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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 second page of books written by authors under the letter "G"

Kids Books -- "G" By Author

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"Inside Mouse/Outside Mouse"
Written by Lindsay Barrett George
Illustrated by Lindsay Barrett George
(Greenwillow, 2004)

Pretty pictures, but a confusing narrative. Two mice, one that lives inside a house and one that lives in a tree, move through parallel activities before meeting nose-to-nose at a windowpane. The pictures are beautiful, finely rendered and full of captivating little details, but it's hard to track what's going on from page to page, since you have to make mental leaps back and forth from one story to the next. This confusion might have been eased if the text were more explicit, ie, if they had said, "now the inside mouse is..." and "now the outside mouse is..." or something like that. In general, I'm not a big fan of this kind of split-narrative book: you have to add a lot extra effort as the reader to make it work, and even then it's a little awkward, since you're basically making it up as you go along. This is one of the better books of its kind, but it's still too clunky for me.

Written by Kristine O'Connell George
Illustrated by Maggie Smith
(Clarion Books, 2001)

Cute story about a toddler/infant who gets a new book as a present and carries it around all day long, and even takes it to bed for naptime. Bright, colorful, cartoonish artwork, and a sweet, pro-book propaganda message. Recommended, although the text is very basic and the shelf life might not be that long, once your kid gets reading. (B)

"Sleep Tight, Ginger Kitten"
Written by Adele Geras
Illustrated by Catherine Walters
(Penguin/Dutton, 2001)

A sweet story about a little orange tabby cat who prowls about the garden and house looking for a good place to take a nap. There's always something a little wrong with every place he tries -- door open on him, insects distract him, etc. finally he finds the perfect spot: a nice, warm lap. Warm, well-studied illustrations and a cute, but not-too-cloying narrative. Cat lovers will enjoy this book a lot. (B)

"Time For Ballet"
Written by Adele Geras
Illustrated by Shelagh McNichols
(Penguin-Dial Books, 2004)

A young girl name Tilly goes to her last ballet lesson before the big class performance that all the parents and grandparents come to see... In the show, she dances dressed as a cat, and her dad praises her afterwards, saying he thought she was a real kitty cat... This book fills much the same need as Patricia Lee Gauch's Tanya series, but it's a little less severe and a little more celebratory. If you just want to encourage your child's interest in dancing, this is a fine, fun volume to read. Uncomplicated and joyful, this is a pretty nice book. Shows a boy dancing, too, if that helps. (A)

"The Great Big Fire Engine Book"
Written by Tibor Gergely (?)
Illustrated by Tibor Gergely
(Random House/Golden Books, 1950)

A bright, boldly colorful classic aimed at all kids for whom the sight (and sound) of fire enfgines is pure catnip. The artwork is round, expressive and highly stylized, the text is declarative and simple; each keeps the action going. The one thing that's odd about this book is that the pictures are framed in a strange way -- although we understand what is going on, we rarely see the whole picture (i.e., a clear, full view of a building on fire with the fire trucks parked in front. Instead, the action is framed much closer, in an almost cinematic, handheld camera kind of way. Regardless, it's a fun book, ideal for the hook-and-ladder set. (B)

"I've Got An Elephant"
Written by Anne Ginkel
Illustrated by Janie Bynum
(Peachtree, 2006)

A goofy counting book about a girl who has an elephant as a playmate, but doesn't want to take it out with her when she goes to class or on errands. So the elephants (one more each time) invite another elephant to play with them. When the pachyderm herd rises to ten in number, the girl abruptly stops the fun, yelling "Enough!" and takes the whole troop to the local zoo. Ouch! But if you think that's harsh, after all the fun times shared at the mall and movies and ballet class, then you'll really be puzzled when she forsakes the elephants altogether and starts playing with monkeys. Weird ending -- she's not very loyal to her friends, is she? -- but kind of fun up until then. A creative, playful counting book, although we had trouble with the end each time we read it. (B-)

"It's Fall!" (Millbrook Press, 2001)
"It's Winter!" (Millbrook Press, 2002)
"It's Spring!" (Millbrook Press, 2002)
"It's Summer!" (Millbrook Press, 2003)
Written by Linda Glaser
Illustrated by Susan Swan

The seasons are celebrated in this exuberant quartet of books... Graphically striking cut-paper artwork sets them apart.. The style might not be for everyone, but I like it. Like many let's-appreciate-nature books, this one gets a little bogged down in details at time, but for those of us with scientific and green-loving personalities, this is a fine series. (A)

"Central Park Serenade"
Written by Laura Godwin
Illustrated by Barry Root
(Joanna Cotler, 2002)

A beautiful tone poem showing a child's day in Central Park. When I first picked this up, I thought, Oh, the appeal will probably be too limited: if you don't live in New York City, why would you care? But the universality of the Central Park experience, along with the lovely, measured craftsmanship, make this a wonderful read. The text and artwork intertwine and complement each other, although the pictures provide a solid second layer of the story... For a day-in-the-park book, this one's hard to beat. Also works nicely as a "daddy book," since it's Pop who takes the boys to sail their boats on a languid summer day. (A)

"My Friends"
Written by Taro Gomi
Illustrated by Taro Gomi
(Chronicle Books, 1990)


"Squiggles -- A Really Giant Drawing And Painting Book"
Written by Taro Gomi
Illustrated by Taro Gomi
(Chronicle Books, 2007)

