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Welcome to ReadThatAgain.com, a just-for-fun website reviewing a bunch of children's books that our family has enjoyed over the last few years. We try to find fun, intelligent, well-crafted books, but most importantly, books that kids like! Hopefully you'll find these reviews useful... Please feel free to comment on the site or send recommendations for books we may have missed... In the meantime, enjoy!

This is the first page of books written by authors under the letter "E"

Kids Books -- "E" By Author

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"Sam And The Fire Fly"
Written by P. D. Eastman
Illustrated by P. D. Eastman
(Beginner's Books, 1958)

An owl named Sam, who's lonely at night when everyone else is asleep, strikes up a friendship with a mischievous firefly, who he stays up with all night, teaching him to spell by using the glowing trailer of his light. The firefly, being mischievous, uses this new skill to wreck havoc in town -- at least he gets his comeuppance and learns to behave. Although the art is nice (love that old-look '50s graphic style!) but the story was a little convoluted and violent... Probably okay for "older" kids (3-4 and up?) but I didn't want to read it when our kid was really little... Sort of too negative and weird for that age group.

"Go Dog, Go!"
Written by P. D. Eastman
Illustrated by P. D. Eastman
(Beginner's Books, 1963)

One of the most famous of the "fake Dr. Seuss" Beginner's Books," P.D. Eastman's canine caper explores a variety of opposites -- stop/go, up/down, in/out, hot/cold, etc. This blandly written volume can be sheer torture for parents -- the writing is purposefully simplistic and flat -- but the fact that little kids love it so much is testament to its power... Plus, isn't it fun when the pink poodle and the yellow hound finally hook up at the end? One quibble: if "night is not a time for play" (pages 48-49), then why do we see three dogs having a party at night on a boat, earlier in the book? Stuff like that drives me crazy. But maybe that's just me. All in all, a deserving classic. Kids love it. (B)

"Are You My Mother?"
Written by P. D. Eastman
Illustrated by P. D. Eastman
(Beginner's Books, 1966)

A newly-hatched little bird tumbles out of the nest, in search of his errant mother... He asks the other animals if they... Oh, heck, you know the drill. Why bother with the plot summary!? This is one of Eastman's best books -- it reads well and is a perfect story to practice your funny animal voices. Plus, I've always loved Eastman's artwork, and this plucky little bird is one of his most memorable characters. One of the best of the faux-Seuss Beginner's Books... All this, and a cuddly, happy ending, to boot! Highly recommended... a winner! (A)

"The Cat In The Hat Beginner Book Dictionary -- In Spanish"
Written by P.D. Eastman
Illustrated by P.D. Eastman
(Random House/Beginner Books, 1966)

A nice entry-level reference book... I've never been that into the English-only version, but this bilingual edition is much more engaging. The pictures are cheerful and illustrative (you gotta love Eastman's artwork!) and there are gazillions of entries, with lots of fun stuff to look at... A few small quibbles: the Cat In The Hat branding is a little duplicitous, since the Cat doesn't appear anywhere inside the book, other than on the front cover. Also, the Spanish content is given secondary status to the English entries -- the book's graphic layout remains the same, so it is still organized by the English-language words (All, Ant, Apple, Attic, etc.) instead of the Spanish, which is fine if you are approaching it as an English speaker, but it doesn't work well for a language immersion approach (you can't learn a bunch of Spanish-language "A" words all at the same time, for example.) More significantly, the singular forms of each word are not always given -- Spanish words are introduced within the context of sample sentences, so nouns are often pluralized, and verbs are often conjugated (although only in one form), so you need to have considerable previous background with the language to really explain the translations. All in all, though, this is a very good resource, which introduces over 1300 words en espanol and also provides a pronunciation guide at the end, just in case. A fine tool, especially when used in conjunction with other language resources. (Also see: my modest bilingual book list) (B+)

"The Best Nest"
Written by P.D. Eastman
Illustrated by P.D. Eastman
(Beginner Books, 1968)

Naturally, when Mr. Bird sings a song in praise of their birdhouse, Mrs. Bird tells him, au contraire, it is high time for them to move out of the old dump. A series of prospective new homes bring one disaster after another, until they finally find the place that is just right. One of the finer Eastman epics, with clear, illustrative artwork and a light, humorous touch. Toddlers might find Mr. Bird's panic over whether a cat ate his wife a little freaky, but other than that, this is a nice story. (B)

