Month: March 2013

by Octavia Butler

This is some very interesting science fiction. I admit I was first drawn to Octavia Butler\’s works because I loved the cover images; John Jude Palencar is one of my favorite illustrators. Dawn is a futuristic novel in which the human race has been nearly destroyed and rescued by aliens. The aliens saved them from catastrophe and are ready to return them to a restored Earth, but is the cost worth it? The aliens engage in a form of genetic \”trading\” with other species as a way to advance themselves. So they are saving humankind by transforming them into something else. The protagonist wakes after centuries of forced sleep and finds herself assigned a leader of the humans preparing to return to Earth. There\’s all sorts of conflicts going on, not the least of which is most of the characters\’ discontent with what the aliens have done to them. I found the story really intriguing but the characters rather unlikable. Maybe their unpleasant nature was part of the genetic change they had undergone, I\’m not sure. Regardless, it is a book I\’d like to read again someday.

Rating: 3/5 ……. 256 pages, 1987

more opinions:
Adventures in Reading
Twisted SciFi
Diverse Pages
Zubon Book Reviews

by Michelle Sinclair Colman

When we first borrowed this book from the library, the way the illustrations are stylized put me off a bit. I think my kid didn\’t even recognize the figures as people, at first. But the book has really grown on us, and now I\’m very fond of it. It simply makes repeated statements of how to be environmentally-friendly and shows a baby or child participating in some way- often amusingly. The page that says Eco babies save water shows a kid sitting in the rain, catching water in all kinds of cups, mugs, bowls, pots and toys. Even his open mouth to the sky. Eco babies compost shows a toddler in a highchair tossing cheerios on the floor, with a container labeled compost nearby and pattern of plants climbing the wallpaper. Eco babies recycle has a kid in a cardboard box with a hat and sail made of newspaper, looking adventuresome. I think my favorite page is the one that says Eco babies eat local, showing a baby stuffing his face with strawberries, while mom picks a basketful. Brought back fond memories of visiting local strawberry farms and picking our own when I was a kid. And of course the last page as a fitting close shows a baby in pajamas reaching out of her mom\’s arms towards a lamp in the falling dusk: Eco babies turn off the lights. I love all the little reminders on how children can be involved in being \”green\”.

Rating: 4/5 …….. 18 pages, 2008

by Marison Billet

Attracted by its bright colors and cute characters, my toddler picked out these two books about a little panda bear from the library. One shows the bear doing activities at home, the other has him at the beach. It\’s those touch-and-feel kind of books. The first one, Noodle Loves to Cuddle, shows the bear pulling a fuzzy duck toy, playing with a ball that has plastic texture with raised bumps, talking on a toy phone and playing with his blankie, which covers his face. This is my daughter\’s favorite page, although she used to be concerned that the panda was upside-down.

Noodle Loves the Beach has one of the most unique touch-and-feel features I\’ve ever seen. It has a rough patch for sand, sparkly blue material for water, the cloth sail of a boat (which you can lift to find a cute bunny) And one page has the bear eating a sticky peach, and the peach sufrace is actually sticky. Like the backside of an old sticker might be. It\’s a very realistic peach color, too. A little gross, as by this time the sticky surface had caught lots of little specks of things (and being a library book that could be more disturbing but I don\’t think about it too much). My toddler finds this page most intriguing and will spend a good several minutes poking the peach surface with her finger.

Both books end with a mirror on the last page where your child can see her face (if a bit unclearly). My kid really likes these books, will even ask for them by name (\”Bear! Bear!\”). They don\’t have many pages but the illustrations are cute, fun for kids, and the pages are very sturdy. It\’s one where I don\’t have to worry about the flap getting torn off, as the lift-able parts are cloth and securely sandwiched between the board layers of the page, instead of being heavy stock paper glued atop it as you often see.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 10 pages, 2011

by Mira Stout

This novel explores the roots of one woman\’s Korean family. The first part of the book describes her life in New York as daughter of a Korean immigrant and an American father. Then it goes on to tell her mother\’s and grandmother\’s stories, respectively, delving into Korean history and culture. Finally the daughter travels to Korea for the first time, to connect with her roots and see the places her family have described to her. The sad thing is that even though I recall finding the book interested when I read it, I can now recall very little about it. The characters were pretty forgettable and the writing quality rather uneven. I think if you\’re interested in Korean history or the meeting of two cultures, you would still find it a good read, though.

