Why do I write children's book reviews?

November 5, 2017

I see other people talking about poor quality, or questionable content in classic children's books on the internet, and even in responses to my own reviews on YouTube or Amazon. A lot of people don't understand why someone can get this worked up about a children's book. It seems to them that if it's only a children's book, it's not supposed to be high quality literature. It's not written for adults.

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What Do You Say, Dear?

November 3, 2017
Subheader: 

I have changed my mind on this.

I remembered really liking this book when I read it almost a year ago. But now that I look at it again, I'm frankly disappointed by the gender breakdown of the situations. The boy character gets to receive a pet baby elephant, rescue a princess from a dragon, portray a cowboy, be bitten by a dinosaur, be the groom at a wedding, attend the princess's ball, visit London to dine with the Queen, fly an airplane to visit the Duchess, and invite all his friends over for a party. The girl character gets to pick flowers, be rescued, be a nurse, go shopping, be the bride in a wedding, be a Princess, be a Queen, be a Duchess, and be captured.

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Message: 

Be polite.

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest

November 1, 2017
Subheader: 

Ugh, what a preachy book. Gag me!

She's a great artist. I would say she's not that good of a writer. It's the equivalent of drawing diagrams of everything. You don't need to spell it out. When you do that, it becomes uninteresting to read. The person who's reading it feels like you're talking down to them. They feel like you're saying you're better than they are. Nobody wants to read a book like that.

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Message: 

The rain forest is worth preserving.

The Dragon and the Unicorn

October 30, 2017
Subheader: 

Nauseating amount of visual detail. Sickeningly heavy-handed writing.

So this book is pretty, but you can barely go a page without it preaching about how humans are destroying the natural world. I mean, clearly, that's bad. That's why we have things like national parks. But the way that it gets its message across is so didactic that it's skin-crawling.

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Message: 

Humans are evil and are destroying the world.

Three by the Sea

October 26, 2017
Subheader: 

Found this book a bore and it almost made me snore, down by the sea.

Not to be confused with "Three By The Sea" by Mini Grey, which appears to be significantly more interesting. It kind of meanders and doesn't go anywhere.

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Message: 

Children's stories are badly written.

Winter

October 24, 2017
Subheader: 

Doesn't overreach itself.

The language is pretty, but not ornamental, and that's one of the reasons it's so short. It's not great, but it's decent. There's just not much to it.

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Message: 

None.

Wagon Wheels

October 22, 2017
Subheader: 

Child endangerment in the 1870s.

So it's a fictionalized account of a story that somebody told about somebody else. I'm not saying for sure it's inaccurate, but tales do change in the telling and retelling. It's definitely not something somebody would do today.

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Message: 

Children in the 1870s had pretty stark lives. Or, persistence is important.

Green Eggs and Ham

October 20, 2017
Subheader: 

In the words of Ponyo, "HAM!"

If you take it from the perspective that a child will likely take it, I'm probably reading too much into it. A child will look at it and think, "Oh, there's a lot of food I don't like, and my parents sometimes resort to ridiculous lengths in order to get me to eat food that I claim to not like, and it sometimes turns out that I like it," so I think they'll identify with that. I guess the important part is that the main character does like it.

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Message: 

Try new foods. Or, if you keep annoying somebody enough, they'll give in to what you're asking for.

My Mama Says There Aren't Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, or Things

October 18, 2017
Subheader: 

Maybe there aren't any ghosts, but there definitely are things.

I guess the lack of realism in the drawings of the monsters is what made this not as scary to me as a child, and that monsters were not really what I worried about. The realism of the story and the humanizing of the mother are really good.

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Message: 

Parents are human, too, but they really love you and want what's best for you.

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