The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant

September 17, 2018
Subheader: 

Little elephant, big plot holes.

It's not explained how the elephants know about cars and clothing, and why they're so impressed by it. Are they supposed to be intelligent, or simple-minded and easily amused? I don't know what the purpose of this book is. There's so many holes in the universe and the story that is told that it doesn't make a lot of sense. The characters motivations are really unclear, and it ends up being really bizarre.

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Message: 

Elephants want to be more like people.

The Little Engine That Could

September 15, 2018
Subheader: 

Good message, boring story.

It's just really a product of its time. I'm pretty sure it's not interesting enough for most of today's kids. There's gratitude in it, which is nice. There's helping others, which is nice. There's believing in yourself, which is nice. But it's really not that much more interesting than "The Little Red Caboose" except that it's got female trains in it.

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Message: 

Believe in yourself, and help others out.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

September 13, 2018
Subheader: 

Good message, potentially scary story.

I just think it's potentially upsetting that the child turns into a rock and stays that way for a long time. His parents are distraught (although I suppose it would be worse if they weren't). Clearly in this universe, magic is extremely powerful and permanent. If it was something a little less drastic, and he didn't stay that way for almost a year, this would be a good book. I really love the scientific moment, and the message of appreciating what you have. Maybe when my kids are old enough to completely understand that magic isn't real, like at age seven or eight, I might read this to them.

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Message: 

Our loved ones and family are the most important things in our lives. Or, be careful what you wish for.

Hop on Pop

September 11, 2018
Subheader: 

Snore on bore.

This is basically one of those word list books. Apparently Dr. Seuss wrote them, too. It's kind of on the same lines as "I'll Teach My Dog 100 Words" except Seuss's word list rhymes, which is about the only way you can get through one of these without falling asleep.

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Message: 

These are words you should learn.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

September 9, 2018
Subheader: 

Pointless with a chance of confusion.

I know, I know, I'm reading far too much into this. But all of this crossed my mind literally within 10 minutes of reading the book. It makes no sense, and it's unclear if it's supposed to. What is the point of this book? Where is it going with this meandering story? What is it trying to say? I have no idea. It basically just says, "Once upon a time, there was this place where food fell from the sky, and then all the people left." Why did you even bother telling the story?

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Message: 

It's a good thing food doesn't fall from the sky.

Go, Dog, Go!

September 7, 2018
Subheader: 

Why, Dog, Why?

It's boring and it doesn't go anywhere. I would like to say, as I have in other reviews of similar books, that children will learn language without it being explicitly taught to them, as long as they are around other people who speak it. They do not need to be explicitly taught a list of prepositions like they're vocabulary words. Children don't need this book.

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Message: 

Here are a bunch of words and dogs.

Tikki Tikki Tembo

September 5, 2018
Subheader: 

Tikki Tikki? No. No.

If the mother were punished for her callous treatment of her children, especially the youngest, then maybe her behavior would act as an anti-example. But as it is, with no repentance or personal consequences (only her eldest son suffers for it), I don't want this read to my kids. I don't want her behavior modeled for them. I don't want them to worry I'll ignore them if they fall down a well, or treat them differently based on their age alone. And I don't want them to feel that either of them is worthless. Not even in a relative sense.

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Message: 

Chinese people are exactly like Japanese people, except with stupid (nonexistent) traditions. Also, among siblings, only the oldest son is important and everybody else is basically disposable.

Corduroy

September 3, 2018
Subheader: 

This must be a book! I think I've always wanted to review a book.

There's not much to it. There's no conflict. There's no character development. It's pretty basic. It's just like a fantasy of what a toy bear might do if he realized that he'd lost a button.

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Message: 

It feels good to be loved.

Tell Me About Sex, Grandma

September 1, 2018
Subheader: 

A case of style over substance.

This book barely skims the surface of the topic, but it skims it well. But it's not enough to answer the larger, underlying question of what sex actually is. It's incomplete, and it reads more like a meditation on the process of talking to children about sex than an actual instructive book. I would love to see a thorough, detailed book about sex written in this style. It drew me in through its conversational tone, but left me wanting something more substantial. The artwork is great, as well.

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Message: 

Sex is wonderful, but it's personal, and it's something that everybody involved has to agree to.

Call for Cybils Judges

September 1, 2018

The Cybils organizers are looking for this year's group of judges. They say, "Are you a reader who loves children's and young adult books? This call is for you. We need some wonderful book bloggers who are interested in reading a lot of children's or young adult books, reviewing them, and choosing the best of the best for the 2018 Cybils Awards."

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