Month: December 2012

In the Jungle
by Kingfisher Books

Beautiful clear photographs of cute baby animals introduce toddlers to creatures that inhabit the jungle. The book features an orangutan, frogs, tapir, gorilla, elephant, tiger and lemur (is that a jungle animal?) There\’s a little description telling something about each animal and a feature of its behavior: the tapir\’s spots help it hide in the foliage, a lemur likes to sunbathe, elephants cool off in the mud, etc. The text has some fun variations going on, with letters bending, changing shape and doing other irregular things to help emphasize the action or characteristic described. It\’s quite fun, very attractive and a bit educational all at the same time.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 14 pages, 2011

by Lucy Cousins

I remember reading Maisy books with my older daughter when she was small, and now I\’m discovering them all over again for her little sister. Maisy is a little mouse with animal friends. She\’s featured in board books, often with lift-the-flaps (which is always fun but I have to guard against enthusiastic little hands tearing them!) The pictures are simple and bold with bright, clean colors. This one shows Maisy in each picture getting ready to do something, and the text on the facing page has little pictures of the objects involved. When you lift the flap it shows what Maisy does with all those things. For example, on one page it shows eggs, butter, flour and candles, Maisy on the facing page is stirring in a bowl. What is she doing? Lift the flap, and there she is looking proud with a finished cake! The teaching moment of deducing what activity might use each group of objects is only enhanced by the progression of all the pictures- it turns out that Maisy is doing things specifically to get ready for a big event at the end. My little girl loves these books so much that she even says the name; she\’ll bring me a book repeating \”May-sie, May-sie\” insistently until I read it. We\’re going to have to find more than just the three I\’ve currently borrowed from the library.

Rating: 4/5 ……. 14 pages, 2003

by Kitty Richards

Cute little counting book full of adorable furry bunnies and other forest animal friends. The details of the background foliage, flowers and textures of grass, pebbles, water ripples etc really make it lovely. What is a very simple concept ends up being a book full of detailed pictures that give the young reader a lot to look at beyond just counting how many butterflies or ducklings are on the page. I\’m not terribly fond of books that capitalize on popular films or tv characters, but this one has a nice quality that readily overcomes my reluctance to appreciate it.

Rating: 4/5 …….. 16  pages, 2007

by Eric Carle

You must know that Eric Carle is something of a classic illustrator when it comes to picture books. At least, I think so. He\’s the one who did The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Well, this board book has the same lively, bright cut-paper collage illustrations. Each one simply shows an animal. The textures and patterns in the paper pieces that make up each picture are wonderful, but what makes this book really fun is that it has a double set of pages, top and bottom, so you can leave an animal page in place on the top and turn through all the words that describe actions on the bottom, until you find the one that matches. It\’s quite fun, especially as some can be ambiguous- does the caterpillar match with climb or crawl? which animal goes with strut? And you\’ll never guess which one performs the action flip– a creature I hadn\’t encountered in a kid\’s book before!

rating: 4/5 …….. pages, 1986

by Kevin Henkes

This cute little book shows four creatures, each with a simple problem: a bird has lost its feather, a puppy got his leash tangled up, the baby fox is missing his mother and little squirrel has dropped his nut. Each animal looks sad at his predicament but then a bad day turns around as they each find a solution or overcome their disappointment. At the very end there\’s a nice closing touch where a little girl finds the feather the bird had lost and runs with it to her mom in delight: what so dismayed the bird turned out to be a highlight of her day!

 Rating: 3/5 …….. 32 pages, 2007

more opinions:
Kate\’s Bookery
What Adrienne Thinks About That
The Brimbank Book Shelf

by Kristin Sorra

Cute little board book shows a redhead toddler enjoying a visit to the beach with her family. Each page simply has the words of her greeting a new activity or person: the lifeguard, the waves of the ocean, a seagull, a sandcastle. Hello, umbrella. Hello, towel. Hello, shells etc etc. Can be quite repetitive. But kids like that. One of my toddler\’s favorite words (at least it gets a lot of use) right now is simply \”HI!\” (she practically yells it at everyone we meet on walks) so she quite enjoys this book.

