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Posts Tagged ‘Bedtime Books’


Read Friday Night

My Very First Book of Shapes by Eric Carle

Imagine me heaving a big sigh right here. This is a cute book. But this is not a good “story time” book. There isn’t really a story, more of a matching game. And the book is constructed very awkwardly. It’s split into two sets of flip pages. The top pages are standard shapes (circle, square, rectangle) in black. The bottom pages are real-life representations of those shapes, but not in top-bottom matching order. You must flip through the pages, matching them up yourself.

Like I said, it’s a cute book. Eric Carle is a well-loved children’s author. But blah, I don’t like this book. I can see what they were trying to do, in order to help children recognize and match the different shapes. But I think this was not a good way to do this in book form. I don’t like pop-up books for the same reason. Books are for reading, in my opinion. Water Boy has accidentaly destroyed every pop-up book my mother-in-law has given us, and she keeps insisting on giving him more. If you want them to pull, play, and tug on things, get them some nifty manipulatives or make some. I have a collection of wine corks just begging to be played with. I also have a book about Things You Can Make With Corks, but that’s another post.

I just can’t recommend this book. It’s too complicated, in my opinion, for the audience it was intended for.

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Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Where to begin.

Eat, Pray, Love is an autobiographical account of Liz Gilbert’s one-year journey to find herself, god, and balance. After suffering an excruciating divorce and a spectacularly failed rebound relationship, she goes on a year long trip around the world to Italy, India, and Indonesia to basically reboot. Spending four months in each place, the book tells the story of the healing, enjoyment, and of course, food, that she experiences.

And I could care less. The author is just so boo-hoo pathetic, it made my skin itch. I got tired of hearing about her breakdowns and crying jags about 15 pages in. I have absolutely every sympathy for people who suffer from depression, but very little for those who suffer from, oh, pity poor me. I was also slightly bothered by the notebook she writes in, where she talks to herself, and claims it is god writing back.

I am not a religious person. I wouldn’t even say I’m spiritual. Down to Earth, practical, academic, these are the terms that come to mind when I try to picture a religion for myself. Perhaps that’s part of the problem I had with this book. The word “pray” is in the title, and pray she does. She cries to god, she moans to god, she throws herself on a few bathroom floors for god. And I feel that it is somehow insincere, that she is in love with the idea of “God” rather than really religious. She loves having a Guru, she loves feeling devout and closeting herself in an Ashram in India for four months, she loves being able to say she meditates every morning and every evening. She is in love with faith. I was so tired of hearing about Liz Gilbert by the end of the book, and reading the blurb at the back about her “new book coming in 2009 about her unexpected second marriage” made me want to gag.

It must be nice for her, to be able to drop her old life and responsibilities and go out and find whatever it is she thinks she needs. I’d personally love to globe-trot, myself, but I don’t have the time or the money or the round-the-clock childcare it would take for me to do that. I sometimes feel that she is saying, to be balanced and whole as a person, you should be able to travel to Italy, India, Indonesia, and wherever the hell else you want if the mood strikes. It’s very classist, in my opinion, and also seems extremely privileged. Many of the people she meets and writes about are similarly white and upper-class, not to mention very well-educated. I feel like, if she hadn’t been blond, thin, white, and beautiful, she wouldn’t have been able to take this trip and write this whiny book.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed reading about the people she met. I do feel that many of her encounters may have been embellished or added through “artistic license” but they were still interesting characters. I cared more for reading about the people around her then I did for reading about Liz Gilbert, the main character. If only she would write about other people besides herself all the time I would love her. But as it is, I will not be picking up her second book.

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Read Monday Night

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
Visually interpreted by Graeme Base

Based on the poem by Lewis Carroll from Through the Looking Glass, this book is a visual and aural feast to the imagination. Illustrated by Graeme Base of Animalia fame, you could easily sit for hours pouring over the fantastical creatures detailed on the pages. One of the best aspects, of course, are the words invented by Carroll, such as this opening phrase:

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

You don’t know what the words mean, but you can almost infer from the context and organization. This would be a great exercise with an older reader, to try and think of new words, or new meanings for words. For a younger pre-reader or toddler, I really think the text is a little beyond them, and could possibly cause confusion. However, when read with this beautifully illustrated version, you can almost skip the words and just look at pictures. The book does have many pages with no words at all, Jabberwocky actually being a relatively short poem.

Be warned, the illustrated Jabberwocky creature can seem scary to some children, and the ending page may also disturb them, being comprised of a two-page spread of fantastical creature’s heads on a trophy wall. But I do recommend this to older readers and to those toddlers and pre-readers who aren’t too sensitive.

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Read Sunday Night

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch

This is one of my favorites. A princess that doesn’t play the damsel in distress, but instead goes out and rescues her prince from the evil dragon. What mom wouldn’t get behind that. Oh, and did I mention she does it in a brown paper bag, as in the title? This title has some great descriptive pictures, one of my favorites being the first one, where you see Princess Elizabeth is totally in love with Prince Ronald, but he is brushing her off. This is visual foreshadowing. Something is Going On there. We find out later on that Prince Ronald is actually a shallow douche and Elizabeth would have been better off without him anyway.

I love, love, love how she doesn’t have to physically match a knight in shining armor, but instead uses her smarts to dupe the dragon (although I also wouldn’t mind a story where the girl slays the evil beast). There is one line that mentions the dragon leaving a trail of burned forests and horse bones that some parent might choose to leave out due to its somewhat graphic nature. But on the whole, great pictures, great story, and engaging for any level of reader. I highly recommend this book.

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Read Saturday Night

Franklin is Messy by Paulette Bourgeois

This is also a book from a favorite children’s series, the Franklin the Turtle books. Great for any age of mess maker, we see the consequences of being messy and not cleaning up after yourself. Franklin is trying to find a favorite toy, but his room is sooo messy that he can’t find it. While searching for a puzzle to give back to a friend, he accidentally breaks the toy he was looking for because he couldn’t see it under a pile of junk and steps on it. I love the detail in these books, it’s very easy to believe that Franklin is a real little turtle boy with real kid problems.

Another point in their favor: when he’s off playing “knights” with his friends, he and another boy, Bear, say that next time they play, they’ll rescue Lady Beaver because she’s the damsel in distress. Beaver states that she would rather play a knight, and the boys shrug and go with it, changing her character to Sir Lady Beaver. It seems like a nice added lesson above, “Don’t Be Messy” that girls can play knights and save kings, too, and it’s No Big Deal.

The pictures are bright and interesting, and the words are simple and easy to understand, but without being too boring for big kids. With many other titles to choose from, this a good series for any age of reader.

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Read Friday Night

Just Me and My Little Brother by Mercer Mayer

This cute book is part of the Little Critter series that I personally grew up loving. It’s a good book for toddlers or older kids who are about to become older siblings. As you read through the book, try and have them imagine what they will do with their new little brother or sister, just like Little Critter does. I like that it talks a lot about the older sibling teaching things to the younger, and the two of them sticking together against bullies and snowball wars. It’s a good lesson for any siblings, really.

With short but interesting sentences and well-drawn, vivid pictures of all different animal children, it’s visually appealing to all ages, too. Check out the rest of series for other great reads.

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