3.75 Very cute, with a good dose of unexpected humor and tons of information about coral reefs, ocean animals and ecosystems in general. Probably a gre3.75 Very cute, with a good dose of unexpected humor and tons of information about coral reefs, ocean animals and ecosystems in general. Probably a great one for classrooms....more
I think this would be excellent for classrooms, for teaching children about concrete poetry or showing them that poetry in general doesn't have to beI think this would be excellent for classrooms, for teaching children about concrete poetry or showing them that poetry in general doesn't have to be stuffy, serious, or full of bad rhymes. Beyond that, though, I think older audiences will find the poems too simplistic and sometimes pointless, and may not be as engaged. ...more
It's not news to anyone who's hung around my blog/vlog for any length of time that I love the work of Ben Hatke. (Also not news to anyone who read th It's not news to anyone who's hung around my blog/vlog for any length of time that I love the work of Ben Hatke. (Also not news to anyone who read that intro, so. . .) I've talked about this many, many times, and pushed his books on many, many people, both online and IRL. So of course, I'm always looking forward to whatever's coming up next, confident in the belief that whatever it is is sure to brighten my shelves. And Little Robot is no exception to that rule.
Little Robot follows in the tradition of plucky young female protagonists and their oddball companions, set by Julia's House for Lost Creatures and the Zita the Spacegirl series. Unlike Hatke's previous books, Little Robot is nearly wordless (and of the words that make it to the page, most of them are in robot, so...), though its no less full of story as a result.
If there's anything Hatke excels at, it's injecting as much personality as possible into every frame, every character, every inanimate object -- and yes, I mean that literally. More than once, this man has made me have feels about rocks, literal rocks with eyeballs, and monsters, and what may have been a giant coil of hair or wire or something, I don't even know, but it, too. And yes, robots.
Hatke is an excellent anthropomorphosizererer, skillfully drawing the reader into caring about even the smallest and most unimposing of creatures/creations, with an immediacy that is impressive. You can't help but fall for our little unnamed adventurer and her newfound robot companion, and once you've decided to care about them, well, you may as well care about the pile of broken machinery in the junkyard, too, right? And that perky little fixer robot-bug-thingy, he's quite adorable now, isn't he? Hatke draws you into their magical little world so seemlessly that it seems obvious that you'd love these things. Of course you want to join our lonely little adventurer girl, let her lead you on explorations and discoveries, and bring smiles to each others faces.
Lest you think Hatke's books are just cute, but inconsequential, they most certainly are not. The robots and their nameless human girl may draw you in with their sweetness, but there's depth there, too. There's a loneliness and sense of longing to the story that grounds it and makes it stick with you. I think at the core of all of Hatke's stories, there's a thread of "finding your people," even if those "people" aren't people. They're all about finding your place, your companion(s), your way in the world. Hatke's characters stumble upon each other by chance and it's as if a missing piece has been found; they fit together perfectly. It's charming and sweet and funny and real, and I think you can see why I end up singing his praises so often... And this time around, I was getting double-feels because it reminded me of another nearly-wordless, unlikely robot companion story, Robot Dreams, that is just one of the bestweirdestawesomest things I've ever read. So this is in excellent company.
And of course, of course, the art is gorgeous. So what's not to like?
It's been months now since I read this, and since I skipped the 3rd book (couldn't get into it at the time and still haven't gone back), I don't knowIt's been months now since I read this, and since I skipped the 3rd book (couldn't get into it at the time and still haven't gone back), I don't know how much my reading & memory of this has been affected -- but I definitely don't think anything's captured the magic of the first book. Still fun, though, and I liked the new perspective. I love a good whimsical created world, I truly do, but I think the thing I love even more is when that whimsy spills over into our own world, seeps into our history and our ways of life, and tints it all in rose-colored magic. I love the places your mind can go with the alternate universes's"new information," and I love seeing how real people and events shape the authors decisions, and then our world is reshaped by those decisions, and on and on in this intricate tangle of real and make-believe. It delights the child and the creative person in me, as well as the absurdist, and this scene let me know that Fairyland number 4 would give me that in abundance — at least for a little while... ...more
I read a decent enough review of this from someone I trust to make me think that I should give it a try, so when the author approached me about revie
I read a decent enough review of this from someone I trust to make me think that I should give it a try, so when the author approached me about reviewing, I agreed even though I've been trying to stay away from self-published/vanity press/etc works. And I hate to do this, I really do, because I think there is heart in this book. But this is one of the most fractured, stilted, didactic pieces of something I have read in some time. I went in circles for days before I sat down to write this review, and I couldn't come up with any other way to say it. I just -- hmm.
