Jun 28, 2012

Red Boots

by Rosemary Wells

Cute little rhyming book about the baby bunny Max trying on his big sister's clothes. They don't fit, of course, and he puts things on in the wrong places- mittens on his ears, hat on his foot, etc- so when he tries to go play he just trips and falls down. The funny thing is that I know I've seen this same theme before in a different Max and Ruby book.  I'm more familiar with Max's New Suit. Not sure why the author made another version of basically the same story (and I thought the text in the original one simpler). This is the first time I've come across the "baby Max and Ruby" books, which is the familiar bunnies just in toddler form. We were quite fond of Max and his antics when little kids.  I remember my mom reading these to me.

rating: 2/5 ........ 12 pages, 2009 ......... find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

more opinions:
Kid Book Ratings

Jun 27, 2012

The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse

by Thornton W. Burgess

This little book focuses mostly on the efforts of a little mouse to simply survive. Danny certainly has many adventures and narrow escapes! As the book opens he is lamenting his short tail, but soon finds out that it's a benefit as a longer tail would make it easier (perhaps) for predators to grab him. He runs around under the snow to escape the foxes who try to break through and catch him. Then he narrowly misses getting eaten by an owl and escapes, injured, into Peter Rabbit's briar patch. Peter gives him refuge and soon Danny finds he can return the favor, for when Peter starts eating the bark of Farmer Brown's young peach trees, he gets caught in a snare. Peter manages to make it home in spite of his wounds and Danny helps him stay safe when Farmer Brown's boy tracks him down. The end of the book tells another short episode where Danny Meadow Mouse hides in a tin can from Reddy Fox and escapes yet again. Lessons on being content with what you have, not giving up in times of trouble, trusting your friends, having caution, avoiding greed and recognizing your talents are imbedded in this tale of animal life.

Read this one on my Kindle.

rating: 4/5 ......... 62 pages, 1915......... find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

Jun 26, 2012

Fables and Reflections

The Sandman
by Neil Gaiman

This is volume six. Morpheus and several of his siblings vie to claim the soul of a morose man. The Dream King assists a man everyone thinks is crazy to proclaim himself emperor of the United States. A Roman ruler sits on the pavement in the guise of a beggar for a day. A young Marco Polo gets lost in a sandy waste and meets two other men plus some ghosts (I think). Morpheus' grown son marries the beautiful Euridyce, but she tragically dies on the wedding day and the distraught Orpheus follows her into the underworld. In another story Morpheus' baby son Daniel visits the dreamworld during naptime and is told some wacky versions of bible stories by Eve, Cain and the raven Matthew (it was amusing to see a kid-version of the Dream King and his sister Death). My favorite of all the tales was the one where an old man tells his granddaughter a story of "the old country": a boy of the forest people comes into possession of some very valuable objects, and goes on a journey trying to find the beautiful woman featured on a necklace. The story of Orpheus and Euridyce- which spanned several chapters here- was somewhat familiar to me from mythology, and so was Baba Yaga who makes an appearance in the grandfather's tale. But other of the stories just did not make a connection with me, either I didn't understand their references or just found them dull. So again, my impression of a Gaiman book is muddled. I really only liked a few of them, and skipped several when they failed to hold my interest...

rating: 2/5 ........ 264 pages, 1993 ........ find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

