Tag: picture books


Guest Post: Tovi the Penguin Goes Camping vs. Vicki Goes Camping

Posted 10 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in guest post, Reviews

The moon, garbage trucks, and books. These are a few of my 2-year-old son’s favorite things. The French poet in him will babble on about the moon and the stars all night long. The rough and tumble kid in him will play with garbage trucks for eleventy million years before getting sick of them.
 

Lucky for me, he still likes to settle down with a good book, giving me a few moments of peace. When he’s not eating zombie books, one series he loves is Tovi the Penguin. Full disclosure: I’m friends with the author. While my toddler can navigate computers surprisingly well (check my YouTube history for a sample), I doubt he’d be able to find this wonderful collection of books without Mommy’s help.

 
Just like April doesn’t fancy herself a writer (even though she wrote a story for my anthology, That’s Paris!), I don’t fancy myself a book reviewer. So instead I figured I’d do a little comparison: Tovi the Penguin Goes Camping vs. Vicki Goes Camping.


Right off the bat, Tovi gets points for actually going camping. I’ve only ever gone camping against my will, usually on family vacations. The only exception was during my hippie phase, where I’d camp out after a Phish show and hang out with people who partied often and bathed rarely. So Tovi wins for actually packing up and heading into the wilderness. Then again, he’s a penguin so I’m guessing being outdoors doesn’t bother him as much as it bothers this city girl. Round #1: Tovi: 1, Vicki: 0.


 

Next, they set up camp and eat marshmallows. Again, Tovi wins this round. I love me some marshmallows, but not when I’m camping. You want me to pick up a STICK that’s been on the GROUND and then eat off of it? And the thing you want me to eat is mushy and sticky and there’s not a sink around? No thanks. Round #2: Tovi: 2, Vicki: 0.

Then, Tovi and his friends think they see a bear. A BEAR? See, this is why I don’t go camping. One time I went camping in upstate New York with my dad and brother. The rangers handed us a pamphlet warning us to keep the food locked in the trunk of the car, as opposed to our tent, so the bears couldn’t get it. So let me get this straight: I’m OUTSIDE, with NO FOOD, and a VERY STRONG POSSIBILITY of seeing a bear, and I’m somehow supposed to think this is enjoyable? Points to Tovi on this one, too, for toughing out the night and not trying to steal his dad’s car and drive back to civilization (not that I know anything about that). Round #3: Tovi: 3, Vicki: 0.

Tovi and his friends tough out the night, and decide to leave first thing in the morning. Finally a decision I can get on board with! Round #4: Tovi: 0, Vicki: 0.

So if the question was “Who’s a better camper?” the answer is: Tovi wins 3-0 compared to me.

 

If the question is, “Which children’s book does Vicki enjoy reading to her kids?” the answer is: Tovi the Penguin! Though I think I might have more in common with Tovi the Penguin Goes to London or Tovi the Penguin Goes Away for Christmas.

 
Links:
 
 



About Vicki Lesage: An American author, living in Paris
A midwest native, I currently live in Paris, where I indulge in wine when I’m not busy working or having babies. IT Director by day, I squeeze in writing wherever I can, from blog posts to books. My common theme is complaining about France but as an equal opportunist I complain about plenty of other things as well. I love fondue, wine, math, and zombies. Everything’s better with zombies.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Guest Post: The Very Hungry Zombie

Posted 6 August, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in guest post, Reviews

Guess who’s here today?! One of my favorite people on the internet! Vicki Lesage! I’m so super excited that she’s agreed to write a delightful side by side review of two classic (or soon to be classic) children’s books! 

The Very Hungry Zombie
Review by: Vicki Lesage
The Eric Carle classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, follows a caterpillar through the stages of metamorphosis: birth, killer munchies, passing out in his cocoon, and emerging as a beautiful butterfly. See kids – science is fun!
I loved the book as a child and my toddler has the same adoration for it. He excitedly flips each page (when he’s not using the thick cardboard as a teething ring, that is) and animatedly counts along with ONE apple, TWO pears, THREE plums… Then he gets distracted since he can’t count higher than that.

