Tuesday, May 6, 2014

There's a Mouse Hiding In This Book! by Benjamin Bird

There's a Mouse Hiding In This Book! by Benjamin Bird
Summary (from Goodreads):
This Tom and Jerry interactive picture book holds a surprise on each page! Where is Jerry hiding? On the title page, on the back cover, or somewhere in between? Little readers will howl with delight each time they open the covers and try helping Tom find the mischievous mouse. Perfect for storytime.

A light, quirky "meta-fictional" picture book series using the well known, timeless characters of Tom and Jerry. Young readers will whoop with delight at the story and artwork, but parents and caregivers will also appreciate the humorous and gentle introduction to the process of reading and the parts of the book.


Disclaimer: I received an advanced ecopy of this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Initial Thought:
Oh look, Tom and Jerry! Are they still around?

General Thoughts:
I think this book would be fantastic as a paper or board book. It asks the reader to do certain things with the book (like shaking it or turning the page really fast). Kid's love doing things like that. It's very entertaining and for the younger ones, it helps teach following directions. 

It's not that it can't be done as an ebook, but I found myself wondering if doing the actions asked, if it would change the outcome. (It doesn't.) I know, what a spoiled world we live in! But, if you're going the ebook route and have it ask the reader to do things... it really should respond in some way. 

That said, it's actually really cute and I can see my son (and other little ones) having a lot of fun being able to really manhandle a book in that manner! 

Quibble: Tom is narrating. TOM. You know, the cat that doesn't talk. That was a bit weird to see. (Or does he talk now??) 

Cute book. Classic characters that may resonate more with the parents than the kids reading it.
This one is difficult to rate because I don't know if I'm rating it as a paper/board book or an ebook. As a paper/board book, it's a solid 4/5. As an ebook, it definitely falls short and gets a 2/5. 



Good for all ages.

Positive Messages:
  • Not a “message” really, but the book focuses more on subtle learning by asking the reader to follow some directions.
No issues with my kid's reading this. A fun picture book with memorable cartoon characters.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Change the World Before Bedtime by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good

Change the World Before Bedtime by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good
Summary (from Goodreads):
Written in simple, engaging rhyme, this story takes an inspirational look into how the little things in life a smile, a kind word, a simple deed can help change the world in a big way. Through 18 stunning illustrations, children will read about eating right, cleaning up the Earth by recycling and conserving, helping the sick and those less fortunate, and working in a group to make bigger miracles. Even an ordinary kid can be a superhero before bedtime! Grades Pre-K to 2.

About the Authors
Once upon a time, coincidence, fate, and magic conspired to introduce three big dreamers – Mark, Karen, and Josh. And new friends became forever friends who, separately and together, use their creative talents to change the world a little bit at a time.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced ecopy of this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ahh, my first official picture book review.

The illustrations are lovely. I liked them a lot. The book is mostly about recycling and the book has a very recycled scrapbook feel to it.
The rhymes are cute and have a nice flow to them. 

It's a cute picture book with nice rhymes. It also focuses on the importance of recycling and taking care of the planet.


Good for all ages. 

Positive Messages
  • Mentioned above: Focuses on recycling and taking care of the planet.

I would have no issues with either of my children reading this or having it be read to them.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Summary (from Wikipedia):
Written as fiction for readers of all ages, the literary classic has been considered a children's novel since the mid-twentieth century. It recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, a young orphan girl mistakenly sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister who have a farm on Prince Edward Island and who had intended to adopt a boy to help them. The novel recounts how Anne makes her way with the Cuthberts, in school and within the town.

Since publication, Anne of Green Gables has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages. Numerous sequels were written by Montgomery, and since her death another sequel has been published, as well as an authorized prequel. The original book is taught to students around the world.

It has been adapted as films, made-for-television movies, and animated and live-action television series. Plays and musicals have also been created, with productions annually in Canada since 1964 of the first musical production, which has toured in Canada, the United States, Europe and Japan. Others have been produced in Canada and the United States.

Cover provided by girlebooks.com. It has been altered in size to fit the overall look of my blog. 

Finished my first classic for the Classics Club Challenge!

I think I'm going to do the review for this one a bit differently – Not that I have a lot to compare to at this point. I feel a bit weird doing a point by point review for something that is over 100 years old.

Edition Read:
Girlebooks (free)
-Yes, I read two different versions. The content is the same, but there is a little bit of difference in the formatting. I ended up switching to the Timeless Reads version because I preferred it.

