Thursday, July 2, 2009

Book Review #798
I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff, illustrated by David Catrow
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This was a super cute book!  That is, if you like reptiles.  I especially loved the way the story was told; through post-it notes between the mother and son.  There was a subtle trace of humor throughout the entire book.  The illustrations were funny as well.  I liked David Catrow's portrayal of the iguana.  All in all, this book made me smile and I would definitely recommend.

Book Review #797
How The Cat Swallowed Thunder by Lloyd Alexander, illustrated by Judy Schachner
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I really felt sorry for this poor cat as he tried to clean the house.  He was lazy, but once he set to work he managed to get the job done.  The ending was a bit random, but it wasn't totally dissatisfying.  The illustrations were colorful and energetic.  I might recommend.

Book Review #796
Little Blue And Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
Rating: one star (out of four)

This book just didn't do much for me.  I thought it would have more substance to it.  But after I finished reading I went, "huh" and set it aside.  The illustrations were simple and a little bland.  I wouldn't recommend this book.

Book Review #795
Hide-And-Seek All Week by Tomie dePaola
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The storyline for this book was pretty entertaining, but a little predictable.  I kind of felt sorry because the kids could never decide on anything and always used up all their recess time.  Still, Tomie worked in a simple message that even kids could understand.  I might recommend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Book Review #794
The Friendly Beasts: An Old English Christmas Carol, illustrations by Tomie dePaola
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The illustrations for this book were fantastic.  The characters had this certain sweetness about them that perfectly matched the Christmas carol.  I had never heard of this song before and was glad that it was featured in this book.  I would probably recommend.

Book Review #793
That's Good! That's Bad! In The Grand Canyon by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by David Catrow
Rating: one star (out of four)

This book was simply o-kay.  I didn't feel like the story plot was impressive and thought most of it was simply too-far-fetched to be amusing.  Some of the illustrations were a little too-out-there for me and I didn't enjoy looking at them as much as I should have.  I wouldn't recommend.

Book Review #792
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The illustrations for this book were very colorful and innovative.  I liked how they interacted with the story.  The message was fairly obvious, but I thought it was still a nice story and kids wouldn't feel that it was too 'preachy'.  I would probably recommend.

Book Review #791
Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was a fairly cute book.  I liked the illustrations, they were sweet and energetic.  The moral of the story was good and the ending made me smile.  My favorite parts were all the methods Freckleface Strawberry used to 'get rid' of her freckles.  I would probably recommend.

Book Review #790
Watch Me Throw The Ball by Mo Willems
Rating: four stars (out of four)

If there is anyone who can make me laugh, it is Mo Willems.  Everytime I pick up one of his books I end up chuckling.  This book was no exception.  I liked watching the interaction between Elephant and Piggie and seeing their crazy  antics.  I especially loved the illustrations, they were superb .  I would totally recommend this book!

Book Review #789
The Loose End Of The Rainbow by D. B. Pacini
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

I was excited to see that I had won this book in a Firstreads giveaway.  I was even more thrilled to see that it was a young-adult book. YA is my favorite genre. While I admit that the story's premise was an interesting concept, the storyline was not well developed. I also had a hard time getting into the book because it was fragmented and confusing. 

This novel was supposed to be fantasy, but when you take characteristics from today and mix them with people from 500+ years ago, you lose some of your credibility.  The characters were unimaginative and stereotypical.  If they had Japanese elements, then all of them were Japanese: from their name, to their clothing, to the way they gathered food, and lived.  You either need to have your own culture for your fantasy world or you need to borrow and extrapolate to make it your own.  You can't take random things out of history and expect them to flow smoothly in your fantasy novel.  

I enjoy footnotes with useful and helpful information. I did like how some of the footnotes gave descriptions about the food and plants.  But at times, the informative footnotes disrupted the flow without adding relevancy to the story. I couldn't figure out if the novel was a fantasy disguised as an educational book, or an educational book trying to be a fantasy novel. Distracting footnotes were inserted with random bits of information that had no relevance to the story. Although it is commendable to have historical and educational footnotes along with a story and one of the footnotes in this book featured Martin Luther King Jr., I was confused about why he was even referenced in this fantasy novel set hundreds of years before his time.  To introduce this man in a footnote and never refer to him again was very odd. He had nothing to do with the storyline and inserting his information was jarring.  In another instance, the author added a complete footnote explaining that the descriptive phrase mentioned, “wet spot in a haystack,” was a phrase used by one of her relatives.  This would be great to interject as interesting trivia in a conversation, but would only be relevant as a footnote if the book were an autobiography.   There were several footnotes of this type in the book. There were at least two instances where Wikipedia was given to find more information. Wikipedia is not a legitimate reference and should never be used be as a reputable source. 

There were sentences throughout the book that made little or no sense.  It was almost like someone had cut one long sentence in half and inserted a period in the middle with the second sentence starting where the last one left off.  There were also random bits of dialogue that were out of place or jarring because they didn’t flow well.  I would find myself having to decipher what point the author was trying to get across due to the way she wrote things down.  There were many instances in the story where the conversations were stilted and incomprehensible.  

I was genuinely confused about the ending.  I didn’t see why things worked out the way they did, and I wondered why they had gone to all the trouble in the first place.  I felt there were major plot holes in the story.  I had a hard time getting through the entire book because of the abrupt writing style.  I was often puzzled when a paragraph in the story ended abruptly and then the next paragraph started a completely different topic with no transition.   This happened too many times and it was a struggle to finish the book. 

In my reviews I try to be fair, but truthful.  I know that someone worked extremely hard to bring about this story, and this story is a part of them.   Although the author put a lot of thought and effort into creating the different people, this book had major flaws in flow and plot.  I would not recommend this book.

Book Review #788
When I Was Little by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by
Rating: two stars (out of four)

Told from the perspective of a four-year-old looking back on her life, this book gets pretty humorous.  I liked the concept and thought some of the memories were sweet.  The illustrations were fairly busy - their color and pizzazz were all over the place.  I would probably recommend this book.