 

The Very Hungry Zombie, A Parody takes this children’s book to the next level, which is what any good zombie tale does, really. It takes everyday life and goes, BAM! Flesh-eating, walking dead IN YOUR FACE. Makes you rethink everything. No more stuffing your face with Doritos and passing out on the couch, hoping you wake up as a beautiful butterfly instead of a lazy bum with orange Dorito fingers. You’ve got to fight for your life lest your brain become an appetizer for the living dead.
Admittedly, the theme is a bit heavy for a kids’ book. Luckily, my son is still young enough he hasn’t really noticed the difference between the two books. The zombie eats ONE astronaut, TWO clowns, THREE football players… it feels pretty much the same. Once he understands more, I’ll have to pull Zombieout of the rotation unless I want to scare the crap out of him.
Trying to decide which book is right for you? Here’s a breakdown:
Story: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Both make for a fun read-along, where you can exaggerate certain phrases and use different tones of voice. Zombie is funnier but Caterpillar is more realistic. It’d be way easier to find four strawberries than four pro-wrestlers who’d fall victim to a zombie.
 
In the Zombie Apocalypse, pro-wrestlers are one of your safest bets.
Illustrations: Tie
Both Caterpillar and Zombie have colorful illustrations that stand the test of time.
Pretty butterfly! Pretty zombies!
Scare Factor: The Very Hungry Zombie
This is a no-brainer (see what I did there?) – of course the zombie book is going to be scarier. There’s gore on nearly every page, whereas Caterpillar’s only fear-inducing part is his intense bellyache after gorging on everything under the sun. Which is admittedly somewhat scary. Is he going to explode? How long will his tummyache last? What if he’s too sick to watch the finale of Game of Thrones? But not as scary as Zombie.
A pile of brains is way scarier than a leaf (and I should know – I ate sheep’s brain soup in Morocco and I’m still trying to get the taste out of my mouth). But what’s worse is the zombie isn’t wearing any shoes. 90% of the living have disgusting feet; the living dead are sure to be in dire need of a pedicure.
Age-Appropriateness: Tie
Caterpillar is a timeless classic that even adults can enjoy as they read it to their children. 100 times in a row. Which is what your kids will make you do. Zombie is age-appropriate in the sense that it’s not actually billed as a children’s book; it’s a book for hipsters and geeks who love zombies and think it’s funny to have this book on their shelf, likely next to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and The Walking Deadgraphic novels.
The Book Itself: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Both are board books but the pages of Zombie are a bit skimpy. If you’re looking for a book that will withstand the impending Zombie Apocalypse, the sturdier pages of Caterpillarare a better bet.
 
My son could tear this book apart faster than a zombie eats fresh brains.

The verdict? If you have kids and want a book that will survive a zombie invasion, go with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. If you are looking for a gift for that zombie-lover on your list or want a conversation piece, go with The Very Hungry Zombie.

Thanks again, Vicki! What’s the verdict, Readers? 

 

About Vicki Lesage:An American author, living in Paris
A midwest native, I currently live in Paris, where I indulge in wine when I’m not busy working or having babies. IT Director by day, I squeeze in writing wherever I can, from blog posts to books. My common theme is complaining about France but as an equal opportunist I complain about plenty of other things as well. I love fondue, wine, math, and zombies. Everything’s better with zombies.

April: I can highly recommend her fabulous first book Confessions of a Paris Party Girl and I’m excited to read the new sequel Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer. (I make no commission from these links.) 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Friday in the Forest: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

Posted 25 July, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
by: Verna Aardema | pictures by: Leo and Diane Dillon
So this is my attempt at something different. I loved this book growing up. I think that the illustrations are brilliant. I’m sure that you have your preconceived notion of my voice – so brace yourself because you’re probably going to be weirded out. I am by no means a professional narrator, nor am I particularly fabulous at reading aloud. C’est la vie. Enjoy! 
Credits: A West African Tale – retold by Verna Aardema
pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon
Text and pictures copyright 1975
Awards: 1976 Caldecott Medal Award Winner
Reading Rainbow’s 101 Best Children’s Books (1976)
Narrated: Me! 
Source: Purchased
As a technical aside, I do not recommend WeVideo. There are no exports or downloads without a fee – but I was over invested in this project time-wise to redo it somewhere else. (I didn’t pay, this is just embedded.) 
 