Rating: 2/5 ……. 368 pages, 1998

More opinions:
The Book Coop
In Consideration of Books
Book Around the World

by Say and Play

We\’ve had this book borrowed from the public library for months, that\’s how much my kid likes it. (My library doesn\’t have a time limit on baby books). It just has pictures showing objects that provide various modes of transportation, or some that are pieces of machinery, and names them. Simple, but intriguing because of the variety. There\’s the familiar cars, trucks, motorcycle, fire engine, bulldozer, train, helicopter, boat, airplane etc. But there\’s also a blimp, scooter, bicycle, cable car, hot air balloon, roller skates and child\’s tricycle. There\’s a double-decker bus and a yellow school bus. There\’s not only a regular pickup truck but a cement-mixer, a semi tractor-trailer, a tow truck, a dump truck and a garbage truck. You get the idea. Lots of things that go. Nice, clear pictures. To amuse my kid I started making distinctive noises for each item, and pretty soon she expected the same ones every time. This included different kinds of honks and beeps for each car and truck, put-put-put for the helicopter, vrooms and roars and so forth. I make a pretty good high-pitched backup-warning beep (for the garbage truck). I never did think of a good sound for the blimp but that one is near the end of the book and she never seemed to notice that I skipped its noise.

Rating: 4/5 …….. 26 pages, 2012

by Usborne

This book is cute and amusing to my toddler. Title might be a little misleading as it has no storyline and doesn\’t really focus on the baby in the family. Each spread just shows a scene with a mom and three kids (one an infant) engaged in daily activities. One side of the spread shows a number of objects having to do with the activity, and on the opposite page you can find them in the picture. Scenes show having a meal, going for a walk, visiting a friend, taking a bath, and bedtime. The final spread shows all the objects together and names them all. The pictures are done with clay modeling and looked cartoony but also have some very realistic components. For example, the baby diapers and clothing look like actual objects were put on the modeled figures. Makes it interesting to look at. My toddler likes finding all the various items in the pictures and I make up a little narrative describing what they\’re doing, but there\’s not much else to this book. And it\’s not very well made, physically. The top layer of paper that has the picture printed on it is peeling off the cardboard base on several pages.

I think I read another book by this same author/illustrator before, which featured a farm, the clay modeling style looked very familiar. But the farm one we just enjoyed at the library and did not bring home.

Rating: 2/5 …….. 12 pages, 2008

by Tanith Lee

I have pretty much nothing to say about this book except that it was the one that made me firmly give up on Tanith Lee. As an author I want to read more of, that is. Sorry! But it\’s true. The characters felt even more flat than before, and the protagonist was put in a new situation at the very beginning of the book that was so incredibly unfamiliar she could not make sense of it, and neither could this reader. Basically Claidi gets kidnapped and taken to a mysterious palace high on a cliff where she finds herself surrounded by clockwork servants and rooms that change on a whim, which she tries desperately to escape from. It was so utterly confusing. I tend to get rather irritated when I read pages and pages and simply cannot follow or figure out what is going on, so I gave up on this one. Too bad. I still think the author\’s imagination is fantastic, her ideas are certainly most unique, I just can\’t manage to enjoy them the way they are presented.

Abandoned ……… 256 pages, 2000

More opinions:
Jefferson Road
A Jedi\’s Musings

by Patricia Polacco

I instantly recognized the illustrator this time, when my toddler found this book on the library shelf. So I brought it home mostly for my own interest, as she hasn\’t been able to sit through the whole thing. We get to about letter H with her before she wants a different book. I assumed from the cover that the alphabet would be illustrated with different animals, or things on the farm, but instead the book is all about goats! It\’s awfully adorable. Uses the alphabet letters to illustrate everything from what names goats have (billy, nanny, kid etc) to what they like to eat, how they behave, their usefulness, their physical characteristics and so forth. I was wondering what Z would be for and the last few pages let me know: V is for vet, we think something\’s wrong– image showing a concerned girl hugging her very pregnant goat- W is for wait, X is for exciting– and at the very end, Z is for the names of three new baby goats just-born. If you know someone who loves or has goats, I think this book would be great, even if it is a toddler\’s alphabetical!

Rating: 4/5 …….. 32 pages, 2003

by Joan Dunning

This is a beautiful book. I stumbled across it browsing library shelves once, and now it\’s one I dream to own someday. The exquisite illustrations drew me in, but the writing is just as fantastic. It\’s all about the different types of nests birds build: how they do it, where they make them, how they raise and defend their young. You learn a lot more about birds and their habits than just their nests in the course of the book, but it all revolves around their homes. I found it fascinating and delightful. A wonderful book that any nature-lover would treasure.

Rating: 5/5 …….. 198 pages, 1994

by Richard and Michele Steckel

Nothing could be simpler than this board book. Each pages shows a baby or toddler smiling (well, a few of them seem to be crying) so you can see their teeth. The first one has bare gums, the next one shows one tooth, then two, and so on. Each kid has progressively more teeth up to ten. The pages just show the number to count, plus a tiny bit of text on the picture telling you what country the kids are from. You can guess from the small bits of clothing to be seen, but other than that this information doesn\’t add much to the book for my kid. She isn\’t even interested in counting the teeth at all, just likes looking at all the children\’s faces. The last two pages show a child biting into corn on the cob, and then brushing. A good ending for a book featuring teeth!

Rating: 3/5 …….. 20 pages, 2007


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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