"Big Dog... Little Dog"
Written by P. D. Eastman
Illustrated by P. D. Eastman
(Beginner's Books, 1973)

A pretty pedestrian offering from the well-known Eastman. Two dogs are near-opposites, but best buddies anyway. They have a mildly engaging adventure and resolve a minor problem. This one's okay for little readers, but there's certainly better stuff you could read instead. One nice touch is the hitchhiking bird that follows them around -- a groovy anachronism from the hippie era when this was published. (C+)

"My First Day Of Nursery School"
Written by Becky Edwards
Illustrated by Anthony Flintoft
(Bloomsbury, 2002)

A great book about going to school for the first time... A little girl wakes up knowing she has to go to nursery school for the first time, and after she gets dropped off by her mother, she immediately cries out, "I WANT MY MOMMY!" But she also notices all the cool stuff there is to do at school -- painting, playing, dancing, meeting friends -- and each time her homesickness hits, it's a little less severe. By the time her mom comes to pick her up, she's having so much fun, she doesn't want to go home! I read this one to my girl when she was one-and-a-half and when we finished, she instantly said, "I wanna go nursery school!" Guess the authors must be on the right track. I really like the artwork, too. (A)

"Dear Tooth Fairy"
Written by Pamela Duncan Edwards
Illustrated by Marie-Lousie Fitzpatrick
(Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books, 2003)

A genuinely funny book about losing one's baby teeth... A girl named Claire, who just turned six, is anxious to get underway, and writes letters to the Tooth Fairy, letting her know that she is ready, willing and able to lose that first tooth. Things really start to get fun when the Tooth Fairy starts to write back, and in the course of their dialogue, we meet Claire's friends Amanda and Jimmy, who are both ready to lose their baby teeth, too. The story is full of humor that parents will enjoy -- and that kids may cotton onto as well -- and the text is complimented by beautiful, creative artwork. A nice entry point into a potentially difficult subject... Parents who are leery of the bribery aspect of the Tooth Fairy myth (leaving money under the pillow, etc.) are advised that in this book the TF leaves a buck behind... Mostly, though, it's about a little girl's eagerness to grow big, even while she enjoys the fantasy world of being small. Recommended. (B+)

"Gigi And Lulu's Gigantic Fight"
Written by Pamela Duncan Edwards
Illustrated by Henry Cole
(Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books, 2004)

Two best friends -- Gigi the pig and Lulu the mouse -- get into a big fight about nothing and both fume about it for a week, each refusing to make up with the other. When they do finally reconcile, each discovers that the other actually was a little bit different than they thought: they used to dress the same all the time, but it turns out they were dressing up in clothes that neither one really liked that much. This element of their reconciliation is a bit odd, since their fight wasn't about their whole twinsy, peas-in-a-pod relationship, but rather about a game they were playing. Like the ending, the story itself seems a bit forced, and the way in which they resolve their differences isn't really that instructive either: instead of confronting the issue at hand and saying, I'm sorry I knocked down your blocks and, yeah, I'm sorry I yelled at you too, they have a clumsy revelation about aspects of their friendship that weren't clearly problematic to begin with. There are other books that deal with problems within friendships that you might want to check out first, though I suppose this one is okay. (C+)

"Serious Farm"
Written by Tim Egan
Illustrated by Tim Egan
(Houghton Mifflin, 2003)

His crops look nice, but Farmer Fred is kind of a killjoy: "Nothin' funny about corn," he likes to say. Nothing else is funny to Farmer Fred, either, and after a while all the animals on his farm get tired of his all-work, no-play attitude. They try to cheer him up an make him laugh; pigs climb trees, goats do handstands, a cow tries to crow like a rooster, but Fred just keeps grumbling about how farming is serious work, and tells the critters to cut it out. Finally, they quit and leave for happier ground, which causes Fred to do a little soul searching and lighten up a little. But only a little: it turns out Farmer Fred didn't need cheering up after all, because he wasn't sad so much as he's just plain serious. He doesn't mind if other people have fun, though... A funny story, and a little less abstract than some of Egan's other gems. Plus, it gives adult readers a good opportunity to work on their monotone... Here, try it with me: "Broccoli's no fun. I never laugh at bell peppers." (B+)