Whatcha think, Readers? #WeNeedDiverseReads? I’m a little weird about the passing of the blame down the animal chain – but seriously, who likes mosquitoes? Also, maybe the moral is that if you tell lies baby owls will die.

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Guest Post: Twaddle and How to Avoid It

Posted 16 July, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in guest post

April’s Note: Today we have Monika from A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall, she has excellent taste in children’s books. I love this post so much that I begged her to use it here. 

I take her advice so seriously that any time my daughter requests (for me to purchase) what’s obviously a mass produced book (twaddle) designed to sell more television characters, etc. I say ‘no’ and we find a compromise. 

So there’s no ‘Dora Saves the Day’ or ‘My Little Pony’s Great Adventure’ in my house. Enjoy! 

Let us know in the comments what you think of twaddle and the such. How do you choose children’s books?


Children’s Literature

I am so excited that children’s literature is one of the Armchair BEA topics this week! This is something I’ve been wanting to post about for a while, especially since I get a lot of requests to review children’s books.

When it comes to children’s literature, there is a word that describes what I avoid:

Now, before you protest: Dr. Seuss books, Edward Lear’s nonsense poems, and the like are not examples of twaddle! These works employ clever word plays, rhyming schemes, and use of rhythm. They don’t talk down to children; they encourage and stretch their growing minds.
Author Catherine Levison says, “. . . dumbed-down literature is easy to spot. When you’re standing in the library and pick up modern-day, elementary-level books, you’re apt to see short sentences with very little effort applied to artistically constructing them to please the mind. . . Gifted authors bring images alive with their choice of words.” (Defining Twaddle, May 30, 2007)
You know, no matter how tired I am and how often I’m asked to read Corduroy, for example, (and that is often), I love that book. I always find it sweet and charming. I find things in the illustrations I never noticed before. But if a book makes me wonder if I’m killing precious brain cells, or the illustrations look cheap, or the thought of reading the book more than a handful of times makes me want to scream or roll my eyes or implode, I know my money and my time spent reading to my child is better spent on other books.
A tiny sampling of our favorite examples of twaddle-free children’s literature for the 0-5 age range:
There are so many incredible children’s titles out there, but the books in the photo above are some of the stories my daughter loves the most. Simply Charlotte Mason has a wonderful list organized by age, as does Charlotte Mason Home Education. I reference these lists often when looking for new books to add to our library.
I use classics such as these as my model when selecting newer children’s titles (and when considering books for review). A couple more recently published children’s titles that meet the “twaddle-free” criteria are:
The time spent as a young child not yet able to read on one’s own is very short. I’m okay with my daughter choosing some trivial reads when she’s older whenever she’d like some lighter reading… I know I enjoyed plenty of that as a kid myself (still do as an adult)! But I hope that being exposed to high quality books from the start will help her balance her future reading choices.
This post originally appeared as a part of Armchair BEA 2013 (June 1, 2013) on A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Guest Review: Rub-a-Dub-Dub

Posted 28 June, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in guest post, Reviews

Rub-a-Dub-Dub by: Page O’Rourke
 
Guest Review by: Daniel
Sponsored by: Ranger Tire Paint
Source: Gifted to me by a friend. I am aware of no financial benefit so get ready for an honest review.
Synopsis: (Goodreads)
Toddlers discover all the wonderful fun that they can have at bathtime as they enjoy the antics of a baby soaping up, shampooing his hair, splashing around, and preparing for bed.
 
The Baby’s Review
My son loves this book. He keeps turning from page to page with the easy to turn hardboard pages. The constant appearance of the dog and the rubber ducky mean that my son will point at the book and exclaim “Duck!” or “Dog!” He is entertained and keeps going back to it when I offer it to him.
 
