I tip my hat to Beatrix Potter for managing to perfectly capture the benign and industrious nature of the hedgehog and turn...moreBeautiful, beautiful story.
I tip my hat to Beatrix Potter for managing to perfectly capture the benign and industrious nature of the hedgehog and turn the humble insectivore into a cultural landmark for us all to love and cherish.(less)
That's the gist of what was going on in Roald Dahl's mind here. The illustrations, lovingly done by Quentin Blake, add a greater...moreHunting is bad, okay?
That's the gist of what was going on in Roald Dahl's mind here. The illustrations, lovingly done by Quentin Blake, add a greater dash of humor to the typically dark Dahl tale. It's short, sweet, and rather to the point. Another fun example of "how would you like it if someone did that to you?" The answer? Well. Not much.
The high rating is less for the title story than it is for the awesome expanded facts in the book. After the story the new publication continued with a brief biography of Dahl, some fun quotes, bits of trivia, and other general madness related to the man. That bumped the rating up to a four from a more general three for a fun quick read.
What an awesome guy. Thus, I continue my "read everything by Roald Dahl" challenge of the year...(less)
I got this book through Netgalley for reviewing, and boy am I happy I did.
Fox Talk is a fantastic children's book that delves into the topic of domest...moreI got this book through Netgalley for reviewing, and boy am I happy I did.
Fox Talk is a fantastic children's book that delves into the topic of domestication in a way that is easy for anyone to understand. They actually talk about the Russian Fox Experiment, how domestication affects not only behavior but actual genetics, and how you can assess these facts and animal intelligence for yourself.
The topic, while complex, is laid out very well and further resources are also offered throughout the book. The nature of exotic pet ownership is examined in a respectful way that acknowledges both the pros and cons and explains just why legality can come into question.
This is a book that I look forward to using someday for my own educational outreach, and is definitely one that I'll refer many people to while I work in the exotic animal field.
Five stars, no question. I'm so glad that this book came my way. :)(less)
Well, it was just a four star book to me. Ratings are subjective, and occasionally I change mine as my feelings change. Or as...moreWhat??? Four stars?? Why?
Well, it was just a four star book to me. Ratings are subjective, and occasionally I change mine as my feelings change. Or as I feel like it. Or when I'm fairly certain I won't get slaughtered for disliking something as popular as Never Let Me Go. Oops.
Anyway, James and the Giant Peach was a movie I rather enjoyed. I retained the basic plot, and was amused enough giving it a read through. The illustrations were fun, the LadyBug lovely, the Silk Worm a deus ex machina if there ever was one, and the Spider charming. The Centipede was an unrepentant pest, but what can you do? I still hope I never see one again in my life. In real life, I mean. In books they're all right, for the most part.
What took this book down from a five to a four was more or less the fact that James didn't really gain much from his journeys. Oh, sure, he realized he was an intelligent human being. (view spoiler)[He gained friends once they got to America. (hide spoiler)] It just didn't feel like quite enough. The ending of Matilda, for instance, felt like enough to me. But this book felt a wee bit unfinished. Not as literally so as Staurt Little was, but still just a bit not fully there.
No bother, though. It's still a rollicking adventure and a delightful film.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
You know, I really enjoy Roald Dahl. In fact, I'm slowly going through just about everything he's written. Unfortunately, when you decide to read ever...moreYou know, I really enjoy Roald Dahl. In fact, I'm slowly going through just about everything he's written. Unfortunately, when you decide to read everything someone has written you come up against a few unfortunate reads. For me, this was one of them. During the World Wars a great number of books were written for children about aspects of military life. This was how The Gremlins was born.
Gremlins are tiny creatures that go through planes (and most mechanical objects) and totally mess them up. You probably have a few messing with your WiFi on occasion. Why do they do this? Their forests were destroyed during the Industrial Revolution and they want revenge. Why else? Maybe for fun, or maybe not. In this story Roald Dahl decides to create a little school for them so they can repair planes rather than destroy them. Which... I guess makes sense? Now the pilots won't have anyone to blame but themselves when things go wrong though. Didn't think that one through, did you?
This book just... bored me. The illustrations weren't enough to keep me engaged, I was constantly confused by who didn't believe in them and who did. I don't understand why they decided to work with creatures that nearly murdered them for fun. It was just a bit of a mess for me. Oh well. I think Disney even got a film out of this nonsense.
