Showing posts with label Janina Rossiter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Janina Rossiter. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

1, 2, 3, Who's Cleaning the Sea? by Janina Rossiter

Rating: WORTHY!

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

I don't personally know Janina Rossiter, but we've exchanged an email now and then, and I've favorably reviewed several of her books on their merit, most specifically the 'Tovi the Penguin' books. She's branched out into a different concept here: teaching counting and at the same time offering some environmental awareness to young children. I believe this is something of a companion to her 'ABC' book, although I haven't read that one.

In an era where we find trash islands floating in the ocean and beached whales with pounds of plastic in their gut, and as National Geographic reported last October, your table salt most likely includes tiny plastic particles no matter where in the world you buy it, it hits any rational, caring person hard in the head as to how badly we're making a mess of our environment.

The book aims to counteract some of that by educating youngsters about this nightmare of a problem. It starts with the number one and finds a marine animal to represent each number in one way or another. Obviously the 8 is an octopus, but what number is a Jellyfish collecting plastic bags? Children will have fun finding out which other animals have different numbers of legs or fins, but more importantly, they will learn how bad our ocean is and how desperately it needs help.

Yes the ocean is huge, but so is the problem. We've been tossing modern trash into it for decades, and like climate change, it's way past time to stop making things worse. Maybe a kid who reads this will grow up to take charge of the problem and fix what we have so poorly managed. I commend this book as a worthy read.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tovi the Penguin Goes Trick or Treating by Janina Rossiter

Rating: WORTHY!

This is a bit late for Halloween, but I thought I'd already posted my review. Sorry! This is another in the Tovi series, nearly all of which I've liked (of the ones I've read). I liked this one as well. Not only was it an amusing story which told an interesting tale, and only a wee bit scary, it was also beautifully-drawn and brilliantly-colored by the author herself.

One of the delights is that it was legible on a smart phone so you can access it anywhere, and the double-page spreads, which all-too-often in the non-print version are given short shrift and end-up chopped into individual pages, thereby losing the sweep of the double image, were maintained here, and they looked gorgeous. I fully recommend this, not just for next Halloween, but for any time you want to curl up with your kid and a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy a warm tail!

Friday, September 22, 2017

The ABC Animal Picnic by Janina Rossiter

Rating: WORTHY!

Note that this is an advance review copy. In honor of full disclosure, I should say that I while I am not a personal friend of the author's, I was asked by her if I would review this one, and I freely confess that I was happy to do so having had on balance, such a good experience with her books in the past.

It would be easy to favor this one for the sake of past positive perspective (get used to the alliteration - it's in the book!), but I honestly believe she would not appreciate it if I did so on that basis, and I certainly would not rate a book positively were it one I had not felt was worth reading. Fortunately for both of us, she made it very easy for me to not only really like this one, but to feel sure it was a worthy read in terms of educational value for children.

It was gorgeously-illustrated to begin with, which engendered positive feelings about it before I had begun really getting into it. The illustrations - by the author - truly are remarkable. I know a few graphic novel artists who could take a page of out Janina Rossiter's artbook! I wish I had her talent.

Whereas many children's artists are content to draw simplistic pictures, these line drawings of assorted animals, and they were very assorted, were very realistic. Usually you get only mammals in a book like this but while fish and amphibians were not present, the often neglected insects were represented, as well as one from the even more often neglected, yet crucially important Annelida phylum. We also got molluscs and even Cnidaria! Try saying that when you have an allergy going on! These drawings honestly would not have looked out of place in a Victorian-era natural history book, although they were rather more playful here, than you'd find in a book like that!

The book is aimed at helping children with their ABCs, so each four-word sentence alliterates on the key letter. The first, for example, is Andy Ant Adores Apples. I don't normally do this, but I'm going to give a huge spoiler here: the last letter is Z! There I did it! Can you guess which animal that is? I also loved the British spelling of Yoghurt, although I am sure she didn't put that in there for my benefit!

Each illustration is set in a brightly-colored background that looks like water-color, and it makes the image even more striking. There are commonly-known animals and much lesser-known ones which was appreciated, and they were not all tied to mammals, although those were prevalent. To be honest, I'm quite sure that one of them is mythical, although I am equally sure that many of us wish it were not!

So overall I am happy to rate this as a worthy read and recommend it: buy it for the educational value, Keep it for the artwork. If you can interest your kids in learning to draw like this, then you will definitely kit them out to have a career as a children's book illustrator, graphic novel artist or whatever they want! The sky isn't even the limit - and isn't that what we all want for our children?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tovi the Penguin Goes to the Seaside by Janina Rossiter

Rating: WORTHY!

I think the only Tovi adventure I haven't read is one where he goes into space, so quite clearly I'm into Rossiter (and if you can name the 1952 sci-fi novel that play on words comes from you get penguin points). I thought it hilarious that penguins would want to go to sunning themselves on the beach, so this one was a must-read for me. The penguins settle in the shade of a shady hummock and fall asleep, only to find themselves surrounded by saltwater from the the incoming tide! Oops!