The Adult’s Review
The delight started in organizing this review when I saw the synopsis has no plot, just allow “toddlers to discover all the wonderful fun that they can have at bathtime” a complete lie. The reader is actually introduced to a never-defined age child who is instructed by his Mom to take a bath to which the child dutifully complies by running a bath, bathing himself including shampooing his hair, towels himself dry, and is finally kissed good night by his Mom. The Mom character is never seen in any of the illustrations.
 
I am not a helicopter parent by any means, but I am not sure at what age I would let a child run their own bath and on top of that not check on the child. I do not want my son who can already throw himself into the bath tub to think: Oh, I can bathe myself!
 
Illustrations
The illustrator has never been in a modern day house before, and just to make sure this was not a Golden Book 1945 edition I checked its publishing date: March 24, 1993. The importance of this cannot be understated. Our protagonist is running his own bath water and getting into a claw foot tub, except the bathwater is turned on and off by a single handle.
 
 
 
No modern day plumbing works this way, a singular spigot with singular handle points to one of three conclusions
  1. The temperature of the pipe is as cold as it is from the mainline,
  2. The temperature is set inside the walls with a joining of hot and cold amounts to create the perfect temperature for the child,
  3. This is a max flow, temperature controlling handle.
All of which mean the Mom in this story is an even worse parent than I originally thought of her when she told her son to get into the water.
  1. If the water in the bath tub is cold, does the Mom not worry about the son’s core temperature, babies exude more heat, but even in the face of a mother’s bond to their child, I am pretty sure she is trying to get him to a hypothermic state,
  2. In this case, the Mom bought a house with this as a feature and is not worried about resale value, because the first person who brings their wife will run the water and go, oh, not hot enough for my wife. So, the Mom has no foresight.
  3. The Mom has left the child to adjust water that ranges from cold to scalding, meaning he can burn himself or still experience hypothermia from item 1.
Finally, the other thing that bothered me about the illustrations is the dog under the claw foot tub. I could not figure out why until I went back to my drawing school days. Using relative measurements from the illustrations, I identified the problem: the illustrator just likes to include the dog. 
 
As you can from the analysis below, the kid is getting into the bathtub on his tip toes, assuming a shoe size of 5.5 inches that means the claw foot tub is 5.5 inches high (please do not write me about the fact that the child’s foot is at an angle and would thus make it less than 5.5 inches, because I am trying to give benefit of doubt to the illustrator – but you would be right, especially if the angle of that foot appears to be at 45 degrees.) 
 
In the second panel, the dog’s head is the same size as the kid’s foot, meaning that if we use a sphere for a headspace, the dog can squeeze his head under the bathtub, but it would be a tight fit, and why would the dog want to do that? 
 
That is what bothers me about the dog being under the bath tub in the last panel.
 
 
 
Final Review
It is a good book for kids, my son loves flipping through the colors and the side-kick duck and dog were fun. 
 
I cannot endorse telling a child to strip, run their own water, toss chemicals into the water for bubbles, clean their own body, dry themselves, and put themselves in bed without any parental supervision.  
 
Get this book, but make sure you talk to your kids about bathroom safety.

Thanks again, Daniel! Great point about that dog being rather out of proportion and for pointing out one of the unexpected worst mothers in the annals of children’s literature.
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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Small Fry Saturday: Guest Review: The Monster at the End of This Book

Posted 14 June, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in guest post, Reviews

Inspired by Kelly at The Well-Read Red Head.
Reviews of books for children, tolerated by adults.

The Monster at the End of This Book by: Jon Stone, Illustrated by: Michael J. Smollin

 
Guest Review by: Daniel
Sponsored by Ranger Tire Paint
 
Source: Gifted to me by a friend. I am aware of no financial benefit so get ready for an honest review.
Synopsis: (Goodreads)
Many adults name this book as their favorite Little Golden Book. Generations of kids have interacted with lovable, furry old Grover as he begs the reader not to turn the page—for fear of a monster at the end of the book. “Oh, I am so embarrassed,” he says on the last page . . . for, of course, the monster is Grover himself! 
 
