The graveyard book tells the story of Nobody Owens (called Bod), who escapes to a graveyard as a toddler after his family is murdered. Bod is given thThe graveyard book tells the story of Nobody Owens (called Bod), who escapes to a graveyard as a toddler after his family is murdered. Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard, allowing him to pass freely through the graveyard and learn the ways of the ghost inhabitants who are helping to raise him. This graveyard family teaches Bod how to see at night, to Haunt, Fade and Dreamwalk; they protect him from the outside world, and from the man who killed his family and would like to finish the job. But they cannot protect him forever, and Bod knows that one day he will have to confront the world and the dangers in it, embracing his destiny for good or bad. I was really excited to read this book, and even though I was in the middle of another, I found myself repeatedly picking The Graveyard Book up and opening to the brilliant first page. I finally caved in and set my other book aside so I could read this, and at first I was entirely disappointed and didn’t think I was going to like the book at all. I found Bod’s toddler years to be only tolerable. There was occasional cuteness, but nothing to hook me and make me want to keep reading (aside from the fantastic Gorey-esque illustrations). That all changed when Bod went to Ghûlheim; from then on I was absolutely hooked. The writing is clever and has a certain brightness mingled with the dark of the story. The book is sprinkled with interesting characters (with amusing epitaphs). The worlds Gaiman created are vivid and intriguing, with interesting and original takes on familiar mythology. Bod’s journey is relatable, even in all of its surrealness, and the overall message is incorporated well without being didactic. This is the sort of story I know I would have become completely lost in and obsessed with as a child. A warning to parents that there are some dark themes and scary elements, but overall I would recommend this to any child/young teen, especially those who like fantasy and darker elements. This would also make a fun read-aloud for parents and children, or a classroom, and the illustrations add to the story immensely. I would rate this closer to a 4.5....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
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
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
I would rate this as more a 3.5. It was cute with vibrant illustrations, and it had a nice message, but what knocked it back from being a four was theI would rate this as more a 3.5. It was cute with vibrant illustrations, and it had a nice message, but what knocked it back from being a four was the didactic quality and some of the rhyming. I know that simple rhymes are good for small kids; they can remember them and feel like they are reading the book themselves. However, I feel like there are still standards, and I hate forced rhymes. I f you are going to write a rhyming book, I expect them to be clever and well done. If they are forced, I want to put it down. As I said, I can let this slide somewhat in a kid's book, but I still had to take it into account when rating this. Though I must say, I was very pleased to be reading a book by Dolly Parton!...more