I recomnend this book as a worthy read.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Anne Frank by Isabel Sánchez Vegara, Sveta Dorosheva


Rating: WORTHY!

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

This tells a story everyone should know. Like Jane Austen, Anne Frank was a writer from a young age and she also died tragically young, thereby robbing the world of yet another worthy voice, but other than that, her story was radically different from that of Jane Austen.

Escaping Nazi Germany to live in Holland, the Franks thought they were safe, but they were not. They spent endless months in the middle of the war living hidden in a factory, but they were betrayed and split-up, and taken to concentration camps. Anne died just a few weeks before the camp was liberated. Her father was the only one of the family who survived those horrors. Her diary, mercifully, had not been destroyed and her father saw to it that it was published so that everyone might know her story. This book tells that story admirably, and I commend it.


Jane Austen by Isabel Sánchez Vegara, Katie Wilson


Rating: WORTHY!

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

This is another in a series aimed at making well-known historical people well-known to young children and as such is an admirable effort, if sometimes misguided as my previous review made clear. This one, however was a better offering. Austen needs no introduction which is presumably why this book gets right down to it!

It tells of her childhood (she was born only a hundred fifty miles or so from where I was born!), as a young girl in a large family of mostly boys, her listening in on her father's tutoring classes, and her love of reading. Jane Austen took up writing at an early age and made some interesting and amusing efforts at it. Her The History of England, which I read and reviewed last month as part of a review of her minor works, was hilarious.

The book, perhaps because it is aimed at children, mentions nothing of the tragedy of her death at such a young age (she had barely entered her forties), right in the middle of writing a new novel. But the story this does tell is positive, and empowering for your girls, and hopefully at least a few who read this will be moved to become writers themselves.


Mother Teresa by Isabel Sánchez Vegara, Natascha Rosenberg


Rating: WARTY!

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

Illustrated in color but very simplistically by Natascha Rosenberg, this book tells the breathless story of Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu who was canonized in 2016 as Mother Teresa for at best, dubious miracles and her work among the suffering in Kolkata (aka Calcutta) in India.

I have to take issue with this book because Mother Teresa had far to many questionable practices to be worshipped as a saint, and this book mentions none of them. Wikipedia has a pretty decent coverage of this topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Mother_Teresa. Information can also be found from other sources.

The problem with this book is that it swallows the hype far too easily and does nothing to mediate it. I cannot commend a book about a woman who actually said, "I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot...I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people." while taking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts.


I Spy the 50 States by Sharyn Rosart, Sol Linero


Rating: WORTHY!

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

Fifty States in Fifty Pages! This is intended as a print book, but all I merit as an amateur reviewer is the ebook, which is fine because I love trees far more than I love print books, but it doesn't quite work as the author intended because one of the treats of the print version is a spy-hole through which you get a glimpse of the next page so you can try to guess at your next destination. These spy-holes are represented by little red circles in the ebook.

The tour begins in New England and proceeds from there and a linear and switchback fashion. On each double-page, a state is represented with many small and colorful pictures by artist Sol Linero, and the author writes a few words. I think she had the easier job! The words are a tease because you have to find three things she names, each starting with the same letter. This worked fine until we reached Vermont, the third state in the trip, where I was told to find a Sugar Shack, a snowshoe, and a sleigh. I found the first two, but there ain't no sleigh in Vermont! I had to wonder if the fishing lure was mistaken for a sleigh up in the top right corner, or if a snowboard was mistaken for one at lower left?

The rest of the pages I checked (not all of them!) I didn't see any such issue with, and maybe I'm blind that I can't see the sleigh. There are so many pictures, it might be easy to miss something. I haven't been to all fifty states, but I've visited many and lived in several, and it was nice to be reminded of some of the things I'd seen there. The book is fun, and colorful, and offers a lot of things to keep a child's interest. I commend it as a worthy read and a great distraction on a long trip!


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Cow Said Neigh! by Rory Feek


Rating: WORTHY!

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

This is a fun children's book aimed at getting kids to understand and experiment with sounds and to consider when the wrong sound is coming from somewhere. I can see it leading to a wider discussion - maybe even about what it means when the smoke alarm goes off. Is that the right kind of sound to hear? But it's not about that. It's about a very confused farm!

In a series of fun, bright, and colorful images, and some happy verse, we discover that several of the farm and domestic animals - and even the farmer himself, are getting some weird ideas about their station in life! The cow sees the horse and decides she would like to run free - so she starts neighing. The horse starts quaking, the duck starts baaing and this cascade effect ricochets around the whole farm! Will it ever end? Hopefully, otherwise it'll be a long night reading this to your little loved one!

I commend this for a fun and instructive read to young children.




Joann & Jane: Who Made This Mess by Brandon T Mayes, Taylor McDaniel


Rating: WORTHY!

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

If you were hoping to let your kids read this on a smart phone as an emergency distraction, it won't work! The picture is larger than the screen so you can't read the text, and you can't shrink the picture! You'd best plan on reading it only on a tablet or in the printed form.

The screens slide up and down, not side to side, but you can't catch the slide in the middle to maybe read the missing text, because for one thing, the text simply isn't there, and for another, the screen doesn't slide - it quantum jumps to the next image too quickly to ready anything even if there was text there to read at the margin.

That said, it's beautifully illustrated by Taylor McDaniel and engagingly written by Brandon Mayes, and it's wonderfully colored in more than one way, because this is a mixed race family which is very rare to see in a children's book even though such marriages have been steadily increasing in real life.

It's been half a century since mixed-race marriage stopped being illegal in the USA, and they're now at the highest proportion in US history, with one in six couples being mixed race, but it remains the case that Asians and Latinx are more likely to marry outside their race than black or white people are. Unsurprisingly, especially in the present political climate, twice as many Democrats as Republicans believe that mixed race marriage as a good thing.

But I digress! Sisters Joann and Jane can't figure out how their room got into such a mess. I'm sure many parents have heard this excuse many times, but here, it's a bit more complicated, it seems. While everyone is wondering how this happened and J&J are playing detective, the little beagle, known as London Dog, seems to be napping quite contentedly. I wonder why? I thought this was a great book and I commend it.