I feel like I need to rein myself in a bit because I'm not intending to be mean, I know this is someone's baby, and she was nice enough to send it to me, and there will be people that will love this, and love to read it with their children. And in a way, that's what it reads like. It reads like a meandering bedtime story told by a distracted parent to a constantly-interrupting child, giving a sort of simple but incomplete feel to the story. Things just seem to happen out of nowhere, with no real impetus, and then they're over and the next thing happens. There's no real flow or -- I don't know if this will make sense, but it was a little too much like storytelling and a little too less storywriting.
In the end, it just was. It reminded me of the scene from an episode of family guy where they have a tangent about the Canadian film festival, and it was just this pointless little story where nothing happened and the dialogue was stitled and simple. That's how I felt reading this. Maybe not fair, maybe it's just not the story for me, but there you have it.
Ugh. I feel bad for what I'm about to do, because this is a kid's book about sharing (or something) and it does have a good message (I guess? Maybe?).Ugh. I feel bad for what I'm about to do, because this is a kid's book about sharing (or something) and it does have a good message (I guess? Maybe?). This was thoroughly unappealing throughout. I'm trying really hard to think of something that I liked that would make me recommend this book to someone, and I just can't. In Share from the Heart, Marilyn Randall presents a convoluted -- and exhaustively rhyming -- story that is ostensibly about sharing, but until the two parentless children offer for the creepy dragon to come home and live with them (and share their homes/food/life), I would have thought this was a book about open-mindedness and acceptance. But no. The message isn't so much open-mindedness (I mean, it is, really, but that's not the professed message) is that "Happiness and kindness is sharing whatever you've got/ Be it a home or food or just a kind word on the spot." There's a forward in the beginning (<-- redundant. Whatever.) that affirms that what I took from the book is infact the goal (compassion, acceptance, non-resistance to diversity), but it's still presented in this blanket theme of sharing, and I just don't get it. I don't see how it works together, especially in the mind of a small child.
Added to that is the very lengthy text of the book. Most pages average 4-6 quatrains of forced and often weird poetry; there's a picture for every two pages. This ration of text to image just doesn't work for small children. There are so many reasons why this is, and it should have been considered. It reads like the author wanted really badly to write a cutesy rhyme, but in order for that to work, she had to draw things out longer than necessary to get to the key lines, and she had to throw in stuff that rhymed, but didn't really work. It's far to long to hold a child's attention, the story is skippy and hard to follow, and the sheer length of it means that a child is going to be prevented from doing one of the key things they need from storybooks at that age: the ability to look at the pictures and remember bits of text and pretend to "read" it. This is a first huge step toward reading, and it's one they won't be able to take with this book. [And before I leave the topic of the writing, I'd like to just mention one thing that really bothered me: there is a line after the boys come upon the dragon and are scared, that says "their knees were still shaking, as if they were drunk." In what worldis this appropriate for a pre-schoolers book?]
Lastly, so I can wrap this up because I feel horrible bashing it into the ground, I want to discuss the illustrations. Illustrations are key to kids book, both for the reason I just mentioned above, and for sheer visual appeal. Kids need something to focus on and enjoy looking at. These illustrations are not appealing. In the least. They are clumsy and awkward, and the colors, sizes and details are insipid. Peter the dragon consistently looks a little...off. His eyes are always bugged out or rolling back in his head. And the children look like creepy little Village of the Damned kids + their skin is devil red, and they occasionally have evil eye brows. At first I was somewhat willing to excuse this as a sign that Randall illustrated this herself because she couldn't find/afford an illustrator, but really wanted to get her "message" out there -- then I flipped to the back and read that she "has an extensive background in the graphic design industry." WTF? Even if she herself is not a graphic designer, she must know people who are. Pull some strings, call in some favors, anything to not leave your book looking as strange and blah as it does. <--- Freaky little devil children with evil eyebrows
<--- Am I the only one who finds this thing creepy?...more
3.5 My video review of this, including an excerpt, can be found here.
Briefly: Bailey's Day is the story of the dog, Bailey, and her friend, Frankie, an3.5 My video review of this, including an excerpt, can be found here.
Briefly: Bailey's Day is the story of the dog, Bailey, and her friend, Frankie, and what they do during the day while their owners are away at work.
Things I liked: Bailey and Frankie are cute, the illustrations are fun and engaging, in a sort of "coloring book" style with very vibrant colors. Bailey has cute little adventures, all very dog-like. There are pictures of the read Bailey in the back that show Bailey in some of these same behaviors, which is a fun addition. The story is told simply and would make a good easy reader.