Synopsis: Daniel (because I have no idea why the synopsis by Goodreads does not explain what happens and oh a spoiler alert should be added.)
Lovable, Furry Old Grover stars in a book where he interacts directly with you, the reader, as both of you confront the title’s problem: there is a monster at the end of this book.
 
The Baby’s Review
Son loves this book. He maniacally turns the pages, sometimes two at a time. Why not, the illustrations are fun and Grover presents a lovable character to find out what happens next with.
 
The Adult’s Review
Buy this book before it gets banned, seriously, it is a great book and I am sure someone in the literary community will get around creating a twitter campaign to ban all books that anyone finds interesting. Hashtag: reading-with-children-should-be-boring-and-have-nothing-for-adults-to-ponder (is this how the Twitter works?).
 
Grover’s character displays everything we need to know about him on the cover, he is lovable, not just because the book says so, but the illustration conveys it; Grover has no rigid or straight lines, he has adorable larger than necessary eyes, evoking the Disney effect, he smiles directly at you and says: “Hello Everybody!” Grover on the first page evokes the everyman. Name for me a cover that has this much information about the character and has as much love directed at him as this one; it is that good.
 
Grover is the tragic character protagonist in direct conflict with the antagonist: you the Reader. Grover knows what a monster’s definition is, something he has every right to be afraid of and thus, begins a propaganda campaign to dissuade the Reader from continuing the turning of pages. The Reader’s motivation is to reach the end of the book and made me question my own logic in forcing a lovable character to confront something he pleads he does not want to. My conclusion is that as the antagonist, I am helping the protagonist face his fear, which in the end Grover does and experiences the character development that moves him to be the protagonist.
 
The fourth wall breaking is quite original for an illustrated story that I have read and smacked of Jim Henson actually being involved with this project; because there is no way a children’s book author would take the kind of chance with a known character that occurs in this book. I love Jim Henson, he hated the establishment and it shows in simple stories like these, because it is so different. I looked up the author, John Stone, and sure enough, he was a writer and executive producer for Sesame Street working with Jim Henson.
 
Illustrations
Michael J. Smollin gets Grover and how to convey a lovable, furry character and create great environments from which to tell a story. The above illustration is from the first page after the copyright page, it does a callback to the copyright page, how brilliant. Again name another book that starts on the copyright page. There are no straight lines to Grover, just a lovable character who emotes exactly what he is thinking and allows the Reader to portray Grover while reading it to their loved one.
 
 
 
Mr. Smollin thought about Grover’s efforts and the reader is constantly reminded of them: the books pages never quite close. In the above example we see Grover erecting a wall to stop the reader, when the page is turned, the effects of turning a page are seen: the bricks are squeezed between two sheets of paper, the overspill crashes through on the top portion and cascades in the appropriate angle. It is just great.
 
I have read this book with my son a number of times and appreciate the intricacy of the drawings, the philosophical ramifications of making someone do something they do not (I am a father after all), and just a great character in Grover. Seriously, kids love it, get it read it to them, before the thought police take this one away.
 
Thanks, Daniel for an insightful review of a book for small people. What about you, Reader? Do you have any children’s book recommendations with subversive messages?
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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Small Fry Saturday: The Enormous Crocodile

Posted 3 May, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Inspired by Kelly at The Well-Read Red Head.
Reviews of books for children, tolerated by adults.

The Enormous Crocodile by: Roald Dahl

Source: Public Library (I will probably purchase it soon.)

Synopsis: (Goodreads)
The Enormous Crocodile is incredibly hungry-and incredibly greedy. His favorite meal is a plump, juicy little child, and he intends to gobble up as many of them as he can! But when the other animals in the jungle join together to put an end to his nasty schemes, the Enormous Crocodile learns a lesson he won’t soon forget. Dahl’s wicked humor is as delightful as ever in this new, larger edition of a hilarious favorite. 

