Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
* * * The following three books were read and reviewed by me & my niece Emma * * *
Emma has real doubts about that title. I fought for Richard Scarry, but I'm afraid the 5 year old girl might be right.
Scarry's cartoony fantasy land populated with eyelid-less, anthropomorphic animals was absolutely beloved by yours truly when I was but a wee lad. However, this incarnation has none of the sense of fun found in the Scarry books I read as a boy. Nothing, I mean nothing out of the ordinary happens in Best.... In the Scarry books of my youth, the characters got into all kinds of zany japery. I recall one high-larious episode in which an ape went for a joy ride that turned the town upside down!
(In retrospect, I think the ape was a watch thief.)
This...thing is nothing more than animal people doing nothing untoward, just normal day-to-day activities: waking up in the morning, playing on the playground, building things, farming, going shopping, etc. There are pages of airplanes, cars, zoo animals, firefighters, things you'd find at the beach, and facial expressions. Each page is filled with these items. Each item has its word beside it. Each page has one short, explanatory paragraph with such "riveting" prose as:
School is fun. There are so many things we learn to do. Kathy Bear is learning how to find a lost mitten.
OH MY GOODNESS! Call out the National Guard! Someone get the Bureau of Lost Mittens on the line!
Holy hell, talk about boring.
Not only is this book fun-free, I couldn't even find my favorite character Lowly, an earthworm in a dashing little hat.
Aside from a logo on the cover, Lowly doesn't seem to appear in the book at all. Each page is so very busy that perhaps I missed him, but I looked and looked for such a long while that Emma went off to entertain herself elsewhere and came back some time later asking, "Did you find him?!" Yes, that exclamation point is necessary. Emma possesses an "indoor voice," but likes to know she's being heard.
Okay, so clearly Best... is meant to be a book for learning purposes, but did it have to be so purposefully dull? One reason my be that this was one of the author's very early books. I'm no Richard Scarry scholar, but it would seem he started off staid and later amped up the good times.
Whether you were born in the '60s or the '00s, kids like fun, and so for this one the Emma-o-meter registered utter disinterest.
Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
* * *Read and Reviewed by Me & My Niece Emma * * *
Horrendous. I understand and accept the dumbing down of this sing-along standard (back in my day it was always 10 of this or that, but the rhyme was also much more repetitive than today's version), but this isn't good in any way, shape or form. The rhyme just sucks and the ending is lame.
I only picked this up for Emma, because last school year I recalled helping her memorize just such a "5 Little..." (I think it was ducks) which she had to recite to her class, so I figured she could read this one to me. We got it home and it was such a hot day yesterday that we sped through her library books in order to go swimming, and I accidentally read this to her without thinking. So we didn't even get any reading practice out of it. I don't blame the book for that.....no wait, I do, because if the book hadn't sucked so much we might've slowed down to savor it more and had the wherewithal to recall what we'd gotten it out for in the first place!
The Emma-o-meter for Five Little Pumpkins at first registered the excitement of recollection soon followed by a grave disappointment.
Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
* * *Read and Reviewed by Me & My Niece Emma* * *
A daddy red-headed woodpecker sends his son into the world to peck holes in things and boy howdy, that little bird is one hell of a pecker!
The moment I saw this sitting on the library shelf, I knew we'd be reading it. You see, Emma is a first class sucker for any book with holes in it.
Peck, Peck, Peck just might be the book that busts that proclivity. It was nothing but page after page of a woodpecker pecking holes in various objects. At the high point, he gets into somebody's home and pokes freaking holes in everything, even their jellybeans!
But that's it. That's all that happens. No one chases off the bird. There's no lesson to be learned aside from that woodpeckers like to peck holes, and the why of that phenomenon isn't even explained. Also, the artwork is meh subpar.
I think this would be more suitable for the 3-4 age range. Maybe I should've pointed that out while we were at the library.
The Emma-o-meter registered only a couple giggles.
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