Jim's Lion

May 4, 2018
Subheader: 

When you wish upon a black person...

It's never stated where in "Africa" the woman is from. The only thing you ever learn about her is that she's a nurse (which is, don't get me wrong, a respectable profession). But she's basically the "Magical Negro" (TV Tropes). She's the vaguely different character who is more in touch with nature that helps the white person by giving him "deep spiritual wisdom" (TV Tropes). It's not okay to treat other cultures that way.

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Message: 

Black people have magic powers and will help you get through illnesses. Or, operations are scary and dangerous.

Mystery Bottle

May 2, 2018
Subheader: 

I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map...

Maybe the real story is that the grandfather sent a map, and the journey is metaphorical? It kind of makes me think that it's a fable that the author wrote for her son and her family, and then she thought it was really good so she published it. The art is fascinating and in a nice style. I'm not that impressed by the story because it's almost too personal for me to care about, but it's cute anyhow.

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Message: 

Family is important even if they're far away.

Duck's Key Where Can it be?

April 30, 2018
Subheader: 

Froggies be crazy, yo.

I can't figure out why this frog is just tormenting this duck. Did he do something to his parents or something like that? Is he responsible for some kind of embarrassment in the past? It's not just that he's annoying the crap out of him. He never even ends up revealing that he was the one that put Duck through this, and Duck just ends up feeling like he solved the problem on his own. It's just bizarre.

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Message: 

When you can't find something, it's probably being hidden from you for no apparent reason by a small frog.

Hosie's Alphabet

April 28, 2018
Subheader: 

Unusual is not necessarily good.

This is a weird book. I guess it's for people who are fans of the illustrator, Leonard Baskin. He has a very distinctive style and it's different from most other children's books.

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Message: 

None, just an alphabet book.

The Berenstain Bears: Blessed are the Peacemakers

April 26, 2018
Subheader: 

Contrived story, contrived ending, poor writing.

The best part: When Brother Bear and Sister Bear are breaking up the fight between the Nerds and the Troublemakers, Cousin Fred (a Nerd) gets involved. "'Let's remember what it says in the Bible,' said Cousin Fred who liked to memorize things. '"Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness."' 'Huh?' Said Too-Tall. 'What's that supposed to mean?' 'It means that if you make peace,' explained Ferdy, 'You will get a rich reward.' 'Oh, cool,' said Too-Tall." People don't talk like that. It's just awkward and bizarre.

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Message: 

Don't fight because the Bible says not to.

The 12 Sleighs of Christmas

April 24, 2018
Subheader: 

More like vehi-cools, amirite?

The mad science-style engineering (with entire vehicles designed and assembled within a few days) is acceptable, since you're working with elves and magic. The creativity is really cool, even though it's not necessarily rewarded in the expected manner. Everyone just enjoys the process and results. I think they avoided the idea of the old ways being more comfortable and not to avoid the new, and the message ends up being more like, "Creativity is awesome."

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Message: 

Creativity is awesome.

Pandora

April 22, 2018
Subheader: 

A beautifully dreamlike book.

Somehow I missed the fable part of it, because a fable usually has a moral. There's a stunning beauty to the illustrations, and a subtle message about helping other people, working together, and the power of nature. It's vague but positive.

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Message: 

Be kind to others.

One Day, The End.: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories

April 20, 2018
Subheader: 

Once upon a time, I wrote a review. I lived happily ever after.

It's a very playful, imaginative book, and you know most of the stuff that happens is the kind of thing that might happen to a young girl going through her day or in the different parts of her life. I really like how the author and illustrator team worked together here, and I'd love to see some behind-the-scenes information on how they did it! What did the author tell the illustrator beyond the words on the page? I really enjoyed this book.

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Message: 

So much more happens in a story beyond the words.

Lucía the Luchadora

April 16, 2018
Subheader: 

Could give Jack Black a run for his money.

I really like the message of equality and female empowerment, and how it doesn't say that girls are better than boys, just not to discriminate against people because they're girls. As females, if it takes us hiding who we are for people to notice us, then maybe we need to do that temporarily, but it's important to also show who you truly are to help others. I really enjoyed the book.

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Message: 

Girls can be whatever they want to be.

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