I love Roald Dahl. My daughter is three. My favorites are Matilda and The Witches, so I figure that she might be a little too young for those two. I went out seeking something that might not be as scary and traumatic, so I settled on The Enormous Crocodile… without reading it first. The enormous crocodile is INTENT on gobbling up as many as juicy little children as he can get his teeth on! In the usual Roald Dahl spirit it’s a little dark, a little horrifying, and ALL fun. 

I thought that The Girl might find this scary or terrifying – but by the end she was delighted and laughed her head off. None of the children got eaten – the enormous crocodile is thwarted by the various jungle animals that he yaps about his plans to gobble up children to. The end of the story climaxes with Trunky the Elephant swinging the Crocodile by his tail and launching him into the sun, where he ‘sizzles up like a sausage.’ I read it, paused, and then she started giggling like a maniac. 

My biggest ‘complaint’ about this book is a little long to read in one sitting – but not completely prohibitively so. It’s also a great selection for early readers.

Are there any pictures books that you don’t totally hate, Reader? What about ones that are a little bit dark?

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Small Fry Saturday: ‘Dangerously Ever After’

Posted 18 January, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews


Reviews of books for children, tolerated by adults.
Dangerously Ever After by: Dashka Slater, Illustrated by: Valeria Docampo

Synopsis: (Goodreads)
Princess Amanita laughs in the face of danger. Brakeless bicycles, pet scorpions, spiky plants–that’s her thing. So when quiet Prince Florian gives her roses, Amanita is unimpressed . . . until she sees their glorious thorns! Now she must have rose seeds of her own. But when huge, honking noses grow instead, what is a princess with a taste for danger to do?

For readers seeking a princess with pluck comes an independent heroine who tackles obstacles with a bouquet of sniffling noses. At once lovely and delightfully absurd, here’s a story to show how elastic ideas of beauty and princesses can be.


The illustrations in this book are gorgeous. 

I’m always looking for books with non-conventional princesses because The Girl is obsessed with the quite conventional princess (I refer to them, to my husband, as ‘those Disney bitches’ … but that could consume an entire post.), so I’m forever on the quest to find a princess that will suit both of us. It hasn’t happened yet.

I like this book well enough, for a picture book, the Noses that grow instead of roses are absurd, but if I think they’re absurd and they don’t get a laugh out of The Girl, I have no use for absurdity. I’ve read other reviews that found Princess Amanita to be snotty and rude, so allow me to be snotty and rude for a moment, I found her behavior to be assertive – she knew what she wanted and she was very direct about it. That’s something I like in a princess. 

Other reviews critical of this book point out Amanita’s love of dangerous things, the brakeless bicycle, shards of glass, thorns… these reviewers fret over giving their little girls ‘ideas’. I’m going out on my feminist limb again and I’m going to say that if Prince Amanita had an affinity for scorpions, there wouldn’t be so many hands wrung over it. No parent should read a book to their children that they feel uncomfortable with and it’s not for me to judge what other people find acceptable for their children. But to me, it seems clear that these are devices on par with the ‘noses’ in creating a story and a character. Once The Girl cuts the brakes to her bicycle and starts riding without a helmet, well maybe I’ll stop and take stock of what a terrible influence that Princess Amanita has been. 

The problem that I have with this book is purely that my child doesn’t connect with it. We read it every now and then, she got it for Christmas and maybe the sheer unexpected awesomeness of Rosie Revere, Engineer combined with my super-high hopes for this book are what makes it fall flat. We’ll keep pulling it out every now and then though, probably at my suggestion and not hers, in hopes that anything will get her away (even a little bit) from those Disney bitches. 

Edit: After writing this post (perhaps The Girl is psychic) she requested this book by name! Maybe she connects with it more than I think. Still no giggles at the noses though…

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Small Fry Saturday: Rosie Revere, Engineer

Posted 28 December, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Small Fry Saturday: Rosie Revere, EngineerRosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Published by Harry N. Abrams on September 3rd 2013
Genres: General, Humorous Stories, Science & Technology
Pages: 32
Goodreads
five-stars

Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal—to fly—Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her contraption doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success: you can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit. From the powerhouse author-illustrator team of Iggy Peck, Architect comes Rosie Revere, Engineer, another charming, witty picture book about believing in yourself and pursuing your passion.

