Monday, April 4, 2016

A Collection of Kids' Books

Be Careful, Mr. Frumble! (Pictureback®)Be Careful, Mr. Frumble! by Richard Scarry
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

* * * The following three books were read and reviewed by me & my niece Emma * * *

I am on a mission to bring the joy of Richard Scarry to my niece. I am determined that one day she will love his work as much as I did as a kid.

I've got a couple things holding me back though. One is the quality differential of illustrated books from my era to today. When I was a kid we had the simple line drawings of Shel Silverstein and we liked it...HELL, WE LOVED IT! We were lucky to have them and we cherished them, damn it! Today the kids have books based on Pixar movies that contain the same 3D, realistically shadowed, professionally rendered, and highly life-like cartoon characters. It's tough to compete with that.

The other issue is Scarry himself. Not necessarily his unfortunate name, which gave me pause as a child, but rather the books themselves. I've picked up two from the library for Emma so far, just what was available at that branch. One was a turd and this one wasn't much better.

Be Careful, Mr. Frumble is about a messy pig who gets his hat blown away by the wind. He spends the whole book chasing after it. He races by bug-eyed anthropomorphic neighbors, by Swiss Alps scenery, alongside a World War I German fighter pilot, through a town, over water, etc. It's quite the long chase, but it's also redundant and not that thrilling. Emma was pressing me on, pushing me to turn the next page. I read at a frantic, excited pace and part of her wanted to see what was next and part of her wanted to finish the thing.

Come on, Scarry, help me out here!

Big Monster, Little Monster (Monsters University: Step into Reading)Big Monster, Little Monster by Mary Tillworth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A movie tie-in easy-reader for the sequel/prequel to the incredibly successful Monsters, INC. It's about going to college, but the text is extremely basic: "Big monster, Little Monster; Hairy Monster, Bald Monster". It could really be about anything if it weren't for the pictures showing the characters going to school.

Emma whizzed through this one with only one trip up on the word "together". I think she could've gotten it on her own except that she got distracted by the colorful, lively pictures.

Having never heard of the movie Monsters University, because I am old and out of it, I looked it up on IMDB, which led me to click on Billy Crystal's page. On actors' IMDB pages they post billboard pictures of the movies that the actor is known for. Crystal is known for When Harry Met Sally, Analyze This, Monsters INC...and Monsters University???? That's ridiculous! What about City Slickers, Soap or even SNL?! What a travesty!

Crayon Craze! (Julius Jr.)Crayon Craze! by Mary Tillworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While everyone else is outside playing, a couple girl animals use a crayon to make most everything in the classroom pink.

And why not? Doesn't everyone love pink? Emma sure does and I think that's why she picked out this book. Heck, even I chuckled as Emma read to me about when Ping the Panda paints Worry Bear's monkey pink, because I am childish and things that make me think of private parts still make me laugh.

Anywhooo, Emma was in for a surprise when at the end of the story all the other animals were NOT super happy about all their things being pink! What to do, what to do?! You'll have to read this enjoyable and quite colorful book yourself to find out!

The Emma-o-meter showed a surprisingly wide range of emotions over Crayon Craze!: fun and happiness, shock and bemusement to name a few.