Book Reviews: Kiddie Stuff

Whenever a woman comes on to me and I need to let her down gently, I tell her about my fetish for tall ladies: “You have to be at least 6’2 to ride this ride!”

Fifty Nifty Facts about Cats
The title does not lie. What you get here is the book form and bigger version of those Facebook links you end up getting even if you didn’t want to.
At least some of them are interesting. Felines are the only animals who don’t like sweets? That explains a lot! And cats would be pissed to know that they share something with dogs: an aversion to chocolate.
It turns out I’m not allergic to cat fur; I’m allergic to a protein in their saliva which gets into the fur while grooming. Whatever, same sneezy.
So some are fun, others obvious, most in between. With the pictures it should make kids happy.

The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale
A historical story from Dutch Colonial Noo Yawk, in the town that later became Albany.
Saint Nicholas is the Dutch version and primary source for Santa Claus, only thinner. Cookies shaped like him are the big draw during Christmas. With that background comes the story of a successful baker, whose luck changes when an old woman comes in and demands that a dozen is 13. When she doesn’t get it she puts a curse on him, and it takes him a whole year and a dream to figure things out.
And supposedly that’s where the expression Baker’s Dozen comes from.
Bright autumn colors vastly overshadow the small written parts. Some kids may forget to read, considering how these paintings draw the eye. But it works if treated as a picture book with long captions.

The Sea King’s Daughter: A Russian Legend
A poor musician in Russia loves his city but is lonely, cuz girls—or their families—only care about money. The Sea King hears him playing and invites him to give a royal recital, but he has to find his own way to the underwater kingdom, which is the hard part. But it’s the artwork that is vastly more important here than the actual story.
The illustrations are said to be done in “fairy-tale realism,” which sounds awesome. They do come off as dreamy; even the title page has the city walls on all four borders. The dancing scenes are so richly illustrated I can’t tell where to look first. There’s even a cute braided little girl in one corner. And then the underwater palace dance scene surpasses the previous.
“Music is worth far more than gold!” Yes. . .
I’d always thought this was a strange story, or at least had a strange ending, for a kid’s tale. Even though he got rich and married and had kids, there’s still a sadness that he chose his city over a beautiful princess. What exactly is the message here? But look at the amazing drawings and don’t worry about plot.
The extras, like a deleted scene, are online, with links that can take you there straight from the ebook.

Adventures of a Kid Magician
Everything you need to know is in the title: a skinny geek finds a way to survive school by entertaining with magic.
At the end of each chapter there’s a question about the story, and if you get it right you go online and use it as a password to see a video that teaches you how to do the magic trick you just read about. These videos alone are worth the price of this book.
The drawings are simple yet wonderful, especially those of Sammi, the girl who has a crush on him and he’s too clueless to see. She cleans up nicely.


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