Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cold and Wet Saturday Children's Book Review

It's cold and wet outside today. Winter feels like it's here. Without Dad home I knew that we would all need the distraction of at least leaving the house once today. If we don't we start to get impatient, crabby, and generally irritable. I say we, but maybe I really just mean me.

So I loaded up the kids and headed to the library with the intention of coming home with books, not videos. (The last time the girls and I went to the library we came home with a stack of videos. I'm okay with that. But not today. I knew today I was too tempted to have a movie marathon. So we limited ourselves to one video. We even returned all the ones from our last visit.)

No book limit, as you can see. Here's some of what we got:

If I Ran the Circus, by Dr. Seuss
2 Stars... I like Dr. Seuss. Great for imagination, good for a laugh and a silly moment. A lot of words to work through when there is a two year old on my lap. I was probably as squirmy as she was, though I did manage to get all the way through the book.

Small Gifts in God's Hands, by Max Lucado
5 Stars... Run out and put a hold on this book at your local library (unless you are in my district, then don't because I want to be able to renew this one indefinitely). Beautifully illustrated it imaginatively tells the story of the boy who shares his bread and fish with Jesus and He multiplies the small gift. (Lucado does take some liberties, so don't expect it to be scripture verbatim.) My five year old son, who is tender to things of the Lord, was moved to near tears and clapped and jumped on the couch next to me, "Mom, that's amazing!" Yup! I want him to feel that way about the stories of Jesus. We'll be reading this one again and putting other Max Lucado books on hold at our local library.

Crunch Munch, by Jonathan London
3 Stars... Cute. Quick, easy giggles. I imagine Gracie will keep bringing this one back to me to read. It's playful reading.

Froggy's Sleepover, by Jonathan London
2 Stars... Cute enough I guess. Not worth picking up again when we have a whole bag of books yet to discover.

In the Night Garden, by Barbara Joosse
0 Stars... Big oops! Mercy pulled this one off the shelf and I didn't look at it. Should have put it right back. Never made it past the first page. The cover was probably a good indicator for me. But, I try not to judge a book by the cover.

Cinderalla's Rat, by Susan Meddaugh
1 Star... Made it through this one, but almost closed it three or four times. Tried to glide through it hoping that if I moved quickly the kids wouldn't sit and ponder it too long. Really? The concept of following the rat in the story was a good one, they just got carried away and ended up with a whole lot more magic than I wanted to explain to my four and five year olds.

Just a Bully, by Gina and Mercer Mayer
2 Stars... This is always a hard topic for me. Maybe it's because my husband and I think on it differently. Eric used to be bullied until he hauled off and hit the kid who was bullying him. That isn't the approach I want to advocate, but it worked. I've never found a book about bullying with which I agree. But I wasn't ever bullied, so maybe I need to go with my husband on this one, even if it seems like a more human response than a Christ-like one.

Hello Kitty: A Day with Papa
2.5 Stars... I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't have very high expectations. I liked two things about this book, it emphasized a normalcy of the dad (I think it was the dad and not the grandpa) spending time with his daughter. Second I liked that they encouraged an outdoor, active sport. I didn't like that they went and bought brand new fancy equipment before going out and playing.

Salt and Pepper at the Pike Place Market, by Carol A. Losi
3 Stars... This was quite well done. We live north of Seattle so it was fun to find a book with a bit of local interest. But I liked it beyond the local interest aspect. The artwork was engaging. My girls love dogs, so it was fun. Surprising to me, my son had it figured out what was going to happen by the first page. That didn't put me off, however, I was pleasantly surprised that it grabbed his attention enough to bother wondering what would happen. Simple story, but an enjoyable read.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, retold by Jim Aylesworth
5 Stars... I was surprised that Daniel had never heard any version of this story. It was such a fun story to read to someone for the first time. Daniel reacted beautifully. Mercy had heard it Grandma's house and kept reassuring Daniel that it was going to be okay and not to worry. This was a great version!

Rumplelstiltskin, retold by Paul O. Zelinsky
2 Stars... Nicely illustrated, but not a lot of character to this retelling of the classic.

The Teacher from the Black Lagoon, by Mike Thaler
5 Stars... Daniel recognized this one from school. He hadn't actually heard it, but they have in the classroom, so he listened carefully. A little explaining was required at the end. I like this one.

The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss
5 Stars... We love Harold and the Purple Crayon. We love this one too!

Frank and Izzy Set Sail, by Laura McGee Kvansnosky
5 Stars... This was such a delightful discovery. Mercy pulled this one off the shelf randomly. It's about a friendship between a cautious bear and an impulsive adventurous bunny. The story illustrates how the strengths of each personality compliment the other beautifully. It was so fun to read, especially when thinking about the personalities of my oldest two children. Loved it! Might have to purchase this one (and I don't buy books since discovering the library).

We've All Got Bellybuttons!, by David Martin
5 Stars... I love this book. I confess, this isn't new, we've checked it out before, but I'd forgotten about it until we stumbled onto it again in the library this morning. We haven't read this one since Gracie was old enough to enjoy it, so we'll be reading this again and again over the next couple of weeks! She was so good to do all the motions and I she has the best giggle in the whole wide world!

Hansel and Gretel, retold by James Marshall
0 Stars... Not sure what I was thinking picking it up. I know the story. Too scary and this version has language that I don't want my kids repeating.

Here Comes Mother Goose, edited by Iona Opie
2 Stars... Nothing special.

After all that reading today I had to end the day with a few pictures of me in the kids. So while the kids were putting on their pajamas I set up the tripod and shot a hundred plus pictures (I'll only post three) while I read the last two books of the day. (We still have a stack unread books for tomorrow.)

The day ended up being a day of few chores and a lot of Mommy time. It was good.

My personal star rating system:
0 Stars... Couldn't even read the whole thing to my kids.
1 Stars... Read the whole thing, just because I hate to stop halfway through.
2 Stars... Read it. Okay. Wouldn't check it out again. Probably won't even read it again while we have it still checked out.
3 Stars... Read it. Good. Will read multiple times while we have it checked out. Kid reaction will determine whether or not we'd check it out again.
4 Stars... Read it. Very good. Believe the content benefits the kids enough to make the effort to check it out again.
5 Stars... Read it. Love it. Content not only benefits the kids, but moves them.

I do NOT have a degree in Children's Literature. I didn't even major in Literature. I'm just a mom who likes to read to her three kids, ages five, four, and two. My opinions are heavily influenced by the fact that my husband and I are Christians who love Jesus and want to raise our children in the things of the Lord. If that's not you, my reviews will likely be meaningless.


  1. You are an inspriration to me ... again. I can't tell you how many times I have walked out of the library only holding DVDs.
    I need to access the "hold" aspect that the library has more often. Beautiful photos of the books but even more great of you and the kiddos.

  2. You have inspired me... once again! Great photos! Missed you this morning!

  3. Oh, I hope you do this again, I love hearing about good books! Thanks!

  4. I love the pictures of you reading to your kids! Some of those books sound really good!

  5. Think I'll stop by the children's section of the library and bring home a few books to read to myself! It's been a while since I did that, but it has happened more than once! Thanks for the reminder!