Awesome on so many levels. The story of mutual jealousy between an everyman goat and golden child unicorn rings true on a psychological level. I'm gui...moreAwesome on so many levels. The story of mutual jealousy between an everyman goat and golden child unicorn rings true on a psychological level. I'm guilty at times of letting appearances guide my assumptions about a person. So why wouldn't a goat assume that a unicorn who could make it rain cupcakes and turn things to gold wasn't high on himself? To the goat's surprise, the unicorn's jealous of his ability to make cheese from goat milk, of his strong garbage tolerant stomach, and of his climb-tastic cloven hooves. Only through direct interaction do goat and unicorn learn of each other's vulnerability. In the end, they realize they'd be stronger together as friends than apart. True!
Not only does Shea deliver a meaningful lesson, he manages to do it with humor. He had both Sigourney and me rolling several times. In addition to terrific comedic timing, Shea can draw. The sparkly, bright drawings of unicorn work perfectly with goat's drab color palate. The illustration style reminds me of something off Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, or maybe Spongebob Squarepants. Whatever, they suit the written material perfectly.
Yuck. A banal story about a toy horse that 8 year old Johnny wants to regift to his little brother Liam. Inexplicably, during the five years since Joh...moreYuck. A banal story about a toy horse that 8 year old Johnny wants to regift to his little brother Liam. Inexplicably, during the five years since Johnny played on this horse, it's been reduced to near rubble while sitting in the attic. The paint's completely gone, three legs are missing, so are the wheels. What, did Grandpa drag it behind his car out of spite? Some wear due to lack of use makes sense, but mutilation? C'mon now. The "magic" comes when Grandpa and Dad repair the horse in secret and put it near the Christmas tree as a surprise for Johnny. Johnny's happy, and uncorks the thought that makes me cringe in every Hallmark family Christmas movie - "Wishes do come true, especially Christmas wishes." Flaccid, banal, ho-hum. Call me Scrooge, but appeals to "believe" in something like an airy-feel-goody "spirit of Christmas" give me the heebie geebies. Is Christmas about more than buying stuff and being nicer to other people than we normally would be? I think so. Give me movies like Joyeux Noel over Santa Paws anyday. I'll take a church pew over a seat at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade any time. But that's just me being a pious Grinch.
Wendell Minor's illustrations are the strength of the book. He channels Norman Rockwell. They're not bad. Otherwise, avoid!(less)
For my taste, the simpler and more elegant the picture book, the better. Flora and the Flamingo definitely fits my favored criteria. Molly Idle, a for...moreFor my taste, the simpler and more elegant the picture book, the better. Flora and the Flamingo definitely fits my favored criteria. Molly Idle, a former artist with DreamWorks, uses no words. Her illustrations with interactive flip panels are beautiful and uncluttered. I'm impressed with Idle's visual storytelling abilities. She depicts a synchronized ballet dance engagingly and flawlessly. And our three-year-old Sigourney thought so too. She asked me to read it to her back-to-back-to-back at bedtime tonight. She loved flipping the interactive panels and commenting on the progression of the friendship between the flamingo and Flora.
It really is fun going through wordless picture books together. It gives young ones a chance to provide commentary on the action. Fun!(less)
Enjoyable, even adorable in that younger sibling sort of way. It's the love-child of Tolkien's and T.H. White's imaginations, a mixture of Arthurian c...moreEnjoyable, even adorable in that younger sibling sort of way. It's the love-child of Tolkien's and T.H. White's imaginations, a mixture of Arthurian chivalry, gallantry, and demonic armies. Medwyn's name reminds of Merlin, though he longs to hang out with Lord Elrond of Rivendell. Taran's a Wart/Frodo mingling. Gurgi's a less conflicted Gollum. Gwydion wants to be Aragorn worse than anything. Doli and Gimli are brothers. The Cauldron-Born remind of orcs. On and on and on. These similarities can't be accidental. Clearly, Alexander's Prydain borrows inspiration from other legendary works of high and epic fantasy.
Despite the lack of originality in some of the characters, themes and scenes, I had fun with The Book of Three. Taran annoyed me at times with his tendencies toward self-deprecation. But the awesome characters Gurgi and Eilonwy more than compensated for my annoyance. I loved them! Eilonwy's a tough, ornery princess who let's no perceived slight pass without confrontation. She adds a dash of feminism to the action.
The Book of Three proves to me once again that I'm a sucker for fantasy that depicts male relationships as deeply honorable. Alexander's portrayal of the growing friendship between Taran and Gwydion just pricks me somewhere near the core of my being. Apparently, I've placed the personal characteristics of gallantry, honor, and chilvary on a pedestal without full awareness. Hence my fascination with works of High Fantasy, the elegant language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible, etc. I can't get enough of the stuff.
In the end, Alexander's simple story intended for chidren won me over. If you read this one, expect fast-paced entertainment rather than storytelling perfection.(less)
Wonderful artwork and realistic preschooler behavior made this one a keeper for toddler and dad. We first checked it out from the local library. Sigou...moreWonderful artwork and realistic preschooler behavior made this one a keeper for toddler and dad. We first checked it out from the local library. Sigourney asked me to read it every bedtime through the week we had it, and she continued asking about the book after its return. I asked her why she liked it so much. Turns out the ruggedness of the Digger toy made her happy. She also loved Phoebe. And why not? Phoebe and Sigourney are in the same boat. They both have brand new baby brothers. They're both jealous of mom's (and dad's) having to pay attention to another little one. As I read to Sigourney, she'd stop me and ask why Phoebe seemed so sad, why Phoebe's mom looked so tired. With each reading, Sigourney asked me to pause on the page where mom and jealous Phoebe share an incredibly sweet moment after a bully's retreat. Following a few of the readings, Sigourney asked me if she could go back downstairs to give mom one last hug before bedtime. I teared up every time! Dang heartfelt moments in picture books. Manipulative! :)
I'm grateful for Springtubb's reminder that life happens in the now, that present moments matter. There will be bullies in Sigourney's life. Sometimes, Sigourney will play the role of bully, as Phoebe does in making fun of a boy scared of worms. Sigourney will never be 100% jealousy free when it comes to her brother, mom and dad. Orneriness happens! But so do moments of absolute warmth, contentedness, and assurance of lovability. Moments end, moods ebb and flow. So, I should take time to enjoy those moments of joyful clarity.
Soon after returning Phoebe and Digger to our local library, we took a trip to the Red Balloon Bookstore in St. Paul and purchased a copy. Like I said earlier, it's a keeper!(less)