more opinions:
 Rabbit Ears Book Blog
Richardmbray 
Such a Book Nerd

Jun 24, 2012

Bambi's Children

by Felix Salten

This story follows Bambi, telling of how his children grew up while he reigned as the strongest and wisest stag in the forest. It isn't nearly as good. The storyline has some close similarities, but in this case it ends when the young deer are ready to leave their parents and become independent. The most interesting parts feel more or less repeated from the prior book- one of the young deer gets rescued by a gamekeeper; but in this case it tells first-hand of her experience while she's trapped and she doesn't experience the same awkwardness as Gobo did upon returning. Hunters are not as prevalent a danger as before, and this time the story is often told from the humans' viewpoint; we hear them talking and see their motives where before it was all presented from the animals' point of view with human activity more or less a mystery. Some humans are shown to be sympathetic to the animals, others wanton killers. The fox is a threat again, and a dog that runs loose from the village and starts savaging deer for amusement. The owl becomes a creature who spouts proverbs, which frequently confuse the other animals when they refer to things from human culture. The hare is more of a nervous wreck, the birds more quarrelsome.  Even the deer seem to engage in petty quarrels- the very opening scene of the book has Bambi's children arguing like petulant human siblings, with their mother Faline being chided by a bird for spoiling them. The trees talk sometimes, but what they say doesn't really add to anything. The descriptions of nature and seasons aren't as well-written. I did enjoy the story a little, enough to finish the book, but for the most part it seemed to be focused on misunderstandings between the deer families that resulted in them refusing to associate with each other, even when the children had forgotten the grievance and wanted to make amends the parents couldn't bring themselves to. The story ended when all was finally forgiven and that was a really unsatisfying climax. Disappointment.

rating: 3/5 ........ 236 pages, 1939 ........ find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

Jun 23, 2012

bookmarks giveaway!

Some lovely leopards to accompany your next read
simply leave a comment to be entered to win this set of free bookmarks!
(sorry, open to the US and Canada only)

winner will be picked at random a week from today.

Jun 22, 2012

yet again

I know I just did a post like this, but already I've found new books to add to the list and I want to make note of it every week so it doesn't get overwhelming again! Thus:
Wild Designs by Katie Fjord- The Captive Reader
Selkie Dreams by Kristin Gleeson- The Lost Entwife
The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schiltz - Puss Reboots
Fly Away Peter by David Malouf- A Work in Progress
Laddertop by Orson Scott Card, Janice Card and Ibardolaza- At Home with Books
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater- You've GOTTA Read This! (I think this one is already on my list)

That's a lot more manageable!

Jun 21, 2012

Bambi

A Life in the Woods
by Felix Salten

This is one of my most favorite books ever. I read it many times in my childhood, but it's been years since I last visited its pages. I happened across a beautifully illustrated edition at the library and borrowed it (even though I have my own copy) to enjoy again with these new images. The paintings by Michael J. Woods really make the forest setting and animals come alive. They are so lifelike, and so expressive at the same time. I paged through the book several times after reading it, just to look at the pictures again. (click on images to view them larger)

 Bambi tells the story of the life a deer leads in the forest. It begins with his birth and follows him through the unfolding of his understanding, from the first questions he asks his mother- reminiscent of any toddlers incessant why is the sky blue? but why? - to his playful explorations in the meadow to his youthful feelings of invulnerability. He soon learns that the forest isn't safe at all, often full of dangers. For some time the exact nature of danger is unclear as his mother is unwilling to speak of it and he speculates with his playmates what it could be. But soon enough he learns about the threat of man, who seems to be an inescapable and incomprehensible horror. This combined with the hardships of his first winter make Bambi realize that life is a very serious thing indeed.

In fact, a lot of the book deals with themes of facing mortality and the constant threats to life. Bambi sees plenty of other creatures die, from his mother to other deer they associate with; a squirrel gets its throat torn out by a predator, crows attack smaller creatures, a dog relentlessly tracks down an injured fox, etc. And yet he finds plenty to delight in as well. His first experience of the mating season is a time of giddy passion, surging emotions that culminate in fights with the other bucks (although there's nothing "twitterpated" here at all). He also takes simple joy in his surroundings, the colorful flowers, birdsong, warm sunshine etc. The nature writing is wonderful, beautifully evoking the seasons and surroundings of lush plant life and bird voices. As Bambi moves into adulthood his life becomes more solitary and then he begins to associate closely with an older stag of the forest, who mentors him and shares his wisdom.

