Wednesday, February 5, 2014

WWRW: Party Animals by Katie Davis

Okay, guys, for the record, I don't usually have strong opinions of picture books. They've all got colorful pictures, a narration, and a separate laminated cover that annoys you when it falls off.

Party Animals generates a strong feeling. Of nausea.

It's just so... random.

Okay, the plot is that there's a party at the barnyard. The ant thinks he's the only one not invited, but it turns out to be a surprise birthday party for him. It's chock full of preschool "education" by mentioning colors and numbers. Here's an example:

"Two purple frogs croaking, "Will there be dancing?" and tossing a salad for the party." 

The annoying thing is the randomness factor. Like, why are the frogs talking about dancing, or making a salad? They're not making even something like fly pie?

At the number six, there are "Six red ponies neighing, "Let's play Pin the Tail On the Donkey!" and playing Frisbee before the party."

Pin the tail on the donkey? What does that have to do with ponies? Oh, but don't forget, they're also playing Frisbee.

Hmm. That's not confusing.

At ten and eleven, there are ten hens laying eggs for the party. Already, you're wondering, "Are they eating a lot of eggs at the party or something? Strange." But then, at eleven, the eggs hatch and there are chicks making eggshell salad, thereby making number ten make no sense (officially) and, eggshell salad? Oh, I admit, the chicks are cute (one has an eggshell on it's head covering its eyes, bringing to mind Mare-Bear's hairdo), but... random.

So, if you're looking for an educational preschool picture book, I recommend not even considering Party Animals. It'll save you a lot of anguish and trouble.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What We're Reading Wednesday : A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

We all know what modern kid's books are like. The main character is a 'rebel' who thinks her parents are mean, everything is unfair, and who spends her dinnertime crying in her room, all the while being a jerk herself.

From the very first pages of A Little Princess, you can tell Sara Crewe is of a different breed.

She is only seven at the beginning, but already her father is her best friend, she's very polite, and completely unspoiled by her father's riches. When she has to stay at Miss Minchin's Seminary for Girl's, although she doesn't want to, she stays without complaint.

Sara has an imagination. She is kind to three most shunned beings at the seminary; Lottie the crybaby, Ermengarde the school dunce, and Becky, the slave-like maid. Even when the misfortunes of her father's death and the loss of her fortune strike, turning her into a penniless orphan, she is still polite. Her version of rebelling against Miss Minchin's keeping her like a slave is to not rebel, which infuriates Miss Minchin. She even swallows her pride and and accepts a sixpence from a boy mistaking her for a beggar!

Of course the plot is entertaining, and has a happy ending involving the finding of her father's friend and the return of Sara's riches, but the real jewel behind the story is Sara herself, who is a real role model while still staying on a human scale.

So long, modern books. I'm sticking with Sara.