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Topher Payne's "Topher Fixed It"

August 3, 2020

Two bad books I haven't had a chance to devote a full review to - "The Giving Tree" and "The Rainbow Fish", rewritten to be good!

The Happy Day

July 19, 2020

I can’t figure out the point.

Animals do hibernate, but they don't hang out in large groups around whatever flower they can find. And I don't think anybody would argue that it's trying to be realistic in that sense. It's not trying to teach us anything scientific. It's just trying to make a silly story about animals and a flower and it's... boring. It's really boring.

Message

Spring comes after winter.

Rain Drop Splash

July 12, 2020

Doesn’t make much of a splash.

The length of time over which the book's events occur is very nebulous. How much of it is literal? Metaphorical?

Message

Water flows from rain and down the mountains, and eventually ends up in the ocean.

The Storm Book

July 26, 2020

Don’t use it for scientific accuracy and you’ll probably be fine.

Come on. Rainbows don't have a purpose. And they don't always happen after a storm. They might even happen before a storm. You could even make one with a garden hose. And you can definitely have a storm that doesn't end with a rainbow, which raises the question of how this mother would know the storm was over.

Message

Storms are pretty to look at.

Eddie the World’s Greatest Creature

July 8, 2020

Creature Feature

It's a decent book. It's got an interesting idea, but the execution of the story could use a little work. It feels like it should offer some more reasons that he would want to be himself instead of this weird other animal. And it's unclear whether he's saying that he himself is the best animal, or that humans are the best animal.

Message

Be yourself. Or, humans are the best animal.

Lumberjack and Friends to the Rescue!

April 27, 2020

The plot needs rescuing.

He gets in an airplane and flies to Scotland to fix his aunt's roof. I'm not sure why he can't just send her money and hire someone in Scotland to help her. It'd probably be cheaper. Plus, he's a lumberjack. He cuts down trees; he doesn't fix roofs. He's not a roofer, that's a completely different job.

Message

Sometimes people need their roofs fixed. Or, fly across the world to do minor chores for your loved ones.

Krista the Superhero

April 20, 2020

Averagehero.

This was written by an eight-year-old. It's obvious that it was written by an eight-year-old. I believe that the writing is fairly typical for eight-year-olds, though my kids aren't that old yet so I don't have a lot to compare it to. It's definitely clear that it's written by a kid, and she doesn't have a very good concept of story structure yet. It starts off saying, "A girl named Krista have [sic] always wished to become a superhero. Could I become a superhero? She thought."

Message

It's important to preserve the art of an eight-year-old.

Pedro, the Angel of Olvera Street

February 22, 2020

Don’t angels make people freak out?

It teaches a bit about the culture and holidays of Mexican Americans in Los Angeles, but I imagine it's rather outdated. I wonder what Olvera Street is like nowadays, almost 75 years later.

Message

This is how Mexican Americans live in Los Angeles.

The Most Wonderful Doll in the World

February 23, 2020

The most wonderful doll was inside you all along.

It's a fairly preachy book, but it doesn't really explain what it is she's doing wrong or whether she's aware of it. And then it doesn't really deal with the consequences. It's kind of like "Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine" except that where SBM has kind of an over-the-top consequence, this book really doesn't have any consequence.

Message

Your imagination is always better than reality. Or, reality/growing up sucks.

Little Lost Lamb

March 1, 2020

The metaphor breaks down when you examine it.

The shepherd is explicitly a boy, though it's not clear exactly how old he is. The sheep is an actual sheep, and not even a particularly useful one at that (black wool was less desirable). And I've read "Where the Red Fern Grows"-- I know that in a battle of dog vs. mountain lion, mountain lion usually wins.

Message

Sheep are worth risking your life over.