One of the most interesting parts of the books is about another deer named Gobo whom Bambi grew up with. During their first winter Gobo collapses in the snow and is rescued by a hunter. The other deer are all shocked and amazed when he reappears healthy and well later on. But even though Gobo survived at the hands of Man, he is now unfit for life in the forest and his inability to live as a wild deer is painfully illustrated. Another part of the book also shows how the animals interact with mankind: when the fox is tracked by a hound they end up arguing about their relationships to man. The fox sneers at the dog for being a traitor to animals by serving man; the dog asserts that man is good to those who work for him. Other parts of the story that also show how humans affect wildlife, as in when a massive tree is chopped down and many small creatures are suddenly homeless.

I could go on and on, but I won't tell you more because I want you to read the book! I think most people are only familiar with the Disney film version of Bambi, and that's a shame. There are few similarities, namely the early death of Bambi's mother. There are no giggling bunny and skunk friends; the Hare Bambi meets is a serious creature and the Owl he knows is a little screech owl who delights in trying to frighten others with his shrieks. There is no fire in the book, and the threat of human hunters is much more prominent. This story is so different, much deeper and so beautifully written. I wish more people would read it, especially to their children.

rating: 5/5 ........ 158 pages, 1928 ......... find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

more opinions at:
Thinking Fiction
Eyrie
jonathanandme
The Disney Revue

Jun 19, 2012

Daddy Kisses

by Anne Gutman

A sweet little board book we've had on loan from the library for some time and I figured I'd better write about it before we take it back. Each spread shows an animal nuzzling its young with a phrase describing it: Daddy wolf gives his pup a kiss on the nose then Daddy rabbit gives his bunny a kiss on the ear, and so on. Of course the book is a perfect invitation to kiss your baby on different parts of her body, while naming them, and at the last page My daddy kisses me all over, like this you have an excuse to smother your little one with kisses and get an explosion of giggles (or squirming to get away, ha ha!) The illustrations are soft and simple, and it's short which is always good for brief attention spans.

There's a companion book called Mommy Hugs which I've seen a few times at our library as well.

rating: 3/5 ....... 14 pages, 2003 ....... find it on Powell's Books or at Amazon

Jun 18, 2012

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

by Brian Selznick

An orphaned boy named Hugo lives inside the walls of a Paris train station, surreptitiously tending clocks his uncle used to work on before he disappeared. While struggling to keep his life afloat- often stealing to obtain food- he is also working on a secret project: trying to restore an automaton that he thinks will give him a secret message from his father. Then he gets caught stealing clockwork parts from an old man's toy shop, and as punishment is made to work in the shop. The old man's granddaughter is curious about him and stubbornly refuses to give up as she tries to figure out his secrets. The story is not only about a boy growing up alone, living a secret life and trying to solve a little mystery but also about unexpected friendship, the dawn of filmmaking and holding onto your dreams.... it was surprisingly how all the threads of the story came together in the end, I really wasn't expecting some of the connections and the story felt quite unique to me.

I've seen this book mentioned on quite a few blogs but never really added it to my list. Then it jumped out at me when I was idly browsing shelves at my daughter's school library last week (they have it open one day a week in the summer)- really I was following the crawling babe around to make sure she didn't cause havoc and then noticed this insanely fat book on the shelf right at my nose. I pulled it out and it was Hugo Cabret. So I decided right there to borrow and read it myself. And it was delightful. It looks really long but in fact most of the pages are pictures that tell the story in place of words, so you can get through it rather quickly. And the drawings are wonderful:


My husband has been to see the film with our daughter and he said the movie was astonishingly close to the book just in how the images translated to film alone. That makes me want to see it now, as well. And then read Wonderstruck.

rating: 3/5 ....... 533 pages, 2007 ........ find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

more opinions:
Diary of an Eccentric
Across the Page
Bookwyrme's Lair
The Book Addict
Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Jun 16, 2012

piles and piles of books

that I now want to read someday, thanks to those noted below!