"Distant Feathers"
Written by Tim Egan
Illustrated by Tim Egan
(Houghton Mifflin, 1998)

A delightfully daffy tall tale about a giant (and somewhat dim-witted and clumsy) parrot named Feathers who flies a rocket ship to a planet populated with tiny, civilized mice. The teensy townspeople take a liking to Feathers even though he keeps stepping on their houses, but they can never quite find an actual use for him... Until he goes away and they realize that maybe just having him as a friend is good enough. Another oddball offering from Tim Egan; of his books, this one is probably more accessible to younger children. It's funny, too! (B)

"Eating The Alphabet"
Written by Lois Ehlert
Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
(Bloomsbury, 2004)

Although I admire her bold, brightly colored collage art, not many of Ehlert's books appeal to me... Not sure why. This one, however, is a gem. When I saw a super-grubby copy of it in the local library, I knew right away I'd want to own it, and sure enough, when I was able to track a new copy down, it was an instant hit with my girl, who goes to the farmer's market every week and is really into fresh produce. Apples, blueberries, cucumbers and corn... Dozens of fruits and veggies are shown, each more enticing than the next. For parents who want to encourage healthy diets full of fresh, whole foods, this book will be indispensable. It was a big success at our house. (A)

"Oh No, Gotta Go!"
Written by Susan Middleton Elya
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
(G. P. Putnam & Sons, 2003)

A really cute bilingual (Spanish-English) book about learning to go potty in the outside world. A family is out for a Sunday drive when their little girl announces, with great urgency, that she needs to pee -- NOW. DE PRISA. The rhyming text is effective and amusing, the pictures are a hoot (some of the finest work Karas has done to date...) and the integration of the Spanish vocabulary is skillfully handled, as is the issue of potty training and needing to go when you need to go. One of Elya's finest books -- definitely worth checking out! (A)

"Bebe Goes Shopping"
Written by Susan Middleton Elya
Illustrated by Steven Salerno
(Harcourt, 2006)

An engaging, entertaining multicultural baby book, following a bright-eyed latino toddler as he goes through the supermarket with his mother. While Mama goes down her shopping list, Bebe picks out a few things of his own, until she distracts him with some animal crackers. The trip to the supermercado is punctuated with plenty of Spanish words and phrases -- flores, dulces, manos, hijo, dinero -- and, when the crackers come out, animal names such as leon and oso. The stylized, cartoonish artwork is cheerful and easily understood, and contains plenty of fun visual asides (the baby dropping the box of crackers while they're standing in line, etc.) Nice book! My little girl picked up several Spanish words after we read this a couple of times. (B+)

"Sophie's Trophy"
Written by Susan Middleton Elya
Illustrated by Viviana Garofoli
(G. P. Putnam & Sons, 2006)

A weird bilingual book about beauty/body images and competitiveness. A toad named Sophie is envious of her good-looking brother, who wins trophy after trophy in various modeling contests. Sophie, whose homeliness is cataloged in great detail in the anxiety-laden prologue, does, however, have a great voice and winds up winning a prize of her own in a talent contest. Thus, there's a happy ending, since now she can be competitive with her hermano guapo (and also, because she won a trophy, he likes her now). Two things bugged me about this one: the overall premise, with the sharp emphasis on looks and outward validation seems pretty icky; that, and how forced and clumsy the insertion of Spanish vocab words felt. I've enjoyed Elya's earlier work, particularly Oh No, Gotta Go, but this one seemed like a real clunker -- it's supposed to be about promoting self-esteem, but enshrines the very values that press down on the main character. I'd skip this one, particularly if you have a little girl -- dealing with Cinderella is bad enough! (D)

"F Is For Fiesta"
Written by Susan Middleton Elya
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
(G. P. Putnam & Sons, 2006)

This small-size alphabet primer introduces several nice Spanish words (and reinforces others already seen in earlier Elya books...) as well as some of the special characters used in the Spanish alphabet ("CH," "LL," "RR," and the tilda-ed "N") It's more workmanlike and less magical than her other titles, though, in part because the unnamed boy whose birthday is the source of all the regalos and dulces isn't as vivid or individual a character as Bebe or the little girl who has to pee in Oh No, Gotta Go! But it may suffer only in contrast to the other books: if you're looking for a good introductory bilingual text, this is every bit as accessible and effective as her other books... Elya has a real knack for giving the information without laying it on too thick, or making it seem like a chore... The stories are fun, the characters' enthusiasm is contagious and the rhymes read well. What more could you want? (A)

