Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Book Reviews #258
The Unspoken Rules Of Love by Michelle Mckinney Hammond and Joel A. Brooks Jr.
Rating: one star (out of four)

I only got through 30 pages of this book and then decided that I didn't need to read any more.

Book Review #257
Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel
Rating: three stars (out of four)

Even though I only found three patterns that I wanted to knit, I really liked the overall feel of this book.  The pages and the way that the knitted items were formatted was very appealing.  I loved the lace designs that were incorporated through the pattern instructions, just giving it a professional and also feminine feel.  The patterns, for the most part, were pretty ingenious, I liked how they used different stitch patterns in their sweaters, putting a block of funky or stylish stitch pattern that made the stockinette look more regal and refined.  Even if you don't find anything that you would like to knit in this book, you'd still get a lot just by leafing through the pages and looking at the gorgeous designs.

Book Review #256
The Story Of Mankind by Hendrik Willem  Van Loon
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

I struggled through 408 pages of this book and have actually been reading it for the past several weeks, only it has felt like months.  I really wanted to finish this book because it was the First Newbery Medal, but I had to force myself to sit down and read it and my family was starting to wonder why I was putting myself through such misery.  

From almost the first page of this book I was getting annoyed, the facts were boring and put in such a patronizing way that I was immediately irked.  The story of Moses was horrific.  It felt like the author had taken the whole story and chopped it up into little pieces and then only used a couple of the bigger pieces for this book, making it a different and inaccurate story that didn't even make sense because of the left-out parts.  I was very disgusted with his rendition.  

I couldn't stand the tone that the author used throughout the story, he was constantly telling the reader that he was getting ahead of himself and that you would hear about those people in the "next couple of pages" that you just had to be patient.  Um, excuse me, but you are the one that is getting ahead of yourself, I am not sitting here reading the book going, "why on earth isn't he telling me about the romans?" No, I am just reading what is on the page and having the author tell me that he's going to get to that story, "a bit later" just makes me angry when I read it every chapter.  

I was not pleased with this book in the least and I know that I would never recommend it. Mostly though, I was so disappointed that this is the first Newbery Medal.  It was definitely a let down from all the wonderful Newbery books I've read.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Book Review #255
Ashanti To Zulu by Margaret Musgrove, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The illustrations for this book were pretty cool, I liked the stylized art and how the colors weren't very bright but conveyed brightness.  The snipits of information were pretty cool, but I wasn't vastly interested or wanting to find out more.  A pretty good book, I'd recommend if you wanted to find out more about African traditions.

Book Review #254
Castle by David Macaulay
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book was pretty cool, I liked seeing how the castle was built and I thought that the pictures were drawn very elaborately, with details that made it seem more realistic.  An interesting book, you should check it out if you are into medieval history.

Book Review #253
Noah's Ark by Peter Spier
Rating: one star (out of four)

While I thought the illustrations for this book were quite nice in detail and color, I didn't really care for the content as much.  This book wasn't very historically or biblically accurate.  I am pretty sure that Noah did not have glass jars to keep all the bugs in, nor metal cages for the tigers...and one page in particular is especially depressing for me, it's near the beginning.  All the animals are boarding the ark two by two and after that there are still all these other animals waiting outside, just standing there because they didn't get to board the ark because they already had two of that kind.  It starts to rain and then in the next picture half of the animals are gone and the other half (the tall ones) are mid-body length deep in water.  And then the next picture?  The animals are gone!  The water is all around the ark and there are no animals.  What do you say to a child that's been reading this?
Child: "What happened to the other animals?  They were just there a page ago?"
You: "um, well, they went for a swim...a rather short swim...because they kind of...uh, drowned..."
No, I'm pretty sure you can't say that.  
I didn't care for this book and I wouldn't recommend it.

Book Review #252
Goggles by Ezra Jack Keats
Rating: one star (out of four)

The illustrations for this book were fairly neat, but I really didn't care for the story all that much, I thought it was a little disjointed and didn't really flow very well.

Book Review #251
Arrow To The Sun by Gerald McDermott
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The illustrations for this book were vivid and beautifully matching in color, I especially liked the different shades of orange.  The story was an interesting enough one, but I didn't care for the trials, I didn't feel as if they were worth very much.  The pictures in this book were nice, but I don't think it quite makes up for the story, so I wouldn't recommend.

Book Review #250
Alexander And The Wind-up Mouse by Leo Lionni
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This is a cute little tale that I thought was actually pretty sweet.  I really enjoyed looking at the illustrations, they way the author used different textures to create a totally different look.  This is a nice book.

Book Review #249
Duffy And The Devil by Harve and Margot Zemach
Rating: one star (out of four)

I did not care for the illustrations in this book at all.  They were messy looking and I found it a little hard on the eyes.  The story was an interesting one, but I didn't really care for the way it played out, although I was more satisfied with the ending then I thought I would be.  You can definitely skip this book though.

