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

Kids Books -- "G" By Author

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Bob Graham -- see author profile

"Be Nice To Spiders"
Written by Margaret Bloy Graham
Illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
(Harper Collins, 1967)

An orphaned spider named Helen finds her calling in life clearing out the flies from the local zoo. After she moves in and builds webs in all the cages, she gives much-needed relief to all the previously pestered animals. The human zookeepers aren't quite as clued in, though, and when the mayor announces that he will soon visit the zoo, the appearance-obsessed staff goes on the warpath against poor Helen and her cobwebs. After the flies come back and the animals are once again totally miserable, the keepers realize their mistake and welcome Helen back as a hero. A great story, both in its tone (goofy, amicably early-'60sish anti-authoritarianism) and in its message of compassion for animals and respect for unforseen ecological outcomes. Fun book! (A)

"Riley And Rose In The Picture"
Written by Susanna Gretz
Illustrated by Susanna Gretz
(Candlewick, 2005)

Riley, a dog, and Rose, a cat, are best friends, but their friendship hits a rough patch one rainy day when they do an art project together and discover that they think about things differently. Riley is literal-minded and insists that he is drawing circles and triangles while Rose is more imaginative -- she sees tents and ladybugs and flowers. But when they start talking about what they're making, the discussion briefly turns into a shouting match. But when they go "into" their pictures, they have an adventure that erases their differences and brings the fun back into the equation. This is a nice book -- I'd say it's more about conflict resolution that creativity and art, but really it works both ways. (It's worth mentioning that this is also very similar to Barbara Baker's Digby And Kate series... If you like Riley and Rose, you'll probably enjoy their predecessors, too!) (B-)

"The Very Smart Pea And The Princess-To-Be"
Written by Mini Grey
Illustrated by Mini Grey
(Random House, 2003)

Witness if you will, the story of the Princess and the Pea, retold from the perspective of the pea itself. The goofy conceptual hook is a little abstract, perhaps, for smaller kids to get into, but the book does have a loopy charm. Mainly it's due to the artwork, with is graphically strong and distinctive -- the text itself has its clunky moments and inconsistencies (the pea tells us that it was planted less than a year ago, but also that the Prince searched for a year to find the right bride... Uh, which is it?) Also, it's hard to overcome the inherent sexism of the original story, although this version is meant to be a feminist reworking, with a dewy-eyed, bookish Prince hooking up with a rugged, hands-on gardener, rather than a mail-order Princess... Anyway, this book was okay, although it didn't totally wow us. (B)

"Wake Up, Dad!"
Written by Sally Grimes
Illustrated by Siobhan Dodds
(Doubleday, 1988)

This is a hilarious book... written more for parents, perhaps, than for kids... But a child with the right sense of humor will enjoy is as well... Here's the story: a little girl bounds into her parent's bedroom at 6:30am and chatters away, trying to wake her oh-so-tired dad up. She opens the curtains, jumps on the bed, lets the cat in, and wonders aloud if that big spider on the floor is going to make a nest in Daddy's shoes... The details -- particularly the pained looks on the beleagured parents -- are quite amusing, and the infectious, bubbly personality of the irrepresible little girl comes through loud and clear. You can't help loving her, even if you feel sorry for the sleepy parents, too... This book rings true and never hits a false note. (B+)

"The Shoemaker And The Elves"
Written by The Brothers Grimm
Adapted by Adrienne Adams
Illustrated by Adrienne Adams
(Scribner & Sons, 1960)

One of the very few fairy tales that isn't completely disturbing on some level... In fact, there's a happy ending and nothing bad happens to anyone! A shoemaker who has fallen on hard times gets a helping hand from mysterious agents -- a trio of elves who sneak into his shop every night and turn what little leather he has left into beautiful shoes that customers buy for top dollar. The cobbler's fortunes improve, and he becomes wealthy and happy, and when he finally discovers who his benefactors are, he thanks them by making special miniature outfits to wear, and they then go off to enjoy themselves. This is a fine adaptation by Adrienne Adams -- the artwork is old-fashioned but appealing and the story is still magical and mysterious, and holds up well over time. Recommended! (B+)