Inspired by The Well-Read Redhead
 
Reviews of books for children, tolerated by adults.
I love this book. Let me repeat. I love this book and I loathe picture books. 

This is a book about the glory of failures, the importance of trying, and the necessity of believing in yourself. Rosie revels in inventing, building, and engineering, there’s not a princess in sight. The writing has the lilt and flow of a Dr. Seuss book. The illustrations are beautifully done and capture the spirit of the characters perfectly. 

Rosie is a great book for girls probably from 2-6, The Girl loves it and we’ve already had to read it several times a day since she received it on Christmas Eve. Emotions of frustration of failure are turned to the triumph of failure in a way that children can relate to. There’s enough silliness in the book (all of the inventions seem to involve cheese) to appeal to children, but not enough to make it intolerable to humbug adults like me. 

Great-great Aunt Rose teaches Rosie a fine lesson when her cheese-copter crashes after hovering for only a few moments.

“”Your brilliant first flop was a raging success!
Come on, let’s get busy and on to the next!”
She handed a notebook to Rosie Revere,
who smiled at her aunt as it all became clear.
Life might have failures, but this was not it.
The only true failure can come if you quit.”

Great message for all children, but especially girls. It’s easy to read with high enthusiasm and excitement. I’ve not read the original Iggy Peck, Architect but I may have to pick it up next time Little Miss Princess starts to rake on my nerves. 

Definitely, definitely check it out.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Small Fry Saturday: ‘My Name Is Not Isabella’

Posted 14 December, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Inspired by The Well-Read Redhead. Reviews of books for children, tolerated by adults.

In this age of mass-produced nonsense for adults (I’m looking at you Fifty Shades of Grey) is it surprising that we have so many picture books hastily put together with characters that have been branded and marketed? Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf wrote a brilliant piece on twaddle in children’s literature. Well meaning friends and family members will often drop off books for The Girl starring Dora, Minnie Mouse, and Disney Princesses (the worst). More often than not I skim through the books and find that they’re worse than useless, they’re a waste of time and brain cells. (I’m still looking at you, Fifty Shades of Grey) So I dispatch these well-meant gifts directly to the GoodWill bag that resides in my front closet, post-haste.

My point is this. I’m always searching for age-appropriate material for The Girl. Preferably age-appropriate material that doesn’t want to make me participate in ritual suicide, which makes it a much taller order. As a general rule I do not like picture books, alas! The Girl is three, so she does and I love her and want her to love reading as much as I do. 
So! My first recommendation: 
My Name is Not Isabella by: Jennifer Fosberry, Illustrated by: Mike Litwin

I enjoy this book. Isabella is a little girl who refuses to be called by her own name and instead imagines being a host of respected and influential women throughout history. It gets repetitive at times, but not so much that it hinders the flow of the narrative. This also makes it super easy to memorize so you can read it in the dark in a vain attempt to get your own wee one to fall asleep before you have to read Goodnight, Moon (I hate Goodnight, Moon) for the six-zillionth time. 
Sally Ride, Annie Oakley, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Mommy are all included in this little girl’s daydream. In the back there are actual photos and brief biographies of the women portrayed. This is an excellent resource in an attempt to raise a strong girl OR boy. The Girl went to stay with my cousin who has a four year old boy and I sent this title with her, when I went to pick The Girl up, I found that my cousin’s boy had fallen in love with this book too. I bought him My Name Is Not Alexander, which I assume is written from a boy’s perspective. 
The illustrations are bright and cheerful and there are details that tiny eyes notice more than I do. I’d say that this book will get plenty of mileage from kids 2 – 6 years old. I only extend it to six because of the biographies in the back, I think it’s likely that this book will later become a jumping off point in discussions about these women. 
Excellent. Put down Dora’s Christmas Adventure and go get this instead. 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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