meh

Gugu's House

January 7, 2018
Subheader: 

And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the rain? Before it destroys my house, I mean.

Gugu's work is not really my kind of art, but it's not bad. I wouldn't say there's an awesome message to get out of it, but it's a pretty good book. As far as I can tell, it treats the Zimbabwe culture and the specific person that this is based on rather respectfully.

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Message: 

Nature is cyclical.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

January 3, 2018
Subheader: 

A decent introduction to street art.

The book doesn't really talk about mental illness much, and the story part of the book also doesn't mention that Basquiat died at age 27 from a drug overdose. The reality is that he died quite young and was addicted to drugs, so his story was a bit more tragic than this children's book accounts for.

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Message: 

Jean-Michel Basquiat had a very interesting life.

Cock-a-Doodle Doo

December 20, 2017
Subheader: 

Cock-a-doodle-whoop-dee-doo.

This is one of those like super old books (1939) that just tells this meandering story with incredibly detailed pictures, alternating between black and white and full color. It just goes on and on. The story just meanders. It doesn't go anywhere. It's not terribly interesting. At least there's some conflict in there for a slight bit of interest, but there's no point to it.

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Message: 

The world is dangerous for baby chicks.

Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual

December 28, 2017
Subheader: 

The main "wonder" is what kind of drugs the author/illustrator was taking.

This is a very disturbing book on many levels. It's not "bad" disturbing; it's just "creepy" disturbing. It's not, like, "keep away from children at any cost" disturbing. I really don't have much else to say about this except how profoundly disturbing this book is.

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Message: 

Birds are cool, and they're in danger of going extinct?

Extra Yarn

December 26, 2017
Subheader: 

Maybe she should learn to crochet or something.

It's pretty. It's fairly innocuous. It's just a weird book. It doesn't go anywhere. There's no reason for her to be making these things. There's no impetus for it, and the only conflict resolves itself. I guess the message is, "Don't steal things." I don't think most people nowadays need to be taught that.

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Message: 

Don't steal things. Or, trucks need sweaters, too.

Chrysanthemum

December 24, 2017
Subheader: 

Deus ex flora.

Why couldn't the music teacher just say, "Guys, seriously, shut up. Flowers are awesome," or anything like that? What is a kid reading this book going to do if somebody makes fun of their name and nobody cool has a name like theirs? It's stupid. The book isn't bad. It doesn't send a bad message. It's just that it doesn't offer a real solution to the real problem that it shows.

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Message: 

Don't be embarrassed about your name because cool people have weird names too.

Lucky Song

December 14, 2017
Subheader: 

I feel lucky I don't have to read this again.

The book is just a list of "She wanted X" and "So she did Y." The only thing that really happens is her flying a kite. And at the end it tells you to restart the book from the beginning. It doesn't go anywhere, doesn't say anything, and is just a list of mundane events, making it boring.

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Message: 

None.

George Washington's Teeth

December 12, 2017
Subheader: 

I cannot tell a lie. But this book can.

The book almost seems like it's trying to set the record straight about Washington never actually having wooden teeth, but it fails at this because it's not accurate about what actually did happen, even according to its own timeline! At least it's not marketed as a non-fiction book, but kids aren't going to know that, and most parents probably won't even notice. But I guess ultimately the book isn't really about what the teeth are made out of, it's about dealing with problems.

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Message: 

Washington had problems with his teeth that were completely fixed by hippopotamus ivory dentures.

Big Red Lollipop

December 10, 2017
Subheader: 

Maybe she was just hangry.

Parents need to be a voice of reason, and curtail the behavior of the youngest children when it encroaches on the rights and happiness of the elder, just as they would tell the older child to stop pushing over the youngest when the youngest is learning to walk and much smaller. And parents also need to understand that children are often better judges of the attitudes of their peers than parents, especially when cultural differences are involved. I hope I never act like the mother in this book.

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Message: 

Younger siblings are jerks, but if you respect and forgive them they'll grow out of it.

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