Book Review #248
Frog And Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This is a fairly cute little book featuring the exploits of two friends, Frog and Toad.  I thought the relationship between Frog and Toad was sweet, but as far as the stories, I wasn't overly impressed.  

Book Review #247
The Rooster Crows: A Book Of American Rhymes And Jingles by Maud and Miska Petersham
Rating: one star (out of four)

This book was very interesting to me, you could see how much things have changed since this book was written.  While I thought that it was a nice idea to compile these rhymes I was a little disturbed by some of the ones I read in here.  I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't want a child reading them now, because they were a either disturbing or just made completely no sense at all.  I don't have much sympathy for short little ditties that rhyme for the sake of rhyming and that is pretty much it.  I don't like reading nonsense.  Don't bother reading this book, the reason you've never heard of some of these obscure jingles is because they just don't work and are not suited for children.

Book Review #246
Cathedral by David Macaulay
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The details in these drawings were very impressive, I thought it was cool to look at.  The story wasn't as interesting, and I'm not sure if a child would be able to sit through this book, but as a young adult I thought it was intriguing.  A well thought-out book, I'd recommend.

Book Review #245
Kids At Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor by Russell Freedman, photographs by Lewis Hine
Rating: four stars (out of four)

The photographs in this book were absolutely amazing.  The startling clarity and richness of the faces were amazing.  I couldn't believe that these photographs were taken almost a hundred years ago.  A part of history that is not very well known, I liked how the author incorporated the photographs and Lewis Hine's life, giving me a brief look into the past.  I immensely enjoyed this book, it was educational, had beautiful photographs and I learned more about something that I didn't know much about.  I'd definitely recommend this book.

Book Review #244
Journey Cake, Ho! by Ruth Sawyer, illustrated by Robert McCloskey
Rating: one star (out of four)

There are some major ethical issues with this story.  When the journey cake is off running down and up the mountain and all those animals decide to follow it, where do you think those other animals came from?  They weren't wild animals, no they were not!  I didn't like this story, the illustrations weren't something I enjoyed and the story was a little wonky.

Book Review #243
Play With Me by Marie Hall Ets
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book had an almost sad beginning, I felt sorry for the little girl who just wanted someone to play with but all the animals were running away.  Don't worry though, the book had a very happy ending, one that was sweet and made you smile.  The illustrations were a little lacking, but I'd probably still recommend this book.

Book Review #242
Once A Mouse by Marcia Brown
Rating: one star (out of four)

The illustrations for this book were pretty cool, I really liked the stylized pictures.  As far as the story is concerned though, I did not care for it.  The story basically went around in a big loop and ended right where it started, with nothing accomplished.  I was not impressed at all, you can definitely skip this book.

Book Review #241
Little Bear's Visit by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I enjoyed reading this book, I liked the interaction between little bear and grandfather and grandmother bear, it made me smile, because they did all the sorts of things that grandparents do.  The pictures for this book were really quite sweet, even if it does strike you a little odd that the bears are dressed up in old-fashioned clothes and wearing spectacles.  I'd recommend this book.

Book Review #240
One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian
Rating: one star (out of four)

I didn't really care for this book, the illustrations weren't very impressive and I found myself annoyed with all the repetitively every other page.  Not a book worth reading.

Book Review #239
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The illustrations for this book perfectly suited the story, they were simplistic and yet had a definite feel, I really liked them.  The story is a sweet one of a little child's adventures in the snow, I found it entertaining.

Book Review #238
Undressed by Jason Illian
Rating: three stars (out of four)

There is definitely some sound advice in this book.  And I thought that Jason Illian did a pretty good job of giving you truth without sounding boring, defensive or preachy.  There were a couples aspects of this book that I didn't quite agree with, but overall I found it uplifting and filled with solid sentiments of wisdom.  I would probably recommend this book.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Book Review #237
Don't Date Naked by Michael and Amy Smalley
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book offered advice and solid truths to help you avoid dating pitfalls and while that was nice and all, I didn't agree with some of their principles.  I don't know if it is possible to date non-seriously, because then what would be the point?  If you are dating just to have a good time and don't think that the relationship will go anywhere why bother doing it at all?  What about the other person's feelings?  I also didn't like how often they referenced Joshua Harris.  If they wanted to write a dating book, go ahead and do it, don't litter your text with, "we agree with pretty much everything he said, but we would do it this way..." I thought that this book had some good points, but I didn't always see eye-to-eye with the authors.  I wouldn't recommend this book because I've read other books that I agree with more and hold in higher esteem.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Book Review #236
1984 by George Orwell
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

I really liked this book...for about the first 30 pages, and then my liking took a sharp turn, in fact, a u-turn.  I was reading it and wondering where it was going and it did not go in any direction I would have liked.  I think for the most part, what was so unsettling about this book was that it was so different then what I had thought it would be like.  So vastly different.  And that really disappointed me.  Plus it's a classic, and you know, you're supposed to like it because it has stood the "test of time," but I just did not like this book.  