I enjoyed this book, but I won't lie. There were parts where I just did not feel like picking it back up right away. It starts to become formulaic in the middle. I can see why some people might be turned away from it. There are a few arcs that go beyond more than one chapter. It was during these where I found myself not putting the book down. I've heard a rumor this was originally published as a serial. I haven't been able to find proof this is true, but if it is the case, it makes a lot more sense because the book wouldn't have been intended to be read all at once. I could see this being a good one to just read a chapter a night.  

It's only around 300 pages long (according to my kobo) and manages to cover a span of 4 years. I wasn't expecting that, but it does work for the story. It's one of those books where nothing ever happens. Very slice of life. Each chapter is self contained, so it's very easy to put down, if you are so inclined. I like that the framing of the story mirrors childhood (and parenthood). Most of the book takes place within Anne's first year at Green Gables with Anne getting up to various antics and mischief. As Anne gets older, she matures and focuses more on what she feels is important to her.

The characters are wonderful and rich. The relationships were engaging. I loved how Matthew (and other "kindred spirits") just instantly took to Anne, while Anne and Marilla had to hash out their relationship over the years. Matthew's doting on Anne was perfect. I also liked Anne's relationships with her friends. Diana deserves a mention as they are best friends, but she was friends with a number of other girls. It's nice to see a book with good, solid female relationships all around. 

I was pleasantly surprised at how modern some of the attitudes are. Not everything, mind you, but Anne is not only encouraged to continue her education – Matthew and Marilla are adamant that Anne be able to provide for herself. There is also very little discussion of boys, courting/dating, getting married. There is some of it, but it's more mentioned in roundabout ways. Anne is very imaginative and at times could be a bit flighty, her character could have easily gone a completely different route. 

I initially found it really hard to give this one a rating. It's a really charming book and I do think I'll reread it at some point. Reading this book was like a walk on the beach. Simple, enjoyable, and relaxing.


Parental View
(Warning: The following contains mild spoilers.) 

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
religious overtones (only one chapter)
mild racism/culturalism*

(Possible) Concerns:
  • If you are non-religious/not Christian (like my household), there is mention of praying, church, and God(Christian). The entire book isn't based around it, but there is an entire chapter in the beginning dedicated to Anne learning to say her prayers. (It's titled “Anne Says Her Prayers”.) I was put off by that one chapter because of Marilla's reaction to Anne not praying.
    It should be noted that I did not find this offensive or overbearing for the book as a whole - just that one chapter. I also found it to be very in-character for Marilla.
"I never say any prayers," announced Anne.
Marilla looked horrified astonishment.
Marilla tells Anne to say her prayers and go to bed.
  • There is some mild racism/culturalism*. Anne purchases something from a peddler and Marilla's response was that she told Anne not to let “those Italians” in. Admittedly, that's pretty minor, but worth a mention.
    *I have no idea what the appropriate word to use here is.
"Anne Shirley, how often have I told you never to let one of those Italians in the house! I don't believe in encouraging them to come around at all."
Marilla to Anne after finding out Anne has purchased from a peddler.
  • I don't want to give away any major spoilers, but there is a death in the book. I found it to be handled very well. 
Positive Messages:
  • Anne is quite vain and critical of her own looks in the beginning of the book. She is told on more than one occasion by more than one person that there is more to life than looks.
    She (mostly) gets over her vanity at a very specific – and quite funny – scene in the book.
"[Diana] is good and smart, which is better than being pretty."
Marilla to Anne when asked if Diana is pretty.
  • There is a lot of emphasis on doing well in school, continuing education, and getting a good job to provide for oneself.
"I believe in a girl being fitted to earn her own living whether she ever has to or not. You'll always have a home at Green Gables as long as Matthew and I are here, but nobody knows what is going to happen in this uncertain world, and it's just as well to be prepared."
Marilla to Anne when asked if she can take the entrance exam to the Queen's class.
  • It shows the true value of love and friendship. No quotes here because it gives away the ending. I found it to be very touching. It's an everybody wins scenario, but it's done well and works here.
  • I didn't find there to be a lot of negative competition between any of the female characters. No competing over boys or bad mouthing each other behind their backs. I find this is a good thing, but also surprising because the majority of characters are female. 
I would absolutely let my daughter (and son) read this book. Anne is a wonderful character and a great role model for young girls.

I do think for her that it would probably be better to read it to or with her given her age, but I wouldn't have a problem with her reading it on her own either. (She does own two copies; one physical and one digital.)