Caldecott Award Winner

Make Way for Ducklings

September 25, 2018
Subheader: 

If these duck parents would only make up their minds...

This is a bizarre book. Maybe it's more interesting if you live in Boston and actually know where these places are, but I've never actually been to Boston. And you can't expect ducks to be very intelligent, but this pair of ducks seems to be on the low end of the duck intelligence spectrum.

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Message: 

The people of Boston are nice to animals.

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.

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears

August 26, 2018
Subheader: 

Because pythons are paranoid and iguanas are grumpy.

Maybe the book is trying to say, "Don't tell lies," but the message that comes out is that people will blame you for things that are clearly not your fault. While this is a true message, it's not necessarily an ideal one.

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Message: 

People will blame you for things that are clearly not your fault.

The Snowy Day

July 23, 2018
Subheader: 

Everybody can have fun in the snow.

Nothing bad here, but nothing great. Groundbreaking for its time, but it didn't hold my attention at all. It's well-written and well-illustrated, but the story is pretty boring.

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Message: 

Playing in the snow is fun.

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music

March 27, 2018
Subheader: 

When you're a victim of discrimination, banging on the drums all day is a kind of work.

It's inspired by the true story of a Chinese-African Cuban girl, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, from 1932. The story is that a girl wants to play the drums, but where she lives, people believe that only boys should play drums. So she dreams about it and listens to the music and imagines herself playing music for a long time, and then eventually she just decides she's gonna play the drums and she plays them.

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Message: 

Don't give up on your dreams just because people say that they're unreasonable.

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

February 1, 2018
Subheader: 

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, except if it used to be an Indian girl.

It falls kind of in the low end of "meh." I'd kind of be annoyed if people were reading this to my kids, but I wouldn't stop them. I don't think that children actually get the idea that they should run away and live with horses.

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Message: 

Respect animals?

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

January 3, 2018
Subheader: 

A decent introduction to street art.

The book doesn't really talk about mental illness much, and the story part of the book also doesn't mention that Basquiat died at age 27 from a drug overdose. The reality is that he died quite young and was addicted to drugs, so his story was a bit more tragic than this children's book accounts for.

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Message: 

Jean-Michel Basquiat had a very interesting life.

This is Not My Hat

September 30, 2017
Subheader: 

Seriously, Mr. Klassen, what is it with the hats?

The main character is a jerk, and the main character gets karma. Maybe children like this kind of sociopathic protagonist and the ensuing comeuppance.

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Message: 

"It's wrong to steal a hat."

The Hello, Goodbye Window

October 3, 2017
Subheader: 

I don't know why you say goodbye window, I say hello window.

There's no real story, just a series of events that happen when she visits her grandparents. It's kind of boring. I'm really not sure how something this banal came from the same author as The Phantom Tollbooth and The Dot and the Line, both fascinatingly weird stories.

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Message: 

It's fun to hang out with your grandparents.

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