No nostalgia here, and no Snoopy to keep me engaged. Alas.(less)
Roald Dahl is one of those authors omnipresent during childhood, but slowly fading into obscurity as the years go by. We all know the books he's writt...moreRoald Dahl is one of those authors omnipresent during childhood, but slowly fading into obscurity as the years go by. We all know the books he's written, the films and plays made of them. We all know the basis of the stories, but have we actually read the books? I hadn't, unfortunately, but I've been slowly amending that over the years and trying to understand what exactly I missed during my childhood. Unfortunately, what I missed seemed to be rather a lot. Fortunately, I'm making up for it now and able to more greatly appreciate what would have flown a bit over my head had I read them all during childhood.
Matilda I mostly remember as the film that came out when I was younger and constantly playing on television. I had a distinct image of a child being thrown through a window by her pigtails, and sure enough that did end up happening a bit later on during the book.
The writing in the book is good, wry and told with a bit of a smirk. While the classic idea of children versus adults is at the heart of the story, so is the notion that good adults can and do exist. The nurturing of Matilda's teacher, and the constant seeking of knowledge on her part were refreshing themes that resonated for me at least, as I'd been a child reading at a rather higher level than the rest of my classmates for some time. I also was rather touched by the fact that the children never resented Matilda her knowledge, but rather liked her. She was humble about it, quiet about it, helpful and sweet.
The book was touching, illustrations grand, and the story funny without being too harsh or too vulgar, as some children's books can be. Roald Dahl well reserves his status as a classic children's author.(less)
Out of what I read of the Time Quintet originally this was the book I had the scantiest recollection of. I reread A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilt...moreOut of what I read of the Time Quintet originally this was the book I had the scantiest recollection of. I reread A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet many many times, but this one? Not so much. My memory of it was very shaky and I think it got mixed somewhere over the years with some Magic School Bus episodes.
Nevertheless, rereading the book I found a lot of charming parts of it. I don't feel that it was nearly as strong as A Wrinkle in Time, but poking around I discovered that for a great many people this book was really their favorite. The author's speculative biology was both misinformed and predictive, interesting and thematic. It's a bit heavy, but all of her books are. I think my main problem was that the book came off as more rushed than the others for me.
Progonoskies is a fantastic character, but Blajeny and Sporos both didn't seem fully developed. Calvin could have been emphasized a bit more, too, considering what part he and his family play in A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet but that might just be my own bias speaking.
Man, I wish this universe had been more fully fleshed out.(less)
This Peanuts collection was a gift to me.. probably from around the time it first came out. I can't even recall how many nigh...moreI got this book ages ago.
This Peanuts collection was a gift to me.. probably from around the time it first came out. I can't even recall how many nights I spent leafing through its pages, giggling at the same old jokes and admiring the artwork. Peanuts, baseball, and the cynical humor of Charles M. Schulz all combine to make this collection, well, a classic. Who doesn't enjoy a good joke now and then? This book is a summer's hot afternoon spent with lemonade by a pool.(less)
Rather than being a collection of strips pertaining to the Snoopy vs. the Red Baron gag this a full length story. Yes, it is a picture book, but it st...moreRather than being a collection of strips pertaining to the Snoopy vs. the Red Baron gag this a full length story. Yes, it is a picture book, but it still includes such wonderful words as "meander" and some minor French. Heck, it even goes on to describe the different fighter planes that are being flown and the tracer bullets being used. What's not fun about some minor WWI history?
The story is amusing, as Snoopy goes about his day imagining he's making his way through the fields of France. It's a charming little story, and one that I can't rightly imagine a little kid disliking. I loved the artwork, the vocabulary that didn't patronize the children, and the traditional Peanuts humor. It's a fine little book. :)(less)
What do you do when your dog is acting outrageously? If you happen to be Charlie Brown, you write a letter to the puppy farm you got your dog f...moreUh oh!
What do you do when your dog is acting outrageously? If you happen to be Charlie Brown, you write a letter to the puppy farm you got your dog from and send him back for a bit of obedience training. When Charlie Brown does just that, Snoopy decides a bit of school isn't in the cards for this World War I flying ace. An overnight stay at Peppermint Patty's on the way to Daisy Hill turns into something a bit longer... and longer... and longer . Patty, tired of Snoopy taking advantage of her good nature, decides to turn the tables on this feisty dog and a good lesson is learned.
Peanuts comics never get old for me, and these little booklets are some of the best. Snoopy's sassy behavior truly mirrors the fox terrier he was based on, and nothing can quash the fond memories of these animated specials in my mind.
