Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

July 21, 2018
Subheader: 

Because when I think of goblins, I think of Hanukkah.

For all its talk about the power of the menorah, almost all the references to Hanukkah could really be swapped out with any kind of magical system and the story would be basically the same. When I teach my children about Hanukkah, I'll use a different method, because I prefer to stick to the facts of a culture. If this was like a traditional Jewish folktale, that might be different.

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Message: 

Goblins are easy to fool. Or, Hanukkah is totally awesome.

There's a Monster in Your Book

July 19, 2018
Subheader: 

But why?

Yes, it's silly, but it doesn't really go anywhere, and for me the interaction with the monster and the shaking and everything is all more contrived than, say, Hervé Tullet's "Press Here". "Press Here" doesn't imply that there's an inherent reason that you're interacting with the book except for its own sake, which is cool. This book just says, "There's a monster. Let's get him out. No, never mind, let's put him back." It's definitely not bad; it's just that it doesn't make me care.

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Message: 

None.

Harold and the Purple Crayon

July 17, 2018
Subheader: 

Poor kid should've drawn a map.

It's an adventure book, and it's a kind of a testament to the power of imagination, the power of curiosity and bravery. I think it's a great book. It's very simple. It has kind of a high number of pages, but they don't have that many words, and the words aren't long.

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Message: 

Imagination is awesome.

You Don’t Want a Unicorn!

July 15, 2018
Subheader: 

Boys can like unicorns, too.

In this book, the narrator is constantly warning the boy from the beginning, and the boy doesn't listen and the narrator is clearly more knowledgeable about unicorns than the boy. So it's literally a wish, and he gets exactly what he asked for. It just turns out to be different from what he expected.

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Message: 

Be careful what you wish for.

Outside Over There

July 13, 2018
Subheader: 

These goblins and their weddings, amirite?

I really liked the relationship--the tenderness and compassion--from the older sister to the younger sister. Dealing with babies is hard. The mother's clearly mentally checked-out already.

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Message: 

Take responsibility for your actions.

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

July 11, 2018
Subheader: 

You're a nice person. Here, have a prince.

Why does nobody else tell Mufaro, "Hey, Manyara is a jerk"? Or is she only a jerk to Nyasha? The summary says "Everyone--except Mufaro--knew that Manyara was selfish, bad-tempered, and spoiled." How does he not know? I guess she's clever enough to hide how much of a jerk she is.

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Message: 

Be kind, and you'll be rewarded.

The Story of Little Black Sambo

July 9, 2018
Subheader: 

Because there are so many tigers on the old plantations.

This book is only bad because of Helen Bannerman's original racist drawings and the names of the characters. The characters don't act in a particularly stereotypical way, and the message of the book isn't inherently bad. Clearly the story is set in India, and I don't know why Bannerman decided to draw the characters as awful stereotypes from the American South.

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Message: 

Black people have certain exaggerated features.

Creepy Carrots!

July 7, 2018
Subheader: 

Well, they're creeping, so I guess the title is accurate.

I'm honestly not sure what this book is trying to say. Maybe it's just trying to be a "scary" book without being a scary book. Like, funny-scary? It's just that the premise falls apart if you think about it for more than five minutes.

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Message: 

Don't eat carrots. Or, if you think you're being stalked by sentient vegetables, you probably are.

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