The Story of Little Babaji

August 8, 2018
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Lackluster story, beautiful illustrations.

It's definitely an improvement on the original "Little Black Sambo" by Helen Bannerman. They redrew it and renamed the characters to make it more obvious that the story takes place in India, so the little boy's name is now Little Babaji. Much, much better.

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Message: 

Fighting tigers makes you hungry.

The Spider and the Fly

August 6, 2018
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"Will you walk a little faster?" Said a whiting to a snail. "There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail."

Like the spider says, it's not a twist ending. Nowadays, we don't expect the endings of kids' stories to be quite as dark. Evil wins. One of the main characters is devoured by the other. In retrospect, horror is an obvious motif.

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Message: 

Beware of people who try to flatter you to trick you into doing things.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

August 4, 2018
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Don't know much about biology. But I know more than Eric Carle, apparently.

And someone else pointed out to me that the butterfly wings are on upside down. He's not an airplane, he's a moth-- butterfly-- whatever. Butterfly and moth wings are wider on the top and narrower on the bottom. So either his wings are upside-down, or his whole body is upside-down in the picture and what everyone thinks is his head is actually his butt.

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Message: 

Caterpillars turn into butterflies?

My Princess Boy

August 2, 2018
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If girls can wear pants, boys can wear dresses.

Another book with a great concept, but lacking in execution. I love that this book exists. It's definitely not a bad book. I just feel like they could have done so much more with this.

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Message: 

People can wear whatever they want.

Sparkle Boy

July 31, 2018
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Sparkle, sparkle, little boy.

I don't find this realistic, and I don't find the change in the older sibling meaningful. They aren't accepting the behavior because of its inherent harmlessness (or even benefits), they are merely switching sides, like they're the only one allowed to insult their sibling.

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Message: 

It's okay for boys to wear sparkly dresses.

Heather Has Two Mommies

July 29, 2018
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The only interesting thing about it is the title. And someday, even that won't be interesting.

It's one of those books whose mere existence is important. It's a revolutionary book concept, but the book itself is just okay.

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Message: 

Children with two mommies are just like any other child.

Why Am I Me?

July 27, 2018
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Why anything, really?

It feels pretentious, and it doesn't say anything. I guess it's pretty. That's what the people quoted on the back seem to be raving about: how pretty it is. I'm just lost. I can't get anything out of this book except the message, "People are different."

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Message: 

Different people are different.

Madeline

July 25, 2018
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Not sure how this book kicked off a series. Not enough to read in 1939?

It's more annoying than anything else. It doesn't do anything for me. It's not imparting any knowledge to me. It's not interesting. It's just fairly mediocre, and the art is not very well done in my opinion.

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Message: 

Appendicitis is fun!

The Snowy Day

July 23, 2018
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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.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

July 21, 2018
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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.

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