The fondness I have of this book comes mainly from having read it (and having it read to me) as a child.
Stuart Little himself isn't a terribly likable...moreThe fondness I have of this book comes mainly from having read it (and having it read to me) as a child.
Stuart Little himself isn't a terribly likable character. He is capricious at best, and although he's helpful he's also terribly aloof and fickle in his cares. By the last third of the book he has run away from home to find Margalo whom he loves, but has no qualms about asking another girl out for a night of canoeing. He didn't even bother to write home to explain to his family what he was about. What a guy.
Yes, it also is troublesome that a woman gave birth to a mouse. I still don't quite understand that matter...
The ending of the book is bittersweet, beautiful, and altogether worth the read. It reminded me oddly of the ending of The House at Pooh Corner or the Piper at the Gates of Dawn in The Wind in the Willows. There's a sense of wonder and a sense of loss, and I feel considerably the images evoked by the endless trek North that Stuart Little has embarked on. Will he find he Margalo? Will he ever return to the New York he loved so well? It's debatable, at best, but with the imagery of the water and Stuart's seafaring ways it's safe to say he'd never settle in one place for too terribly long.
Beautiful book, even if perhaps an undeserved classic. Not E.B. White's best, but there are far worse fates than growing up with this story.(less)
Got to give this book a ton of stars. Oh, my childhood.
I grew up near the Potomac and spent a ton of time in the places described by these stories. I...moreGot to give this book a ton of stars. Oh, my childhood.
I grew up near the Potomac and spent a ton of time in the places described by these stories. I bought the book itself in one of the houses described in the stories... They're fun, they're short, and there are a lot of them. It's irrelevant to me whether the stories are true or not, they fascinated me as a child either way.
Can't wait to give this book to my nephew and continue the cycle of late nights spent poring over ghost stories and wondering what's out there. :)(less)
I had no idea this book existed until quite recently when Alan reviewed it. It being the Christmas season, I looked it up on Project Gutenberg (www.gu...moreI had no idea this book existed until quite recently when Alan reviewed it. It being the Christmas season, I looked it up on Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org) and read it for myself.
This book is quite like the Oz books that L. Frank Baum is better known for. The same whimsical nature of those books is conveyed, and the world is rife with folklore and certain bits of magic.
Reading this story, I could imagine it being told to children and trying to answer their questions... hence a lot of mythos without a lot of backstory, a lot of explanation of the more mundane things (cat toys won't hiss and scratch you!) without explanation of how the reindeer can, say, fly over water.
Nonetheless, this book is rather adorable and one I'd love to share with my nephews if given the chance. :)(less)
This is the sort of book I'd want to give to my future children. This book explains, bit by bit, the archaeological practice of unearthing lost cities...moreThis is the sort of book I'd want to give to my future children. This book explains, bit by bit, the archaeological practice of unearthing lost cities. Each section details a different ruin, how it was discovered, what processes allowed us to date it, translate languages (in the case of ancient Egyptian writing), and so forth.
This book, published in the early '60s, is outdated, but for a children's book it is still fantastic. There is no talking down to the child, and while the language is 'easier' it is still technical enough that a kid could go on to fully understand more complex books.
Roslyn's Restaurant Rescue is a beautifully illustrated children's book. The story is told in a semi-rhyme, and each page is accompanied with the aforementioned beautiful artwork. I have to tell you, picture books are addictive once you start looking at the drawings closely. Also, I love the way they're written. I want my potential children to learn the word "festoon" at an early age for sure.
When the chef can't make it to the restaurant on time, who are you going to call to help? The other cooks? Maybe a sous chef? What about the manager of the restaurant? No, in this case they're going to call upon Roslyn, a little mouse that happens to be riding along on her bike. It's up to her to save the day, since there's a huge birthday party being held a bit after noon for Mister Cameron, presumably a local celebrity.
Roslyn isn't a bit put off. That mouse just goes in there and immediately starts whipping up an extravagant Italian meal. She's cooking pasta, she's shredding cheese, she's preparing this feast while the other workers in the restaurant set up the dining room... and guess what? She even helps set it up. Clearly she makes all the human characters look a bit incompetent because, being a mouse, she's the most productive creature in existence. And you know what? She doesn't even work there. Pretty sure she's not employed, but she's taking over like Tabatha does at salons. The mouse is that good.