Things I didn't like: I had a bit of an issue in the story's structure, in that most of it is told through Bailey, but when there's dialogue, it's just plopped down in the middle in plain text, no quotation marks or attributions. I have a problem with this for 2 reasons: one, things should be consistent for any writer, and two -- this is the big one -- when a child is learning to read, rules need to be followed. Having dialogue that comes out of left field and is unattributed or awkward just isn't good for the learning process. Yes, they will probably still understand what is going on, and yes, I am probably being nit-picky, but still. I also wasn't a huge fan of the font used, and there was a weird color-block on some pages where the text was concerned: there was a color overlay on the page that looked as if whoever formatted the book didn't know how to make the text box transparent, so they tried to make it the same color as the background, which cut off or covered items in the scene. Not a huge deal, but a little weird nonetheless.
Overall: Cute fun read, especially for dog lovers. I would suggest a library borrow, if possible, rather than a buy, though....more
This was read aloud by Jadin at the Dorsch Memorial Library for the summer reading program, and this is possibly the best read aloud she's done for thThis was read aloud by Jadin at the Dorsch Memorial Library for the summer reading program, and this is possibly the best read aloud she's done for the program so far. It was very entertaining, from her voice to her faces, and she brought life to the story well. Whether I would have rated the book a 4 without her reading, I don't know, but that shows that this is the type of thing to read aloud and get your kids into....more
This was a quick read aloud after one of the children's summer reading programs. I thought the cover was cute, but I probably would never have lookedThis was a quick read aloud after one of the children's summer reading programs. I thought the cover was cute, but I probably would never have looked into it if one of the volunteers at the library hadn't brought it over and said it was good. A group of us promptly opened it up, and it was instantly charming. Bob the Bear is boring. His favorite place is empty parking lot, and his favorite thing to do is sit. His friend Jack the Panda is zany and energetic. Bob and Jack are contrasted through out the story, with Bob concluding that even though they are such very different bears, they make great friends, a cute and unobtrusive moral. The illustrations are deceptively simple, revealing great work on closer examination. Bob's and Jack's characters are obvious even through their illustrations, and their differences are humorous and charming. The language is simple and straight forward, and really seems to give Bob voice. There really wasn't anything about this book I didn't like....more
Though this was read excellently by Jadin (who always reads excellently), I thought the book itself was just so-so. To be fair, though, if I had beenThough this was read excellently by Jadin (who always reads excellently), I thought the book itself was just so-so. To be fair, though, if I had been close enough to see the illustrations, or had fewer people around me trying to talk to me and pull my attention away, I might have rated it higher. Then again, maybe it would have been lower......more
This book is a very cute take on manners, using a child's imagination and wishful thinking to teach manners in a humorous way. The illustrations are This book is a very cute take on manners, using a child's imagination and wishful thinking to teach manners in a humorous way. The illustrations are fantastic, perfectly suited to the tone of the story. They add another layer of humor to an already funny book. Definitely a worthwhile read aloud for young children (even better for groups), and a great way to introduce the topic of manners and behavior....more
When Kim moves to a new school, she is anxious that she won't make any friends. And when her teacher introduces her to the class, another girl, also nWhen Kim moves to a new school, she is anxious that she won't make any friends. And when her teacher introduces her to the class, another girl, also named Kim, seems dismayed to find there is another 'Kim.' So Kim lies. She wants so badly to be liked that her lie just grows and grows until it is out of her control and her whole class thinks she is a princess and her grandmother is a queen. Circumstances work out well for Kim, seeming to confirm her lie, until her grandmother comes to visit. This story is very cute with charming illustrations which reminded me of Fancy Nancy. The moral is there, but the reader isn't beaten over the head with it, which is nice, and Kim's plight is relatable....more
This book was very, very cute, and there were actually times I laughed aloud. In fact, one line became my Facebook status for a brief period of time.This book was very, very cute, and there were actually times I laughed aloud. In fact, one line became my Facebook status for a brief period of time. I don;t know if there are a lot of children that need a little help accepting their tushies (though I know many grown women who do), but if there are, this is the book. It's all about tushies of every shape and size (and smell), and the accompanying illustrations are darling. They reminded me somewhat of the artwork of a cartoon my sister watched when she was little (though I can't remember quite which one. Busy World of Richard Scarry, maybe?). It's kind of fussy and soft and very detailed. I would highly recommend this as a fun read along to kids. Or as a youtube worthy moment for stoned adults. :)...more