"Go Away Big Green Monster"
Written by Ed Emberley
Illustrated by Ed Emberley
(Little, Brown & Co., 1992)

A cool book for toddlers who are working through issues about "monsters" and the feelings they represent... A cartoonish boogieman is built on piece at a time with layered, die-cut pages -- first we see its eyes, then its nose, then its red mouth and scary teeth -- and then, midway through the book, the narrator says "go away" to the monster, and the process reverses. Each feature disappears until we're back to the eyes, and when they go away, the child is in control: "Don't come back," they say, "...until I say so." It's a very simple, straightforward message: monsters are creatures of the imagination, and you can control them. If they're scary, you can make them go away, or maybe just acknowledge and tame them. Plus, it's a fun book! Colorful and well-concieved, and an excellent tool for helping cope with the dark side. (B+)

"Glad Monster, Sad Monster: A Book About Feelings"
Written by Ed Emberley & Anne Miranda
Illustrated by Ed Emberley
(Little, Brown & Co., 1997)


"Ruby In Her Own Time"
Written by Jonathan Emmett
Illustrated by Rebecca Harry
(Scholastic Books, 2004)

Is your kid taking his or her time learning to walk, or talk, or brush their teeth, or eat with a spoon, or memorizing the circumference of Venus or the table of elements? Tired of having friends and family ask when some specific developmental "milestone" will be attained? Then this is the book for you! Ruby is a little duckling who takes her time learning to swim and fly, even though her siblings have charged forth and mastered these things already. Ruby just waits and does things when she wants to... And every time she picks up a new skill, she masters it and does it better than the other kids -- she swims faster, flies higher, etc. Ruby's parents have to learn patience and to trust that their child will flourish after all, but that she doesn't need to be rushed. It's a nice lesson, especially in our current hyper-uber-competitive climate in which pre-verbal children are expected to interview for daycare as if they were seeking to get into Oxford or Yale. Ruby is a great fable written in defense of (so-called) late bloomers: Let kids be kids! The actual text has a few rough patches, but the sentiment is tops, in my book. (B)

"Home To Me, Home To You"
Written by Jennifer A. Ericsson
Illustrated by Ashley Wolff
(Little, Brown & Company, 2004)

Mom is coming back from a long business trip; back home, the stay-at-home dad and three children eagerly await her return. Contentwise, this book is nice for modern families, and it also models some good behavior (kids cleaning up after themselves, etc.) Its structure is more troublesome, though, flipping between the daughter's point of view and the mother's, as each goes through their day, anticipating their eventual reunion. I'm not a big fan of split-screen, dual narrative books -- it's hard for a reader to make them work, and I'd prefer to use my "explaining mojo" on the story itself, not the way the story is being told. Still, the emotional message rings true, and for families that are in similar situations, this book may seem like a revelation. Worth checking out. (B-)

"The Gingerbread Girl"
Written by Lisa Campbell Ernst
Illustrated by Lisa Campbell Ernst
(Dutton, 2006)

A mildly feminist retelling of the Gingerbread Man story... Here, the old couple that baked the first gingerbread runaway tries again, but this time makes a girl... She turns out to be faster and smarter than her older "brother" -- she still runs around and taunts the usual suspects, but she winds up outsmarting the fox and coming up with a nonviolent solution to the whole mess. She takes everyone home, bakes a bunch more goodies and throws a big party, and teaches the fox some manners. Although the theme is a little forced, this is a reasonably fun book. The rhymes and artwork are okay, and the nonviolent ending is a nice twist. Similar to Bob Graham's Dimity Dumpty, although not quite as innovative. (B)

"Sometimes I Feel Like A Storm Cloud"
Written by Lezlie Evans
Illustrated by Marsha Gray Carrington
(Mondo Publishing, 1999)

A young girl moves through various emotional states -- happiness, sadness, anger, pride, weariness, loneliness, excitement -- each illustrated in a two-page spread. I wasn't bowled over by this one -- I thought it was a little disjointed and inelegant -- but I suppose it's nice if you want to explore or validate a range of emotions with your kids. Worth checking out, for sure! (C+)

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