Messages In The Mailbox: How To Write A Letter

June 3, 2018
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Letters, we get letters, we get stacks and stacks of letters... LETTERS

I have never met anybody this obsessed with letters. Maybe the author is in the camp that the letter is a dying art and it needs to be revived, etc. etc. A feeling which has clearly been around since before the advent of email given the publication of this book. But it's just a weird book. It's a really weird book.

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Message: 

Writing letters is very complicated, apparently.

The Upside Down Riddle Book

June 1, 2018
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What is it about riddles that fascinates children?

I think the idea was to make you look at the world in a different way, or something like that, but it kind of falls flat on that since so many of the answers are completely recognizable even when they're upside down.

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Message: 

Riddles are interesting.

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub

May 30, 2018
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Who's in the what now?

The book seems like it would function as wish fulfillment for a child listener. When mommy says, "It's time to get out of the tub, we have to go eat," maybe the kid wonders, "Why can't we eat in the tub? If I was the boss, we would eat in the tub. You'd listen to me if I was the king."

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Message: 

Baths can be fun. Or, it would be awesome if you could do whatever you wanted to do, but eventually you probably should face up to reality.

The Wall

May 28, 2018
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Maybe we do need education?

It's a meditation on the importance of veterans and the fact that we're upset when people die, but I don't really know who this is for. It seems to be the kind of picture book that you would read to your children-- it's not a chapter book. I guess it's one of those books where I just can't get the message.

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Message: 

The Vietnam War was a thing that happened, and people died in it.

The Ugly Duckling

May 26, 2018
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I don't think most people know what the story really says.

Who gets to decide what's beautiful? Because I would imagine that swans find cygnets beautiful. It's just that he's in the wrong company for his beauty to be recognized. Why do humans even think swans are pretty, and why does the ugly duckling give a fig whether humans think he's pretty?

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Message: 

Being pretty is more important than anything else in the world.

Chickens Aren't the Only Ones

May 24, 2018
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The wonderful world of eggs.

The biggest issue that I have with this book is the first few sentences that spread across the first three pages. "CHICKENS laid the eggs you buy, the eggs you boil or fry or dye! or leave alone so you can see what grew inside naturally." No, that's not how you hatch a chicken.

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Message: 

Different kinds of animals lay eggs.

A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns

May 22, 2018
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A boring of lists.

The page for "A bevy of beauties" is kind of sexist: it depicts a bunch of women and girls from the rear (multicultural, though!) wearing leotards and tights like they're in a ballet class. I'm pretty sure I've heard the word bevy used for quail or something. I've never heard it used for people.

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Message: 

Collective nouns exist, and here are some of them I know arranged at random.

How to Hide an Octopus and Other Sea Creatures

May 20, 2018
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Pretty average, mostly accurate.

But for the most part, as far as I know, this is pretty accurate. Octopi and cuttlefish actually do change their color in the way that chameleons are thought to do in popular culture, and then all the other fish that she mentions are just naturally constantly camouflaged.

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Message: 

Various sea creatures have different ways of camouflaging.

My Garden

May 18, 2018
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Living chocolate bunnies would be kind of gross, though.

I feel like it's going to give kids ideas that that kind of thing actually could happen. I understand that imagination is awesome, I do. But you can you can have a great imagination, and also have respect for the natural world and the hard work that people put into gardens and things like that.

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Message: 

A magic garden would be awesome. Or, imagination is cool.

I Stink!

May 16, 2018
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Not as good as the show.

Does New York City not have dumps? It's just strange. The garbage truck takes things to the barge instead. In my city they go to the dump. I did not know that garbage trucks were "dual op," with two sets of steering wheels, gas pedals and brakes. It's kind of refreshing that the book doesn't even try to rhyme. There's a lot of nice noises and things like that.

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Message: 

Garbage trucks are awesome.

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