The middle really bothered me, I felt like the characters were going nowhere and I couldn't stand having them sitting around thinking their thoughts without anything really happening to them.  The last 100 pages were filled with violence and only made me angry that a novel with such an interesting premise could turn so sour.  

This is definitely an Adult book, it had some themes that I did not care for in the least, being sexual and violent.  I didn't care for Winston Smith, I found him a boring and bland main character who thought too much and when I was reading his thoughts I only got confused because he couldn't seem to think straight.  Julia I did not like at all, I thought that her relationship with Winston was totally stupid and came out of nowhere.  The way that they came in contact was not even believable and I was annoyed at the author for making it so unrealistic. 

When I finally got to the end I was disappointed and annoyed, maybe even angry.  I do not like books that end with something completely different from where you started in the beginning of the novel.  I was slightly confused and irked that the author didn't have the grace to write a better ending.  I felt like I had just wasted all my time reading this book that I had heard so much praise for only to be left in the ditch.  I was not happy.  

I think that my main disappointment though, is that it did not live up to my expectations.  I had expected something along the line of a Utopia society that was more advanced then my YA fantasy novels, something that would give me chills down my spine just thinking about all the ideas they represented in this novel.  And when I read this, I didn't get any chills, I found myself getting more and more disappointed with each page I read.  

I know that the author was trying to get a point across but it seemed like he really lost it somewhere near the first 40 pages and took you for a ride that only ended in disaster.  I would not recommend this book, it was violent, dismal, and ended exactly in a way that made you wish you had spent your time doing something more worthwhile.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Book Review #235
Baboushka And The Three Kings by Ruth Robbins, illustrated by Nicolas Sidjakov
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

I did not care for this book at all.  The illustrations looked cheap and unprofessional.  The end of the book was depressing, I felt sad because Baboushka didn't find what she was looking for and I also thought it was kind of creepy how she ended up.

Book Review #234
Rain Drop Splash by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard
Rating: one star (out of four)

I didn't really see the point of this book, the first couple of pages were interesting, but after that I quickly became bored.  The illustrations were nice, but they didn't redeem the book.

Book Review #233
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Rating: two stars (out of four)

While I didn't care for the story as much, I did enjoy looking at the illustrations. I thought that it had a nice, clever ending.  I'd recommend it.

Book Review #232
A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I liked the format for this book, the way the illustrations were crawling up the page and all around, but I didn't care for the story itself.  A decent book,  but not one I'm going to read again.

Book Review #231
Inch By Inch by Leo Lionni
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I really liked the illustrations for this book, the bright colors of the birds and the subtle colors of the long grass strands were very cool.  I also thought that the little inch worm was very clever.  A book I'd recommend.

Book Review #230
Umbrella by Taro Yashima
Rating: one star (out of four)

I didn't care for this book, the story wasn't all that impressive and I found some of the illustrations a little creepy, I don't know if it was because the eyes weren't filled in or just because they gave me a vague sense of uneasiness.  I just didn't like some of the pictures at all.  Not a book I'd recommend.

Book Review #229
If I Ran The Zoo by Dr. Seuss
Rating: three stars (out of four)

A delightfully whimsical book
If I were you I'd have a look
The rhymes made my mouth quiver with glee
I really think you should check it out and see
The creatures were so interesting and fun
I read this book and smiled a ton.

Book Review #228
Fly High, Fly Low by Don Freeman
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I liked the illustrations for this book, they were simple and yet very descriptive.  The story for this book was a little suspenseful, with the pigeon's home being moved and one of the pigeon's getting left behind, but don't worry, it had a happy ending.  A nice book.

Book Review #227
The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
Rating: one star (out of four)

I think what I couldn't get past with this book was the unrealistic aspects.  This book is definitely outdated, you would never get away with this kind of stuff nowadays.  The illustrations were okay, but I couldn't get over the unrealistic factors.

Book Review #226
May I Bring A Friend? by Beatrice Schenk De Regniers, illustrated by Beni Montresor
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This story is mostly ridiculous, the King and Queen are borderline insane to keep inviting this little boy to come over and bring his friends.  I also thought that it was a little forward of the boy to ask if he could bring a friend, would you make that request to the King and Queen?  But the rhymes of this book were very enjoyable and clever.  I liked the facial expressions of the people and animals as well.  All in all, an entertaining read.

