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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 "G"






Kids Books -- "G" By Author

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"The Three Little Pigs"
Adapted by Paul Galdone
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(Seabury Press, 1970)

A sturdy but rather disturbing version of this classic children's story, complete with all the scary, violent aspects. The big, bad wolf is pretty toothy and realistic, and the part where the third little pig boils him alive -- and actually eats him -- is a bit grotesque. I wouldn't read this one to my girl again (too violent), but less squeamish parents who just want to expose their kids to the classics might find this to be a good option. Still... the pig actually eats the wolf! Gross!! (C)


"Cat Goes Fiddle-I-Fee"
Adapted by Paul Galdone
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(Guild Books, 1985)

A nice retelling of this old English nursery rhyme... There are several versions of this song you can find; this is one of the nicer ones. Clean, simple artwork with some interesting details you can comment on (like what kind of food each animal gets, etc...) Not stunning, but a nice read. Kind of old-fashioned, 1970s-ish artwork. (B)


"The Three Bears"
Adapted by Paul Galdone
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(Clarion, 1972)

A good, hippie-era retelling of this classic nursery tale... In Galdone's version, Goldilocks is kind of gangly and missing one of her teeth, and rather clearly a bit of a brat. The text goes a little more into depth about why what Goldilocks does is wrong, and why the bears were so trusting that they left their door unlocked. Another nice touch is that Galdone sets up that each bear has its own individual bowl, chair and bed... Kind of eases the surprise when we see these objects appear later on in the story... This is an okay version, although Goldilocks does look a little grotesque. (B-)


"Here Come Poppy And Max"
Written by Lindsey Gardiner
Illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner
(Little, Brown & Company, 2000)

This is the start of a long series of Poppy & Max books... Poppy's a little girl, Max is her dog. Poppy also likes to imitate other animals -- penguins, ducks, giraffes, et. al. -- though in the end, Max likes her just the way she is. Overall, this book seems like a zillion other brightly-colored animal books. Maybe if I hadn't read the other zillion first, we would have enjoyed this one a bit more. As it was, it didn't really make much of an impression on either me, although after a while my daughter warmed to it. It's okay, but there are plenty of other books with stronger characters and more engaging stories. The art is pretty, though. (C+)


"Dance, Tanya"
Written by Patricia Lee Gauch
Illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa
(Philomel, 1989)

The start of the Tanya series introduces us to a little girl who loves to dance -- she imitates her big sister and follows her to ballet class, but is frustrated when her parents tell her she's still too little to go to class. In the end, though, her close study of her sister's lessons pays off -- when Tanya gives an impromtu dance recital for her family, everyone realizes that she has real talent, and in the end she gets to go to classes, too. Thus starts the Tanya saga, which delves into ballet and the pressures of performance art -- if your child is enrolled in dance classes, the level of detail in these books might be a real help; the discipline required to master the art is unsentimentally explored, as is the difference between kids who "love to dance" and those who can apply themselves to the rigors of formal instruction. For casual readers -- kids who just think dancing sounds cool -- these books may be too detailed and complex -- and even a bit discouraging. It might be worth your while to read them ahead of time, to see if you think they'll be appropriate for whatever level your child is at... This first volume is one of the nicest, though. Recommended. (B+)


"Bravo , Tanya"
Written by Patricia Lee Gauch
Illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa
(Philomel, 1992)

In this book, little Tanya is now in ballet class, but is finding it hard to reconcile her love for joyous, expressive dancing with the rigorous technical requirements of formal ballet. Her teacher scolds her, and Tanya feels inadequate until another, more understanding adult helps her find the artistic streak that lays beneath ballet technique. I imagine this conflict -- between delight and discipline -- is quite common, and if you have a child who is actually doing ballet, this is probably a fine book to help talk through the topic. However, for more general readers, this volume is a bit too technical, somewhat harsh, and kind of a downer. Worth checking out, if you're in the thick of it, but it's not as happy or as fluid a story as the other books in the Tanya series. (C+)


"Tanya And Emily In A Dance For Two"
Written by Patricia Lee Gauch
Illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa
(Philomel, 1994)

In this followup to the initial Tanya books, our heroine is older and has been taking dance lessons for a while. A new girl joins her class and Tanya is envious of her skill and elegance... The two eventually form a friendship and dance together, each getting something new and valuable from the friendship. The ballet instructor notices how well they work together and gives them a solo number in the class recital. A nice story, with exuberant, evocative dance images. Recommended. (A)


"Tanya And The Magic Wardrobe"
Written by Patricia Lee Gauch
Illustrated by Satomi Ichigawa
(Philomel, 1997)

One of the most complex and compelling of the Tanya stories... During her first trip to a real, professional ballet performance, Tanya wanders backstage and meets the wardrobe manager, an older woman who shares her love of dancing and imaginative play with Tanya. As she brings out various costumes, they play roles from "Sleeping Beauty," "Cinderella," "The Nutcracker" and other favorites, including "Copellia," the ballet Tanya came to see... The story explores the artistic impulse from a variety of perspectives, and is joyful and playful throughout (with none of the anxieties or darkness of some of the other Tanya titles...) Recommended! (A)