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones- Things Mean a Lot
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff- Presenting Lenore
The Brides of Rollrock Islands by Margo Lanagan- Things Mean a Lot
Fledgling by Octavia Butler- A Striped Armchair
Choky by John Wyndham- Kyusi Reader
Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card- Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Partials by Dan Wells - It's All About Books
Acacia by David Anthony Durham- Opinions of a Wolf
Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult- BermudaOnion's Weblog
Wonder by R.J. Palacio - At Home with Books
Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka - Caribousmom 
Heft by Liz Moore- You've Gotta Read This!
Girl Reading by Katie Ward- Shelf Love
Seen Reading by Juile Wilson- Books Under Skin
Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany- Book Addiction
The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen- Bookfoolery and Babble
Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles - Farm Lane Books Blog
Precious Bane by Mary Webb- It's All About Books
Blackmoor by Edward Hogan- Page 247
The Iguana Tree by Michel Stone - Book Chase 
Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson- The Lost Entwife
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews- Books Under Skin
Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Megan Mehew - The Book Lady's Blog
Fauna by Alissa York - Page 247
Instruction Manual for Swallowing by Adam Marek - Books Under Skin
Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton- Caribousmom
Rufous Redtail by Helen Garrett- Across the Page 
The Call by Yannick Murphy- books i done read
The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson- Caribousmom
A Dog Named Slugger by Leigh Brill- Opinions of a Wolf
Kitty Cornered by Bob Tarte- Bookfoolery and Babble 
Crow Country by Mark Cocker- Page 247
A Gentle Plea for Chaos by Mirabel Osler- The Captive Reader
The Orchard by Theresa Weir- Shannon's Book Bag and You've Gotta Read This!
American Grown by Michelle Obama- Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Garden People by Ursula Buchan- The Captive Reader
My Natural History by Liz Primeau- The Captive Reader
How Carrots Won the Trojan War by Rebecca Rupp- Commonweeder
The Transplanted Gardener by Charles Elliot- The Captive Reader
The Potting Shed Papers by Charles Elliot- The Captive Reader
My Garden, the City and Me by Helen Babbs- The Captive Reader
Dear Friend and Gardener by Chatto and Lloyd- The Captive Reader
Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim- So Many Books
Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott- Shelf Love
Deep Country by Neil Ansell- The Captive Reader
End of the World as We Know It by Robert Goolrick- Stuff as Dreams Are Made On
The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma- Sophisticated Dorkiness 
Wild by Cheryl Strayed- Sophisticated Dorkiness
Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom- SMS Book Reviews
The World in Your Lunch Box by Claire Eamer- SMS Book Reviews
MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche- Book Addiction
Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman- The Book Lady's Blog
The Invisible Heart by Nancy Folbre - The Captive Reader
The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher- Things Mean a Lot
Trauma by Dr. James Cole- Shannon's Book Bag
Complications by Atul Gawande- Sophisticated Dorkiness
The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks- A Striped Armchair 
Winged Obsession by Jessica Speart- Sophisticated Dorkiness 
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud- Shelf Love 
A Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori- Things Mean a Lot 
Wandering Son by Takako Shimura- Things Mean a Lot

whew! I guess it's been too long since I've done this, either that or your book posts have been especially enticing lately...

Jun 15, 2012

The Adventures of Old Man Coyote

by Thornton W. Burgess

Another story about a new animal arriving in the forest and making everyone nervous. This time it is an eerie voice heard at night that frightens the smaller creatures. Eventually they figure out it's a coyote who has moved in from the West. The foxes quickly discover that the coyote is larger than them, and a competitor for the same prey. Granny Fox is determined to trick the coyote into leaving, even though she's afraid to face him herself. In the end the coyote proves that he's not afraid of them and smarter than anyone else. Even though he can quickly loose his temper, he also has a sense of generosity and fairness. The foxes begrudging admit that he'll stay among them.