Book Review #225
Drummer Hoff by Barbara Emberley, illustrated by Ed Emberley
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The illustrations in this book were so interesting to look at, they reminded me of elaborate stain glass designs, and my favorite was the last page, the greens and yellows looked so nice with the black out-lines.  The story was okay, with the rhyming making it a fun read for kids, but I'm not sure I'd pick it up again.

Book Review #224
Sam, Bangs and Moonshine by Evaline Ness
Rating: one star (out of four)

This book had a good moral but I felt like it was a little dark for a children's book, the illustrations were pretty good, but I wasn't in love with them or anything.  This book was definitely not my favorite, but it still had a happy ending, and that was nice.

Book Review #223
Bartholomew And The Oobleck by Dr. Seuss
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I thought that this story was quite amusing.  With a slightly unpredictable outcome you are left wondering if maybe the kingdom will perish underneath a great big pile of oobleck.  I liked this book, you should check it out.

Book Review #222
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Rating: one star (out of four)

I grew up with a different version of this story and I must say that I liked my version better.  This story seemed unrealistic, I didn’t like how the villagers acted and how quick they were swayed from their opinions.  The illustrations were okay, but this isn’t a book that I’m recommending anytime soon.

Book Review #221
White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I liked the way that this book was written, with a poetic short of lilt.  But what I found slightly annoying was that some of the pages were hard to read because the font of the words was black and the pages were dark gray.  Other then that I thought this was a fairly enjoyable read.

Book Review #220
Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was a fairly cute little story, I liked the contrast between the two mothers and how it was almost the exact same text, making it a more enjoyable read.  The illustrations were nice, but still, not a book that I'd buy.

Book Review #219
The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
Rating: one star (out of four)

The idea for this story was a nice one, but I didn't feel like it was interesting enough to entertain as a story.  The pictures were lovely, but I just couldn't get into this book, and I felt that it was even a little boring.

Book Review #218
Prayer For A Child by Rachel Field, illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This is a sweet little book, I liked most of the illustrations and thought that it was a neat idea to have the whole prayer on the first page and then break it down in the following pages.  

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Book Review #217
Frog Went A-courtin' by John Langstaff
Rating: one star (out of four)

I was not impressed with this story, it went on and on and then abruptly ended, leaving you wondering what was really the point.  The illustrations weren't my taste either, all in all, you can definitely skip this book.

Book Review #216
Finders Keepers by William Lipkind
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

I know that zero stars is a little harsh, but when I put this book along side some of the books that I had given one star, it just wasn't up to par.  I did not enjoy this book, it was annoying how the dogs weren't smart enough to see that they were being duped and then at the end they finally band together and beat up another dog, not my idea of a good children's book.  I don't recommend this book at all, the worst Caldecott Medal I have read thus far.

Book Review #215
Cinderella translated and illustrated by Marcia Brown
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I liked this story of Cinderella, definitely a lot better then the Disney one.  The illustrations were nice, but even so this is a book that I only need to read once.

Book Review #214
Scrambled Eggs Super by Dr. Seuss
Rating: four stars (out of four)

This books whimsical tale about what it takes to make a Super-dee-Dooper-dee-Booper Special de luxe a-la-Peter T. Hooper!  You journey to foreign lands to find the best eggs and avoid the birds that are cranky and have eggs that taste like the inside of a fiddle.  A delightful rhyming book that you can't help but smile when you read.

Book Review #213
1 Is One by Tasha Tudor
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This is a sweet little book, I liked how it rhymed, it gave it a cheery little cadence and the pictures were nice.  This book had an old-fashioned feel to it.  I'd recommend it.

Book Review #212
The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous
Rating: one star (out of four)

I didn't care for this story, it seemed a little disjointed, especially when they would stop mid-sentence, making you have to turn the page to read the rest, and finding 2 pages of illustrations, you want to finish the sentence, but you also want to study the artwork.  Poor layout and not enough of a interesting story plot make this book one you can easily skip.

Book Review #211
Chanticleer And The Fox by Barbara Cooney
Rating: one star (out of four)

The moral of the story was good, but I didn't care for how it was reached, or the long introduction to the characters and other random people who weren't really included in the rest of the story.  The pictures were pretty nice, but still not a book I'm planning on reading again.

Book Review #210
Crow Boy by Taro Yashima 
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I liked the theme of this book, that sometimes we judge people before getting to know them, labeling them a certain way because we don't understand them.  I wasn't too impressed with the story itself and felt that there were a couple parts that seemed a tad bit on the unrealistic side.  It had a happy ending though, and had a positive message.

Book Review #209
The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
Rating: three stars (out of four)

What I loved most about this book was the author's imagery.  She could paint a picture with words, and have it still be understandable to children.  The way she described the scenery around the farm and the way the rain pummeled down from the sky was lovely.  I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it.