Saturday, May 2, 2009

Book Reviews of Three Children's Books

These three children's books are due back to the library tomorrow, but I can't return them without sharing some of them with you. We enjoyed each of them, for different reasons, as they are very different from each other.

I Took the Moon for a Walk, by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay

Told in simple but lyrical prose, this is a story about a young boy who takes the moon for a night-time walk. In a bit of a role-reversal, it is the boy who is protective of the moon, guarding their special friendship.

We tiptoed through grass where the nightcrawlers creep
when the rust-bellied robins have all gone to sleep
And the moon called the dew so the grass seemed to weep
When I took the Moon for a walk.
We raced for the swings, where I kicked my feet high
And imagined the Moon had just asked me to fly.

Isn't that gorgeous? This is a very soothing, lullaby-type of book, a little reminiscent of the classic Goodnight, Moon. At the end of the book, there are two pages of educational information about the moon and "the world at night" (various nocturnal animals, etc.) I will need a new baby gift for a friend in a few weeks, and I always enjoy giving books as baby gifts. I may be including this one with some others as a present.

Princess Grace, by Mary Hoffman; Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu

We are a tad bit obsessed with All Things Princess in this house, to put it mildly. So when I saw this book on display at the library, I glanced at it initially; it was when Betty observed the word princess emblazoned in all its pinkness on the cover that I looked closer.

This is not, thankfully, your typical princess book. Thank God. It appears to start off that way, with two girls in the class being selected as princesses in a town parade. Grace is thrilled about this prospect, and as a fan of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, begins to plan her costume. While doing so, she inquires about what princesses actually do ... and neither Grace nor her friends can come up with much other than looking pretty. The class begins to learn about real princesses "like Amina of Nigeria, who led warriors into battle and built walls around all the villages, and Pin-Yang of China, who started a woman's army." Grace realizes that these real-life princess are even more interesting than the fairytale princesses, and decides to portray a strong, courageous girl in the town parade.

I am very passionate about giving girls opportunities to discover their own worth and self-confidence, and while that might be a tall order for a children's book, I think this is an excellent story for young Disney-obsessed girls to see examples of strong inspiring figures. There are several other books about Grace, which are mentioned on Mary Hoffman's website.

Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again! by Dave Horowitz

Poor Humpty. He's recuperating after his great fall off the wall, according to doctor's orders ("one of the King's Horses had the good sense to call a Doctor."), watching too much daytime television in his underwear and enduring the ridicule of All the King's Horses and All the King's Men as they ride by his house. Even the Dish and the Spoon can't get Humpty out of the dumps. Eventually, he's persuaded to leave the house and finds himself right back at the same ol' wall ... where one of the King's Horses has climbed up and gotten stuck.

What to do, what to do? Does Humpty risk being embarrassed and teased again if he attempts the climb and falls again? Or does he dust himself off and try all over again? (Hint: safety equipment and harnesses are involved this go-around, which factors into the decision.)

The illustrations in this book are hilarious and appealing to kids who, like Boo, enjoy a bit of potty humor ("What is this?" says one King's Men to another, holding a piece of eggshell. Answers another King's Man: "I think it's his butt." As would probably be the case for most 7 year olds, this line was Boo's absolute hands-down favorite.) That's the only instance of such language, though, and it isn't offensive or mentioned elsewhere in the story.

Author Dave Horowitz's website is here and includes some trailers for this and his other books, as well as some illustrations of animals.

Happy children's book reading!


Anonymous said...

I Took The Moon for a Walk is one of our absolute favorites! And we love Alison Jay. Have you read William and the Night Train? Or The Race?

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

Oh, yes ... love William and the Night Train! I forgot about that one. I will have to look for The Race.