The themes through this book were about judging those you've just met, honesty (or lack of it, rather- as Granny Fox was spreading rumors) and being brave. Curiously it showed two aspects of this: the skunk always put on a brave face even when he was frightened, and soon other animals decided he was brave and left him alone. Whereas Reddy Fox always brags that he's brave, but shows himself to be a coward so the other animals tease and pester him about it. There was a slight discrepancy with an earlier story here that puzzled me; in one scene here the coyote gets tricked into meeting the porcupine, an animal he's never met before and doesn't quite know how to deal with. But in The Adventures of Prickly Porky it seemed that the coyote hadn't met the porcupine at that time yet, either- he was forced into a surprise encounter with it rolling downhill. Hm.

rating: 3/5 ........ 71 pages, 1916 ........ find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

Jun 14, 2012

Animal Farm

Fables Vol. 2 
by Bill Willingham 

Second volume in the Fables series. The story in this one takes place on the farm where all the non-human fable creatures live.  Snow White and her sister Rose Red drive up to see how things are going on the Farm and find themselves in a middle of a revolution. A group led by one of the Pigs wants to storm on the human fables who live (unfairly, they feel) in New York City and then move on to take back their homelands. Violence, treachery and complications ensue. Snow White finds her sister has joined the other side, the tiger Shere Khan is stalking her, and she has to figure out who is supplying the animals with weapons and stop them. Again, I really wasn't so much taken by the storyline as intrigued by the portrayal of famous characters in a different light, but didn't get enough of that. I could have done without the violence. At one point when heads were getting blown off and bunnies toting guns, I was ready to just quit, but later picked up the book and finished it. The ending was interesting, and I am curious to see where the next volume leads, but not sure how long I'll continue in this series. I love the artwork.

rating: 3/5 ........ 128 pages, 2003 ........ find it at Powell's Books or onAmazon

more opinions:
Things Mean a Lot
Rabbit Ears Book Blog
Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Girl to the Rescue
Book Bloggy Blogg

Jun 11, 2012

Legends in Exile

Fables Vol. 1
by Bill Willingham

This is my first unintentional DNF book. I lost it today, on a walk to the park. We retraced our steps, asked at the library, it's simply missing. I'm hoping someone picked it up and will turn it in! And annoyed that I was nearly done and now have spoiled the ending for myself by starting to read the second volume, which gives a bit of a rehash at the beginning. Argh.

Well, so the premise is that all the creatures of fable, legend and fairytale (was the lion's kingdom briefly mentioned supposed to be Narnia?) have been driven out of their homelands and secretly taken up residence in New York City (except for the ones with outlandish appearances, or talking animals, who live upstate on "The Farm"). When the story opens, it's reported that Snow White's sister Rose Red has been murdered, and an investigation ensues. I'm not really big on murder mysteries so that part of the story didn't wow me much. I was more interested in the background story teased out of the characters, and the revelations of who was doing what where and why now. The Big Bad Wolf  is a detective, Snow White works for the government, Prince Charming is wooing and dumping princesses left and right. Jack of the beanstalk is a disreputable character it seems, and one of the three little pigs wanders in and out of the pages, now a fat old porker. There's lots of other interesting characters as well. I got just far enough to realize who was responsible for the crime scene, but not enough to read about why it happened. Crossing my fingers someone returns this one to the library (they only have one copy, so if it doens't show up I'm on the hook for it) so I can finish the last chapter.

abandoned ........ 128 pages, 2002 ....... find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

Jun 10, 2012

The Adventures of Prickly Porky

by Thornton Burgess

Like Mr. Mocker, this story isn't so much about a character himself as the confusion he causes in others. The porcupine is a newcomer to the forest and the other animals are impressed with his size, long teeth, and sharp quills so they keep their distance. Soon stories begin to spread about a strange, frightening creature seen at daybreak on the hill where Prickly Porky lives. It is an animal said to have no legs, head or tail, yet chases others with alarming speed. Peter Rabbit is terrified of it, even Reddy Fox and his wise Granny run away from it. Of course eventually someone figures out the mysterious creature's identity and then as each character learns what is going on they trick others into coming by when the strange beast appears so they can see them get frightened out of their wits. The last one to be fooled is Old Man Coyote, very put out indeed!

