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Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals

December 23, 2018

Tries too hard to be funny, and doesn't quite deliver.

I'm definitely in support of all books that try to take the parent into account. If this book entertains parents enough to want to read it to a pre-verbal child, I think that's great. But overall, I was not that impressed by it. It's not great, it's just okay.

Message

Baby, you are loved.

Teddy’s Favorite Toy

December 16, 2018

Doing the right thing is the least you can do.

The best thing about it is that his favorite toy is a doll, and absolutely nothing is mentioned about it being unusual. It's not the story of how some other character came to accept the fact that he's a boy who plays with dolls.

Message

Moms are awesome and will do what is needed to help you.

The Daddy Book

December 2, 2018

Pretty run-of-the-mill Todd Parr.

It's nothing to run out and buy unless you're starved for books about daddies, and I think there are a lot of those out there. It's the kind of thing that would fit right in at a pediatrician's office: bland, rather inclusive, and inoffensive.

Message

There are lots of different kinds of daddies.

Donkey-Donkey

November 15, 2018

Unfortunate-Unfortunate.

This book would be much better (although still probably not an amazing book) if Donkey-Donkey found his own inner strength at the end in accepting his ears the way they were at the beginning. Maybe even found some benefit to holding them that way, or their length, instead of just finding problems with every other way and defaulting to the original because 'that's what donkeys do.' Or maybe he could have found some crazy way of holding his ears that nobody else did, and become a local attraction. I don't know.

Message

Rely on others to validate your self-worth.

Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry

November 25, 2018

Describes the problem, but offers no real solutions.

I'm conflicted about this book. I haven't been around anybody with untreated bipolar disorder (which, according to the author's note, is what this book is supposed to depict the mother as having), but given some anecdotal evidence from friends, the mother's behavior is not very common for those who suffer from bipolar, and seems more like someone suffering from drug or alcohol addiction.

Message

Some parents have mental illness.

Making Animal Babies

November 18, 2018

Useful for animals, not for people.

I guess you could technically use this to describe where babies come from to a kid but that doesn't seem to be its purpose. It spends so much time discussing other things that aren't relevant to human sexuality that either the writer was just really interested in different types of animal reproduction (I mean, it is mildly interesting that sponges, say, reproduce by budding), or was intentionally trying to obscure the information about people. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and just assume he was a reproductive biologist.

Message

Different animals reproduce in different ways.

The Gruffalo

October 25, 2018

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.

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

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.

Message

Boys and girls have different bodies.

The Wolves in the Walls

October 31, 2018

Great book, just not for the younger crowd.

I really loved the fact that Lucy is not only the one who figures out what is happening before anybody else does, but challenges everybody else on why they are actually afraid of this. But it's never outright pointed out that there's no reason to be afraid of it, and even at the end when the wolves are shown running away from the house, the family brandishing their chair legs, it's still done in a creepy style, the wolves and people as silhouettes, with weird smoke in the sky and a dark house. The idea is great, the execution is great, it's just not for the fainthearted child.

Message

Just because something is traditional, that doesn't mean it's right. And don't be afraid of wolves in the walls.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

October 29, 2018

Let's try to understand each other a little bit more.

I think it's a great book, because it shows something that kids, like my four-year-old, would totally do. When he had a new pair of shoes, he walked into preschool telling everybody about them, even though we got there late and the teacher was talking to the other kids. He can't hold his enthusiasm inside, and that's an extremely common thing for kids. They have to learn respect for other people and their time, especially when others are trying to learn in a group context.

Message

Making a mistake is not permanent. You can fix things that you did wrong. Or, when you're at school, you need to let the teacher talk without distracting the other children.