"Presenting Tanya, The Ugly Duckling"
Written by Patricia Lee Gauch
Illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa
(Philomel, 1999)

A new teacher, Miss Foley, casts Tanya as the lead in "The Ugly Duckling," and prepares the class for the performance. Tanya wonders why she, of all people, was picked for the part, and grapples with her insecurity as the rehearsals progress. The structure of the book is a little unwieldy -- the pages alternate between an ongoing narrative that shows the class learning their parts (and Tanya's anxieties about the performance) and wordless two-page spreads that show how the actual performance looked like on stage when the show was... Thus, we are continually flipping back and forth in time, which is a little confusing, especially for smaller readers. Still, it's a nice book, another nice addition to the "Tanya" saga. (B-)


"Tanya And The Red Shoes"
Written by Patricia Lee Gauch
Illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa
(Philomel, 2002)

One of the more negative of the Tanya books... Here, Tanya yearns to learn to dance on point, but is told she is too young for that, and will have to wait. She practices at home, but when she finally gets pointe shoes and is allowed to try them out, she discovers how painful and difficult actually dancing en pointe can be... This is one of those bummerific ballet books that might be true to life, but it's kind of a downer, and may discourage kids who are interested in taking up dance. This is one that I leave at the library, if I can get away with it. (C)


"A Tanya Treasury"
Written by Patricia Lee Gauch
Illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa
(Philomel, 2002)

This handsomely bound volume gathers three of the best Tanya books, Dance, Tanya, Tanya And Emily In A Dance For Two and Presenting Tanya, The Ugly Duckling. Often reprint collections like this shortchange readers as far as the layout and artwork, but not this one... The pages lay perfectly flat, the reproductions are true to the originals, and the books is quite easy to read. As noted above, the Ugly Duckling story is a little hard to track, but overall, this edition is a great introduction to the series and certainly worth picking up. (A)


"Stella, Queen Of The Snow"
Written by Marie-Louise Gay
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
(Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 2000)

(C+)


"Stella, Fairy Of The Forest"
Written by Marie-Louise Gay
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
(Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 2002)

Also a bit weird -- we had a hard time getting on this book's wavelength. Stella takes her little brother into the forest to look for fairies, which she says she can see, but can't quite describe. As with the Star Of The Sea, she is full of goofy, offhand answers and random misinformation... depending on how literalminded you (or your children) are, this could be a bit problematic. In the end, Stella and Sam build a playhouse out of forest ferns and when Sam says he sees a fairy, Stella tells him to make a wish... Echoing Peter Pan and the closing of the Winnie The Pooh books, Sam tells Stella he wished that they could stay there in the forest forever, in an idyllic moment. It's a very sweet ending, but the rest of the book wasn't quite as magical for me. Love the stylish artwork, but the text threw me off a bit. (C+)


"Stella, Princess Of The Sky"
Written by Marie-Louise Gay
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
(Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 2004)

(C+)


"Good Morning, Sam"
Written by Marie-Louise Gay
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
(Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 2000)

For my money, this is the best of the Stella and Sam books, with poor Stella entrusted to getting Sam up and dressed in the morning. It's a challenge: when he takes his pajama top off, Sam cries out that his head's grown too large overnight, and when he puts his sweater on, he complains that someone has turned out the lights. "Stella, help!" starts every other page, but when they finally do get everything together and start out the door, mischievous Sam gets the last laugh on his exasperated older sister. The back-and-forth banter is charming and has a pretty natural rhythm, and the artwork is nothing short of delightful, packed with clutter and detail, as well as an alternate plotline with the kid's dog. (B+)


"Good Night, Sam"
Written by Marie-Louise Gay
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
(Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 2003)

This book reprises the sleep-related hijinks of Good Morning, Sam, with Stella being pestered and aggravated by Sam's constant questioning and stalling at bedtime. It doesn't flow as well as the previous volume, though, and sidetracks into nighttime anxieties -- monsters in the closet, scary-looking shadows, etc., -- which may be a topic that some parents will want to avoid. As with all of Gay's books, the artwork is delicious, and as with the other book, the dog is gleefully playing trickster in the margins of each page. If the "Stella " series has appealed to you already, then by all means, check this one out. Parents who aren't ready to talk about night frights will want to hold off on this book, though. (B)


"Caramba"
Written by Marie-Louise Gay
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
(Groundwood/House Of Anansi Press, 2005)

A charming story of a young cat who feels embarassed because he can't fly... See, in his world, all the cats can fly, including his cousins, Bijou and Bug, who make fun of him when they find out that Caramba remains flightless. His best friend, Portia the pig, sticks by him, though, and in the end, we discover Caramba's hidden talents. A good exploration of the negative power of insecurity and self-consciousness, and its literary corrolary, the value of individuality and self-affirmation. Love the artwork (by Ms. Gay, whose stylish "Stella" series is reviewed above) and the story as well. Definitely worth checking out. (B+)


"What Are You Doing, Sam?"
Written by Marie-Louise Gay
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
(Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 2006)

(-)




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