Month: June 2012

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

more opinions:
Kid Book Ratings

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 might make it easier 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

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

more opinions:
Richardmbray 
Such a Book Nerd

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

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.

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 StiefvaterYou\’ve GOTTA Read This! (I think this one is already on my list)

That\’s a lot more manageable!

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

more opinions at:
Eyrie
jonathanandme

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

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

more opinions:
Diary of an Eccentric
Across the Page
Bookwyrme\’s Lair
The Book Addict

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

A Dog Named Slugger by Leigh Brill- Opinions of a Wolf
Kitty Cornered by Bob Tarte
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…

DISCLAIMER:

All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

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