Book Reviews: Giant Kid Edition

The blog entry is giant, not the kid.
Yes, instead of the usual four you get an even dozen. . . but not a baker’s dozen, don’t be greedy.

Baba Yaga
Another retelling of the old Russian legend used to scare children, told mostly in nice little watercolor paintings. Warning: Little Olga, with her round face and red pigtails, is extremely cute. I’ve always thought Baba Yaga wasn’t very smart, and here she proves it again.
An excellent book for the very young, which I’m told I act like sometimes.

Ian at Grandma and Grandpa’s House
Originally from Belgium, though it sure doesn’t read like it, this is a fun and reassuring picture book about a toddler who likes to spend time with his grandparents. There’s a running conceit about how Ian thinks everyone’s silly, except himself, of course. Curly the Dog wins with three sillies; too bad there wasn’t a rabbit in the story.
The drawings are cute and colorful, though at the beginning and end there’s random pictures of objects floating about that made me think my digital edition was screwy.

Star Light, Star Bright
Wishing upon a star gets you to Mars. . . that almost rhymes. This book leads you on an incredibly quick tour of the solar system, with one or two facts about each planet and the moon.
The artwork looks digital, computer stuff done to look almost 3-D.
Last third of the already short book is fact file, glossary, biblio, websites, and index.

Puggle’s Problem
In this short picture book, “Pipp Puggle was as plump and healthy as a baby echidna should be.” Don’t know how many American kids will know what an echidna is, but this baby can’t wait for his spines to come, becoming very anxious about it. He even asks other animals how they got their signature body parts or traits, and tries them all, which only leads to more frustration. When Mom tells him the only thing that can help is patience, he thinks, “I haven’t tried that yet. Where can I find some?” And wouldn’t we all like to know the answer to that one?
The drawings are sparse watercolor, which I imagine would be just right for the targeted age group.

Laura Monster Crusher
In this relatively long prose book probably targeted to teens, Laura is a young girl whose taller than all her classmates, which makes her a pariah even before she finds an elevator hiding in her closet that takes her to a mystical magical underground land. . . eh, why not? I’ve seen weirder, and this makes more sense than a cabinet.
Oddly enough, nothing much happens in this story—some battles, but mostly her thoughts—but it’s still enjoyable. I thought her brother being blind made things more interesting, and in a way it did near the end. The monster fighting book she was forced to read sounds like it would sell better than this one. But the best part is the psychological insights into an early teen girl with body image issues and how she overcame them.
There’s a lot of world building for what turned out to be a small plot, but you can tell sequels are planned.

#BabyLove: My Toddler Life
With some simple rhyming verses, for really young kids—three or four—this book tells the story of a toddler who can’t wait to get his hands on mommy’s phone. When Mom finds out she tries to impart a life lesson, though I’m not so sure the kid is listening.
Basically a reminder to put down your phones and connect with real-live people.

Bedtime for Buzzy
Simply put, Buzzy doesn’t want to go to sleep, despite all his toys urging him to. He imagines all the adventures he could be having with them until he’s reminded dreams are good for that too.
One of the first brightly colored paintings that caught my attention featured toy astronauts and dinosaurs. . . so immediately I thought Toy Story. The drawings of Moon Man’s perpetually shocked face are priceless and the highlight of the whole book.

Everton Miles Is Stranger Than Me
In this story, which is a sequel—I have not read the first—a young teen spends her evenings flying around town with Everton, who can also fly. They have protectors, both human and mythological, but there’s also a bad guy who wants to kidnap her for some reason that ties in with the disappearance of her dad.
Strange when the person in the title is not the main character, although you can argue “Me” is in there. There’s an interesting twist near the end that delves into pure fantasy; most of this story takes place in our world, where people can’t fly and there’s no beautiful ancient beings fighting celestial battles.
Despite this being targeted for pre-teens or teens, I can hear a kid’s voice as I read this. Most importantly, it was actually pretty fun. Gonna needta go back and read the first.

Pilots and What They Do
This story that was first published in Amsterdam in 2009 starts with cute drawings of seemingly random objects, though there is an airplane and an apple-cheeked pilot who looks about 8. Everything you need to know about it is right there in the title.
“The tower tells the pilot he is allowed to take off. How exciting!” There’s a lot of detail, covering every aspect of takeoff and how amazing it must be to fly off to faraway lands all the time.
Most of the drawings are watercolors that look drawn by children, which renders them very cute.
An instructive engaging picture book for toddlers. . . “toddlers” being the key word.

Dreaming of Mocha
First published in Amsterdam in 2015, this is a strange one. I don’t know if there’s supposed to be a story here. Seemingly random watercolor paintings of a girl with a dog, playing with but definitely not dreaming about. Perhaps there isn’t supposed to be a story, in which case just give this to the kid so they can enjoy the drawings.

Little Man on Campus: The Jimmy Williams Story
This story of a short young man heading off to college seems to belong in the YA section rather than kids, but that’s where I found it.
Everything you need to know about him is encapsulated here, especially the last word: “I don’t need my mother going around and beating up bullies anymore.” On his first day of college he falls in lust with the first girl he meets, finds out his roommates are giant jocks, and acquires his own personal Yoda. Yes, he falls in love with the prettiest girl in school and still is shocked she already has a boyfriend; thought he was supposed to be smart. It’s a good thing the cafeteria guy takes him under his wing and teaches him life lessons, because some of his. . . cluelessness is just painful, bordering on cruel. I’m not a fan of butt monkeys. There are points when he’s even beyond clueless. On the Big Bang Theory scale of nerdiness, first he’s Sheldon, then he’s Howard.
The scene with Susan dancing in front of mirror is my fave. There’s some fun stuff in here, but you can tell it’s a first book.

Gross Greg
Greg lives up to his moniker and then some!
“They taste like chicken,” Greg likes to say///“Ewwwww!” screams his little sister as she runs away.
You’ll find out soon enough what they’re talking about.
This is an extremely short book, only 40 pages, and even then a rhyming couplet or drawing takes up a whole page and leaves a lot of white. The best artwork is of Mom, who’s clad in a multi-colored dress that looks simply brilliant. But that’s one of the few highlights.
Put it this way: if this makes ME queasy, I can only imagine what it does to kids. And with kids being so impressionable, what parent would want to read this to their kid?


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