Mister Cameron arrives, and everything goes beautifully. Sure, his wife is shy, but everyone agrees that the birthday party was a huge success. Roslyn the mouse gets paid, and has to bring a greeting ('hi') back to her parents. Presumably her parents were the ones who told the restaurant about their chef prodigy mouse daughter who could totally save the day.
And so, the restaurant is rescued. Hooray Roslyn!(less)
While I'm not opposed to parody books, this one came up a bit dry for me. The tone of the book itself...moreI received this book in the first-reads program.
While I'm not opposed to parody books, this one came up a bit dry for me. The tone of the book itself kept switching between a rather adult tone (hence the reference to the Southern strategy) and a childish one (the Democrat decrying that the food "tastes like chicken.. which it was itself.) By not sticking to a consistent tone I felt a bit robbed of the full experience.
As expected, the book took a hard line against the Republicans. What surprised me, however, was that at the end in the "epilogue" it took a stance against the Democrats as well. What the book left me with, as a reader, was a generally confused bewilderment as to what the book would agree with at all. If both parties are awful, then why exactly take a stance that would further such animosity? It seemed strange.
The Girlz of Glastanberry has a message that is incredibly difficult to dislike. Garen S. Wolff has set up a story, or well, a series of stories, that are rife with the message that girls should not allow their gender to control their ambitions. I can't say anything negative about that message - I do believe that women should strive to achieve whatever they wish to achieve - and I can't say anything negative about the multicultural nature of the book either. It's cool to see characters from all walks of life in the book, and it offers a look at different subcultures that I've not seen explored before. In particular, Fei in the breakdancing competition was pretty darn cool.
Something that I fond particularly refreshing in this book was the fact that the girls didn't always get what they wanted. The competitions were not simple wish-fulfillment, but rather realistic in what outcomes occurred. Just because you lose doesn't mean that you're a failure - there are plenty of opportunities that come out of just putting yourself out there. Furthermore, the relationships that the kids had with their parents were also pretty realistic. I think that Garen S. Wolff captured the familial love and how it can be offset by different ambitions without lessening. Again, I found Fei to be an excellent example of this. Lillian also was a particularly good example of the instability that can happen in family situations but not lessen them. Very cool stuff.
The problems that I had with this book were threefold.
First, I found the amount of character perspectives a bit jarring. Each chapter focused on a different girl getting her acceptance letter to Galstanberry and how she reacted to it. While this is a great set up for the overall book series, it can be a bit jarring for the reader. Keeping track not only of the protagonists who go to the school, but also their parents, relatives, and friends is a bit much. The relationships can be hard to remember, and as each character is quite fully developed... well, these interactions are important. If the series continues and each book tends to take a more narrow focus this problem will be resolved.
Secondly, I found some of the girls behavior pretty abominable. This problem is mine rather than a problem of the book or the writer. I understand that teens and tweens do act rather much like the characters in the book... so, it's well done. The author herself works with kids these age, so she certainly knows what she's doing! I can't really criticize, this is just personal opinion here.
My third trouble with the book was the foreign language within it. While I had no trouble with the inclusion of the foreign phrases, I found the translations of them a bit jarring. I think it might be better to include a glossary at the back of the book, or maybe just a translation at the beginning of each chapter rather than the footnotes for each phrase. The repetition of ones already translated bothered me a little as well. I'm not certain how others have taken to the translation - I certainly wouldn't remove the foreign sentences from the book.
Overall, I quite liked the message of the book and the portrayal of the characters within. I just didn't quite find the book to my taste. Nevertheless, I do believe I will be passing it on to my niece when she's old enough to enjoy it. :)(less)
God Loves You. - Chester Blue is the sweetest of sweet books. It is saccharine and innocence, optimism...moreI won this book through the first-reads program.
God Loves You. - Chester Blue is the sweetest of sweet books. It is saccharine and innocence, optimism and oh golly gee swell. It's a book that warmed my sometimes cynical heart, made me tear up and smile. It's the warmth on a cold day, and the reassurance you need when you've been down and sad. Really, this book was just what I needed tonight.
The book begins with a blue bear named Chester showing up on the doorstep of a woman who sure needs it. He has a note with him, which is what gives the book its title. From there, the bear travels, popping up just when a person needs him. While the plot is simple, and the language easy, this is a recipe sweet enough for people of any age to read. It reminds me of the books I grew up on, that I was so incredibly proud I could read by myself.
If I ever have the chance, this is certainly a book I'll share with younger kids, my own peers, and the older crowd.