meh

The Gruffalo

October 25, 2018
Subheader: 

Nobody's as gruff as a gruffalo.

As in most "trickster tales", it relies on the "tricked" characters being complete idiots. For me, this doesn't paint the trickster as clever or intelligent, just lucky and dishonest. If the mouse wasn't trying to save his own life, this would have a bad message, but as it is, it's just middle-of-the-road. It's perfectly reasonable to lie to somebody to save your own life.

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Message: 

People who try to hurt you are stupid, and will fall for obvious tricks.

Who Has What?: All About Girls' Bodies and Boys' Bodies

October 27, 2018
Subheader: 

Doesn't tackle the hard questions.

It doesn't talk about, or even leave room for transgender or intersex people. It's really basic. It takes the entire book to basically only say: 'Girls have vaginas, ovaries, and uteruses, and boys have penises and sperm.' That's it. That is the only information you can get from this book.

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Message: 

Boys and girls have different bodies.

Amazing You

October 23, 2018
Subheader: 

Not enough here to be useful.

It's not really helpful. It's just not useful to anybody having a complex discussion. I mean, yeah, preschoolers are going to understand it, but there's important things you need to be discussing with preschoolers in addition to this-- People not touching them inappropriately and similar ideas, because you need to really talk about that before it might happen.

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Message: 

Boys and girls have different bodies, and different parts of them are used in making babies somehow.

Everyone Poops

October 19, 2018
Subheader: 

Surprisingly boring.

I am attempting to not encourage that sort of humor in my children. I'm not trying to discourage it, but I'm also trying to make sure that they're not ashamed of the fact that they poop. I guess if a child had a shameful association with defecation, maybe this would be a useful book to them. It's very factual.

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Message: 

Everyone poops.

10,000 Dresses

October 15, 2018
Subheader: 

Good message, spotty execution.

It may be unfortunate that it needs to be more obvious, but I think that it's important that Laurel be explicitly recognized as somebody who is doing the right thing and not just kind of be assumed to be doing the right thing because she's at the end of the book.

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Message: 

Sometimes a person who has the body of a boy feels like she is a girl instead. Or, everyone should be accepted for who they are inside.

Introducing Teddy

October 13, 2018
Subheader: 

Good message, lackluster execution.

It's cute, but there's not a lot to it. I guess the subtitle, "A gentle story about gender and friendship," is a good description. Gentle, slow-paced, and brief.

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Message: 

It's okay to express the gender that you feel, even if that gender is not the way you externally appear.

Finding Santa: The Adventure of Greedy Elf

October 11, 2018
Subheader: 

Good try, but it needs more work.

I hope this doesn't discourage the author from being creative. She's clearly trying hard to make a labor of love, in contrast to the many books published by some publishing houses that just seem to be churned out with no care given to their quality. In our culture with our obsession with individuality and standing on our own, it can be hard to see that we need others' help, and it can be hard to let go of part of a creative vision and allow others to add input.

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Message: 

Elves can be mean, too.

Who are You?

October 1, 2018
Subheader: 

As The Caterpillar said, "Explain yourself."

I feel like there's not enough here. What's here is good, but it's just so sparse. There's a lot of additional text for "grown-ups," but maybe that information should be part of the main text.

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Message: 

There's a bunch of different genders.

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.

Frog and Toad are Friends

September 27, 2018
Subheader: 

Not as good as "Toot and Puddle."

The stories do show quite a bit of compassion from Frog to Toad. Toad is kind of the standard "Gloomy Gus" stereotype, sort of like Bert and Ernie, where Toad is Bert, and Frog is Ernie. Frog is more rambunctious and outgoing, trying to enjoy himself but still with an empathetic side (except when he lies to his friend about the month).

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Message: 

Various. It's okay to lie to your friends to avoid being lonely. Do nice things for others. It's okay to make fun of people for wearing ugly clothes. Stories are boring. Remind people that you enjoy their company.

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