This is the first time I've read a Thornton Burgess book and wondered at the accuracy of the animal behavior it depicts (aside from the animals talking and holding parties for their friends, of course). I know that porcupines eat bark, climb trees, grunt to themselves, sleep in piles of dry leaves. But has one ever really curled himself up and rolled downhill? It sounds like a myth to me.

rating: 3/5 ........ 74 pages, 1916 ........ find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

Jun 9, 2012

The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad

by Thornton W. Burgess

Hm. There's not much really happening in The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad, I'd hardly call it adventures at all. Instead, it's mostly about Peter Rabbit's curiosity when he discovers all kinds of things he didn't know about his homely neighbor the toad. When the story begins Peter and his friends are laughing themselves silly because Mr. Toad tells them he's going to sing in the spring chorus around the pond. They're astonished to find that the relatively unattractive toad has a wonderful voice. Peter Rabbit is so impressed that he begins to pay more attention to Mr. Toad and further learns all about baby toads (tadpoles), where Mr. Toad goes in the summer and how he hides from enemies and bad weather by digging himself into the ground. He (and the reader) finds out about Mr. Toad's an astonishingly long, sticky tongue and beautifully jeweled eyes. But probably the most surprising thing of all is that Mr. Toad has something in common with the largest animal in the forest- Buster Bear. And when that discovery is made a little adventure does take place; although as is common in these books it has to do with some animals playing tricks on the others. Enjoyable reading that will teach you quite a bit about toads, in a friendly fashion! For a little summary on some facts about toads found in the book, visit Ellyanna's Discoveries.

rating: 3/5 ........ 118 pages, 1916 ........ find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

Jun 8, 2012

Blankets

by Craig Thompson

I've had Blankets on my TBR list for some time but had to put in a hold request at the library to finally get a copy in hand. I can see why it is so popular, and it certainly stands up to all the praise on other blogs (see links below). The first thing that impressed me about this book was its length. At almost 600 pages, it is by far the most hefty graphic novel I've ever read. And yet it was quick to get through. I only lingered over it to appreciate the artwork and reabsorb some of the scenes.

The story is about the author's childhood, coming-of-age and innocent awakening to the wonders of love. It's painful to read at times, lovely at others. Craig grew up in a Christian family with well-meaning parents who managed to make him feel guilty about his body and plenty of other things as well, including his gift for drawing. He shared a bed with his younger brother and a lot of the memory parts are of them playing together, squabbling over space, cringing from their father's anger, consoling each other. As he grows older, they drift apart and Craig finds himself more alone as he doesn't fit in well at school. Even at religious camp he can't meld with the crowd and join in the mass mentality; he always feels apart. But there he meets Raina, and almost instantly loves spending time with her. Their friendship develops to the point where after camp is over, they write long letters pouring out secrets and affection. Finally Craig convinces his parents to let him go visit Raina. He finds that her family isn't perfect either: her parents are facing divorce, she is often left alone to care for two adopted siblings with special needs, and her older sister's baby. Even so they manage to find plenty of time to spend alone, and grow even closer. Long walks in the snowy woods, long talks in her bedroom, clandestine snuggling at night... When Craig returns home he wants to continue their connection but Raina feels that a long-distance relationship is too much strain. He also starts questioning his religious upbringing and trying to reconnect with his brother, in the process of all that seeking to find himself.

It really is beautifully expressed, everything from the awkward tenderness of first love to the sibling ties and rivalry to the troubled relationships with parents. The drawings filled with patterns and dreams felt wonderfully expressive of emotion. And I loved the scenery. Some panels just showed the trees reaching to the sky, or the houses sitting in drifts of snow, or the arrangement of a room, and it made the story feel so real and vivid in a place, just like paragraphs of description can do. I think so far this is my favorite graphic novel, even though quite a bit of it can be hard to take in- there is prejudice, unfairness and unkindness, hints of child abuse and neglect. But the wonderful moments and tenderness make up for all that.