Fortunately the tide is already going out when they wake, and the penguins keep their head. They discover a warning sign that fell down. Responsible little Sphenisciformes that they are, they replace the sign and make sure it stays up this time. I was all in favor of them taking the beach authority to court over this (I'm kidding!). I do have to say though, that I was rather disappointed that this didn't do more to educate young children of the dangers of the ocean and too much sun. It's never too early to educate children and bring them up to speed on safety as long as you don't scare them into immobility with dire warnings.

That gripe aside, the story was, as usual, charming and colorful, and actually eminently readable on my smart phone, so it's very portable! I recommend it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tovi the Penguin Goes Away for Christmas by Janina Rossiter

Rating: WORTHY!

I've had a mixed relationship with Tovi, but who can resist a good Christmas story? This one was a good one - and had a nice message - that friends are more important than presents, although presents are good too! Tovi and his two friends are evidently quite well-off, because they have a winter retreat they can visit for Xmas. I guess they have a nice income from licensing their image to the Linux people and the Batman franchise...!

The penguins discover on Xmas morning that Santa hasn't delivered any presents! Rather than dissolve into blubbering and inertia, they press on and make a joyous dinner, and play games and have a good old time. When they arrive home, they discover that Santa has indeed paid them a visit - he just didn't know they were away from home. Not only did they have a great time, now they get to open presents. I found this to be a fun story, and with an important message, which is why I'm rating this one a worthy read.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tovi the Penguin Goes to London by Janina Rossiter

Rating: WORTHY!

Another in a series, the first of which (at least the first one I read!) I reviewed here. I wasn't that impressed with Tovi going camping. I was more impressed with this one.

It's raining in Tovi's neighborhood, so in order to get away from it, they decide to go to London. What? I admit that the weather has typically been nice whenever I've visited London, no fog or rain to speak of, but England isn't exactly known for being arid, so I'm not sure this was a charmed plan, quite frankly! But hey, it's penguins. Maybe penguin logic is rather different from ours.

I love the illustrations in this volume. The penguins are far too cute for their own good. Guess what? When they get to London, it's raining! But they press on anyway, as penguins are wont to do in situations like this. They visit the London Eye, and Tower Bridge (and yes, they get the name right - it's often mistakenly called London Bridge, but it's named after the Tower of London which sits next door. London Bridge is actually in Arizona as it happens....

They visit Big Ben tower, but they evidently don't actually see Big Ben, which is the bell ensconced within the tower. They only see the tower itself which is typically misnamed 'Big Ben'. They manage to visit the place and then take "the tube" to Heathrow where they have a quick cuppa before heading home where the sun is shining. Great trip! I recommend this one.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tovi the Penguin Goes Camping by Janina Rossiter

Title: Tovi the Penguin Goes Camping
Author: Janina Rossiter (no website found)
Publisher: Amazon
Rating: WARTY!

Tovi the Penguin is a series of books in which Tovi is as Tovi does. In this particular richly-colored adventure, he goes camping with two penguin friends. Does that make them frienguins? Sporting packed and rather heavy-looking backpacks, they hike off into the pine forest and eventually find the camping site.

It's dark when they get there, but this doesn't deter them. They have to raise their tent if they want warmth and shelter for the night, but they're ready and capable, and soon they have the tent erected and a nice fire to sit around. Everything is perfect isn't it? Except for the odd noise they can hear as they're about to drift off to sleep.

What is that crack-crack-crack? Though the penguins are nervous, they have to find out. The source of the noise turned out to be highly improbable, especially given that they hear it in the middle of the night from a creature which isn't active at that time of day.

I had thought that this book might offer something of educational value with regard to camping. I mean why set it in a camping milieu if not to teach kids a bit about that? If it's just to show them they can rely on friends and don't need to be scared of every little noise they hear, then that's all well and good, but such a story could have been set anywhere. Why waste such a golden opportunity?

I understand that not every children's book needs to be a lesson in field craft (or whatever the implied topic is, but why waste an opportunity to impart something of value? They could have been shown arriving in daylight and hastening to erect the tent before it gets dark. We could have seen a bit about how the tent is put up, and how they start the fire, and how they keep the fire from spreading and starting a brush fire. We could have seen something about the wisdom of not keeping food in the tent which might attract ants. As it was I felt let down and I felt children would be too, especially older ones in the recommended age range.

I know it was aimed at two- to six-year-olds, which seems like an odd spread of age to me, and two-year-olds are not going to get much out of it in terms of camp craft, but six year olds certainly can, and this story, beautiful as it was to look at, failed children at the older end of that scale by not delivering enough in my opinion. Even two-year-olds can appreciate being tickled as you tell them not to let ants in the tent, and they can hide under a blanket and pretend it's a tent.

I really felt this story could have and should have been much more than it was, and I can't therefore in good faith recommend it. I hope the author will be more imaginative and inventive in future volumes in the series because this has the potential to be so much more.