rating: 3/5 …….. 22 pages, 2009

by Laurie Lisle

I don\’t know why this book didn\’t sit well with me, but I just couldn\’t focus on it. And normally I like reading memoirs about gardening. Hers includes a lot about the history of her new town, and quotes from other writers (most famous names) about gardening. If I had been in the right frame of mind I could have enjoyed learning how a little town changed its face over the generations, and compiled another large list of books related to gardening and plants to read. The book is peppered with their titles. As it was I often found my attention wandering, or bored. Perhaps it\’s because my own focus has shifted; the challenges of creating a nice garden design in her oddly shaped narrow yard failed to capture my interest.  I suppose I relate more to the growing of houseplants now; I did find myself curiously attentive to the pages about her indoor plants, particularly a large jade which she tried unsuccessfully to coax into flowering. I actually thumbed eagerly through the pages to see if she ever managed that; having read on another blog last year about someone who did I wanted to say aloud to her: it\’s not just the dryness, it\’s temperature, too! Let it go dry and cold, and see if that works! But of course the author can\’t hear me talking aloud to her book.

So I really only skimmed the second half of this book, but perhaps you would like it better.

Abandoned …….. 219 pages, 2005

by Bonnie Maslin

I find it difficult to write about self-help books without feeling like I\’m exposing something of my flaws and failures. I also find it hard to know which books in this area are more credible than others. What makes one author\’s advice more solid than another\’s? And I often wonder if I am just liking a self-help book because its views already agree with my own; but what if my views are wrong? maybe a book that I didn\’t agree with but that taught me to do different would be more useful…

Anyway, I found this book helpful enough that right after finishing I wanted to turn to the front page and read it all over again, but I\’ve already renewed it twice from the library. So I bought myself a copy. That in itself says a lot. I feel like the real test of the book\’s veracity will be how well its suggestions work when put into practice. I am trying, but still fall far short of where I should be as a parent. Here\’s some of the things that really stuck with me from Picking Your Battles.

The book describes methods of implementing discipline, being firm and sticking to the rules and standards you have made for your family, without caving into arguments. It helps you discern between what kinds of infractions are merely irritating to you and better ignored, which are impolite misconduct that should be corrected, and which are serious infractions that need to be acted on immediately. It tells you how to teach your child to be responsible, to recognize consequences, to understand the impact of their actions on others. Shows you strategies for managing anger, whether it be at your children, or anger they feel towards you. Points out that anger can be useful, as long as it is not expressed with aggression. Helps you recognize your own discipline strategy and realize if it is effective or not. And so on. Grounded in an understanding of child psychology, the author also tells you how to recognize when your kid is acting the way he does because of a developmental stage, not just because they\’re trying to be difficult or get under your skin. This is another thing I often need to remember. There\’s a lot more that I\’m not even touching on here, but I don\’t really know how to describe it properly.

Well, I\’m trying to implement some of the ideas from the book: to listen more, guide and direct more than demand and punish, give positive reinforcement instead of negative reprimands, and stem my irritation (I tend to nag a lot). But I think I\’m going to read this book over again many times before I am done.

rating: 4/5 ……… 352 pages, 2004

more opinions:
Jesse\’s Girl

by John Schindel

Guess what, I\’m still reading the parenting book. And have a handful of gardening books I foolishly checked out from the library but have found no time to read. Life is busy now, hours always occupied. But I do happen to read lots of kid\’s books. So they\’re going to be the main feature here for a while! I have some catching up to do . . .

Busy Gorillas is in the same little series as Busy Kitties, one of my daughter\’s favorites that must be popular with other kids as well because I have never been able to find it again at the library. The board book shows gorillas doing various things: climbing, swinging, gnawing on plants, slapping their chest, pushing each other, napping, dashing about (blurry photo here- nice effect!) cuddling an infant, and my favorite, a big frowning face. That picture is just great! Each photo is paired with simply rhyming text. Sturdy little book illustrating to small readers activities that gorillas do- many of which are just like things we do ourselves.

rating: 3/5 ……. 20 pages, 2010

more opinions:
The Brainpan
the Well-Read Child


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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