rating: 4/5 ....... 582 pages, 2003 ........ find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

more opinions:
The Novel World
Shelf Love
Rivers I Have Known
Book Bloggy Blogg
Book Dragon
regular rumination

Jun 7, 2012

Splash!

by Flora McDonnell

It is a blistering hot day. The elephants are hot. The tiger is hot. The rhino is hot. One by one the animals all follow baby elephant to to water where they splash around and cool off. Very simple story with wonderful pictures. They're lively, expressive, textured and quite unique. I think that's what drew me to pick up this book. My favorite spread is where the tiger lolls across two entire pages with his ears drooping and his tongue hanging out. All the animals look so happy when they finally get into the water, and the splashing pages are full of action. Fun little book.

rating: 3/5 ....... 32 pages, 1999 ....... find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

Jun 6, 2012

Now I Eat my ABC's

by Pam Abrams photographs Bruce Wolf

Clever little board book that has pictures of food in the shape of letters to form the alphabet. A isn't for apple here, it's for asparagus, B is lines of blueberries, C my favorite fruit, a slice of cantaloupe. Food letters of note? I for ice cubes, Q for quesadilla, U for udon noodles, V some lovely vanilla beans and the always- troublesome X? x-tra cheese on a pizza. I like the picture of Y for yogurt- a bowl of granola with a thick creamy yogurt Y in the middle. My seven-year-old was more intrigued with this book than the baby I borrowed it for! It's also fun to sing the ABC song putting in the words now I eat instead of now I know. Makes for lots of giggles. Yum yummy!

rating: 4/5 ....... 16 pages, 2004 ........ find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

Jun 3, 2012

Whitefoot the Wood Mouse

by Thornton W. Burgess

This little story illustrates clearly how difficult life is at the bottom of the food chain! Whitefoot the wood mouse has enemies on all sides- from birds in the air that would swoop down on him to predators on the ground. So he thinks he's quite safe when he finds a new home inside the farmer's shed, under a pile of wood. It's all quiet and cozy until the farmer and his son busy themselves using the shed to make sugar from maple sap. Whitefoot is curious and watches them until it seems their activities will endanger his snug little home!

Then there's an odd gap in the story and we find Whitefoot living out in the open again, in a little hole. He has to move when threatened by a weasel, and goes through some exhausting travels trying to find a new suitable hiding place, while at the same time dodging his many enemies. Finally Whitefoot makes a new, safe home and then something wonderful happens: Whitefoot meets another wood mouse and falls in love. Everything is roses until his new little mouse wife wants them to move! and her idea of a perfect house doesn't really suit Whitefoot at all.

Another charming Burgess story that teaches about how wild animals live while at the same time encouraging children to be kind and fair to others. I read this one on my kindle.

rating: 4/5 ........ 112 pages, 1922 ........ find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon

The Adventures of Grandfather Frog

by Thornton W. Burgess 

Grandfather Frog and his cousin old Mr. Toad have a little rivalry going on. Whenever they visit together old Mr. Toad boasts of things he's seen traveling in the wide world, and Grandfather Frog claims that sticking close to home is the best. Finally the toad goads Grandfather Frog enough that he decides to leave his pond and do some traveling himself. All his friends urge him to stay at home but their worries that Grandfather Frog doesn't know how to take care of himself in the wide world only sting his pride and make him more determined to go. Of course he has plenty of mishaps on his adventures, from getting hot and tired away from water so long, to having a frightful scare when the farmer's boy intends to catch him. Even after a narrow escape he still stubbornly continues on and it takes more serious scares that threaten his life before the old frog swallows his pride and goes back to his safe home, very much relieved to be there!

 I think this little book teaches children pretty clearly that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Others may look like they're better off than you, but different things suit different people and we shouldn't envy what others have but be content with what we've got. It also teaches quite a bit about nature, particularly things about frogs: what they like to eat, how dependent they are on water, their modes of travel, etc. I found it quite an engaging little story that has a lot going on under the surface.

 rating: 4/5 ....... 96 pages, 1915 ......... find it at Powell's Books or on Amazon