Awesome! The third in a series (following Doodles and Scribbles) by the puckish Japanese illustrator Taro Gomi, this is a hip, modern coloring book that breaks the fourth wall, or at least encourages you to splatter a little paint on it and maybe the other three as well. Breaking away from the static, old-fashioned, draw-inside-the-lines, oh-look-it's-a-puppy tradition, Gomi crafts a coloring book that talks to the reader in confidential whispers, plays with them, winks at them and invites them in on the jokes. Continually inventive and improvisational, Squiggles nudges would-be colorists to do some of the heavy lifting as well, and create the pictures as they go along -- the approach is expansive and subtle, and infused with a big dose of humor. A section on the ocean spans nearly twenty pages, with simple, thick-lined illustrations of waves and the occasional island, with a lot of empty water down below, accompanied (on only a few pages) by gentle creative suggestions such as, "start with lots of fish" and "what's in the net?"; a series of pictures about food shows only empty plates and bowls: it's up to the reader to decide what's on the menu. Likewise, Gomi provides a series of heads without facial features -- you fill 'em in -- and a business district where all the signs are blank: it's up to the book's new owner to decide what the stores will sell. By providing the simplest of frames, Gomi opens up wide horizons; this edition also features hefty, durable paper that's thick enough to paint on as well as doodle. This series just gets better and better: let's hope the books keep on coming! (A)

"Goldilocks And The Three Bears"
Written by Valeri Gorbachev
Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
(North-South Books, 2001)

A fairly straightforward retelling of this classic old fairy tale... The text doesn't vary much from what you're already familar with, although in a subtle way, it's told more from the bear family's point of view, and the bear's outside interests are shown as well (Papa Bear plays the violin, for example...) The artwork is what makes this book notable -- it's fun and friendly; you might also search out some of Gorbachev's other books, or ones where he only worked as the illustrator. (A)

"Chicken Chickens"
Written by Valeri Gorbachev
Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
(North-South, 2001)

Two little chickens go to the playground for the first time, and are too timid to play any of the games -- they're afraid to fall off the swings, etc.... Finally, some other little kids convince them to go down the slide, and once they master their fear, they do it all by themselves and have a great time. I'm a little leary of the use of the word "chicken" as a pejorative -- I'm still trying to keep my kid away from the idea of being mean and putting other people down with insults -- so that part is a little bit of a drag. Not much, though: it's not that hard to read around, and the story's overall message, of self-confidence, boldness and empowerment, comes through loud and clear. It's a nice book for toddlers to read; the artwork is good, too. (B)

"Chicken Chickens Go To School"
Written by Valeri Gorbachev
Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
(North-South, 2003)

I haven't read this sequel yet, but I'll let you know when I do.... (-)

"Whose Hat Is It?"
Written by Valeri Gorbachev
Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
(Harper Collins, 2004)

There's not much to this book: a big wind blows all the animals' hats off, and after a big pink chapeau goes unclaimed, a turtle picks it up and tries to find out who it belongs to. He asks a rabbit, a beaver, a mouse... no one claims it, until a big elephant comes along and says it's hers. (Oops! I gave away the ending!!) The artwork is nice, but the story is pretty flat. (C)

"The Big Trip"
Written by Valeri Gorbachev
Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
(Philomel, 2004)

The promise of the title is undercut by the story... Map in hand, a young pig is all excited about taking a big trip, but his friend, a super-negative downer of a goat, tells him what would be wrong with each and every method of travel the pig can think of: cars break down, planes crash, boats sink, trains get stuck in tunnels. The pig cheerfully keeps coming up with alternatives, but the goat shoots each one down, until the pig finally gives up and cancels his plans. Then the goat changes tacks and asks the pig if he can come along on the journey. I suppose this big switcheroo is meant to be an uplifting, hooray-for-friends ending, but it does little to counterbalance the morose, negative tone of the book. If you want to raise a pessimist, buy ten copies of this book, and stash them all around the house. Otherwise, skip it. (C-)

"Big Little Elephant"
Written by Valeri Gorbachev
Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
(Harcourt, 2005)

Another overly-negative Gorbachev outing... Little Elephant is a socially challenged kid who wants to make friends, but feels too clumsy and large (he is an elephant, after all...) Although he can't skip rope or play hopscotch (the little animals are afraid he'll crush them), he later finds out that there are "big" things he can do that are fun for the other kids... But on the way, he frets and worries so much -- once again, Gorbachev's way of addressing childhood troubles is somewhat joyless and anxiety-provoking. If your kid was going through these issues, I think this book would reinforce the negative self-perceptions and inner doubts more than it would build up any positive feelings. Kind of a upsetting emotional tone to the narrative. Nice artwork, though. (C-)

"Heron & Turtle"
Written by Valeri Gorbachev
Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
(Penguin/Philomel, 2006)

Three simple stories about friendship and the little compromises and accommodations it can entail. Two neighbors who are very different -- a small, slow turtle and a tall, fast heron -- share a love of nature and each other's company. It's hard taking walks together (because of their different paces) but easy to enjoy passing the time together. Although still slightly didactic, this has a much lighter touch than Gorbachev's other recent work, which can be a little too focussed on anxieties and difficulty... This is more of a feelgood book, and more enjoyable as a result. Worth checking out. (Mildly weird, though, that the gender is given for the (male) turtle, but not for the dress-wearing heron... Maybe they wanted to de-emphasize the romantic nature of their friendship? Oh, well. I'm probably just nitpicking...) (B)

"Sam's Little Sister"
Written by Yves Got
Illustrated by Yves Got
(Chronicle Books, 2001)

A sweet book featuring a little bunny named Sam, and his little sister Sophie, who he plays (and occasionally clashes) with, although they always make up in the end. Very easy text with simple, appealing, cartoonish pictures that kids will love, and a funny, but not too cutesy, tone. Positive, idealistic modeling for good sibling relations. (B+)

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