"The Sorcerer's Apprentice"
Written by Sally Grindley
Illustrated by Thomas Taylor
(Penguin/Phyllis Fogelman Books, 2001)

A hardy, fresh-faced adaptation of the classic fairytale best known to countless millions from the Disney film, Fantasia. Instead of Mickey Mouse, though, this version features a real boy, and a notably fuzzier-edged magician, each with a strong whiff of Harry Potter and Dumbledore about them. The plotline follows pretty much the same course as the film version, though we get more detailed glimpses of all the arcane doodads in the sorcerer's laboratory (skulls, potions, ancient texts, etc.) in a way that is sure to appeal to the Potter generation... (B)

"No Trouble At All"
Written by Sally Grindley
Illustrated by Elanor Taylor
(Bloomsbury Books, 2002)

A loveable, absent-minded grandfather bear has his two grandcubs over for the night, but while he thinks they are peacefully off to sleep, they are actually padding about upstairs (and then outside), having pillowfights and getting into the pantry. Gramps never catches on, all the while affably commenting to his cat what good little children these two are... I'm not wild about this series, but I suppose the books are harmless enough. Followed in '04 by A Little Bit Of Trouble, which follows pretty much the same theme. (B)

"A Little Bit Of Trouble"
Written by Sally Grindley
Illustrated by Elanor Taylor
(Bloomsbury Books, 2004)

The sequel to Grindley's No Trouble At All. A loveable, absent-minded grandfather bear takes his two grandcubs (and their kitten!) out for a walk and a picnic lunch in the country. Chaos breaks out all around him, largely due the accidental misbehavior of the cubs, but he is seldom aware of what's going on, and tends to blame himself for the mishaps. When the cubs forget to close the gate to a pasture, a giant bull comes out and charges through their picnic... It turns out, though, that the bull isn't being mean: he just wanted to get into the field where his wife and calves are. Although you could get persnicketty and say that this book makes fun of senility, actually the message is slightly different: the old bear blames himself when things go wrong, but really it's never his fault. More about hijinks than actual trouble, this is a sweet book with a gentle tone... Nice reading, particularly for kids who pay attention to artwork and visual details, although something still hits me a little wrong about these books. (B)

"Tangerines And Tea -- My Grandparents And Me"
Written by Ona Grines
Illustrated by Yumi Heo
(Harry N. Abrams, 2005)

An offbeat, kooky alphabet book -- the letters aren't placed in the foreground here, but rather each page features a short sentence with three or so words starting with that letter... "A nap at noon in a noisy room... The perfect friend for playing pretend..." Artist Yumi Heo's graphics include some of her more restrained, relatively conventional work... This one didn't wow my little girl, but older kids might enjoy it more. It's a new approach, for sure, and if that's what you're looking for, this is a nice, artsy option. (C+)

"Now, Soon, Later"
Written by Lisa Grunwald
Illustrated by Jane Johnson
(Greenwillow, 1996)

Does your kid have an occasional bout of impatience from time to time? Well, this is a swell little book that introduces the concept of "later," casting it in a very positive light, by showing a little girl passing through the day, going from one enjoyable activity to the next: waking up, playing in the park, going back home, etc. Each page is a triptych of panels, showing her moving from what is happening now to what will happen later in the day. The realistic artwork is pleasant and clear, as is the message of patience and progress. Recommended! (B+)

"Over On The Farm: A Counting Picture Book Rhyme"
Written by Christopher Gunson
Illustrated by Christopher Gunson
(Scholastic Press, 1995)

A nice barnyard counting book -- cats stretch, sheep leap, foxes rustle, birds flap, frogs splash -- all with bright, colorful artwork and good rhyming text that scans well (on all the number-related pages except the mysteriously clunky #7, where Londoner Gunson tries to rhyme "the seven" with "hut old and wooden..." Maybe it's a British thing...). An okay book, though it didn't totally wow me. (B)

"My Dolly"
Written by Woody Guthrie
Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
(Candlewick, 2001)

