meh

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.

Blueberries for Sal

September 23, 2018
Subheader: 

Garumpf! Indeed.

Sal's mother is not nearly as upset as you would expect when she finds a bear in place of her daughter. Isn't she worried that her daughter has encountered a bear, and is possibly mauled? Nope. She just complacently looks for her.

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Message: 

Bear cubs and human children are similar. They both wander off and like to eat blueberries.

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink

September 21, 2018
Subheader: 

Some princesses dress in pink, though.

For a book that's clearly intended to show that not all princesses are the same, or girly, it sure seems obsessed with sparkly crowns. I wish there was at least one princess that didn't explicitly wear a sparkly crown in this book.

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Message: 

You don't have to wear pink to be a princess. Or, princesses can't wear pink.

The Story of Ferdinand

September 19, 2018
Subheader: 

How disturbing this book is depends on the reader's knowledge of bullfights.

What what the heck? How did this book and the story that it tells become so popular? I vaguely remember the 1938 Disney animated short. It was only published two years prior to that, in 1936, and it shows. The writing is very simplistic, and it feels so rhythmically slow compared to modern books, with the exception of the ones written for very little children.

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Message: 

Some people like to smell flowers, and that's okay. You don't have to be violent.

The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant

September 17, 2018
Subheader: 

Little elephant, big plot holes.

It's not explained how the elephants know about cars and clothing, and why they're so impressed by it. Are they supposed to be intelligent, or simple-minded and easily amused? I don't know what the purpose of this book is. There's so many holes in the universe and the story that is told that it doesn't make a lot of sense. The characters motivations are really unclear, and it ends up being really bizarre.

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Message: 

Elephants want to be more like people.

The Little Engine That Could

September 15, 2018
Subheader: 

Good message, boring story.

It's just really a product of its time. I'm pretty sure it's not interesting enough for most of today's kids. There's gratitude in it, which is nice. There's helping others, which is nice. There's believing in yourself, which is nice. But it's really not that much more interesting than "The Little Red Caboose" except that it's got female trains in it.

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Message: 

Believe in yourself, and help others out.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

September 13, 2018
Subheader: 

Good message, potentially scary story.

I just think it's potentially upsetting that the child turns into a rock and stays that way for a long time. His parents are distraught (although I suppose it would be worse if they weren't). Clearly in this universe, magic is extremely powerful and permanent. If it was something a little less drastic, and he didn't stay that way for almost a year, this would be a good book. I really love the scientific moment, and the message of appreciating what you have. Maybe when my kids are old enough to completely understand that magic isn't real, like at age seven or eight, I might read this to them.

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Message: 

Our loved ones and family are the most important things in our lives. Or, be careful what you wish for.

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