A lively, rambunctious adaptation of a children's song written by folk musician Woody Guthrie. I liked this book, although I susprect it's not the kind of thing that would work for everyone. The artwork is a bit chaotic -- purposefully, I think, to evoke a sense of playfulness and abandon on the part of the reader/singers -- but it might be hard for some folks to tap into it, and, more importantly, for little kids to really fix on what's happening from page to page. Still, I liked it -- it was fun to sing this one aloud! (B+)

"Gaspard And Lisa's Rainy Day"
Written by Anne Gutman
Illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
(Hachette Livre/Alfred A. Knopf, 2001)

The "Misadventures Of Gaspard And Lisa" books are fun and funny, but perhaps best kept away from the littlest readers, as they focus on destructive behavior -- some of it unintentional, some of it perhaps not -- on the part of these two cute, clueless little moppets. With exceptional economy and wit, author Anne Gutman captures the blithe self-centeredness of childhood -- Lisa and Gaspard never see themselves as being in the wrong, but they do know when they're about to get into trouble. Artist Georg Hallensleben's splashy, impressionistic style is always a delight, and here he adds an air of adventure and forward momentum: we, the readers, are as much caught up in the moment as the characters are. In this early volume, Lisa and Gaspard are stuck inside for days on end at grandma's house and bored out of their minds. As a result, they wreak havoc and are repeatedly reprimanded. The pair make a mess in the kitchen, trash a bedroom and tear apart a framed picture while trying to "play with a puzzle." The emotional tone of their innocent inner dialogue rings true, and the art is a perfect compliment -- the story's funny, but if your kid doesn't do this kind of stuff already, you might want to wait for a while before checking this book out. No need to give 'em any ideas. (B)

"Gaspard On Vacation"
Written by Anne Gutman
Illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
(Hachette Jeunesse/Alfred A. Knopf, 2001)

Meet Gaspard, a little black dog-boy who lives in France and has a tendency to get into trouble. Gaspard's family goes to Venice, and the mischievous, willful little pup gets bored with all the museums and jumps into a kayak, disappearing all day long on the city's canals. He causes a boat wreck, then is found by the police and reunited with his worried family. This is one of the least skillful or subtle books in this series, and made me start to think, hey, maybe these aren't just strong-willed, "normal" kids after all; maybe Gaspard is just a sociopath. I didn't find this one all that entertaining. (C-)

"Lisa's Baby Sister"
Written by Anne Gutman
Illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
(Hachette Jeunesse/Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)

Uh-oh. Lisa, the queen of chaos, with a baby sister? Look out! With a new sibling on the way, Lisa is unhappy and jealous, and vows never to speak to it or play with it after it's born. She changes her mind, though, once she gets to spend time with the baby, and decides it would make a pretty cool toy. This book is an honest (and genuinely funny) exploration of some deep negative emotions, and may be of use to parents whose kids are, indeed, upset by having to share the nest with a new sibling. If, however, your child seems okay with the whole situation, don't expose them to this story -- it may raise issues and feelings that would be otherwise best left well enough alone. (These are some pretty funny sequences in here, though, that adults may get a kick out of; great artwork, too. But adults may get more out of this than little kids...) (C)

"Lisa's Airplane Trip"
Written by Anne Gutman
Illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
(Hachette Jeunesse/Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)

Lisa misbehaves (but not too badly) on a trans-oceanic flight from Paris to New York... Considering that she was flying alone, she actually wasn't that bad at all! The mishaps (she stands on her food tray in order to see the in-flight movie) are unfortunate, but compared to other books in this series, pretty negligible... That aside, this book is a nice, friendly introduction to the idea of plane travel, and one you might like to use in preparation for an upcoming trip. As ever, Hallensleben's artwork is delightful, pulling you in instantaneously while imparting a sense of playfulness and delight. Recommended. (B)

"Lisa In New York"
Written by Anne Gutman
Illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
(Hachette Jeunesse/Alfred A. Knopf, 2001)

The continuation of Lisa's Airplane Trip, in which the adorable-yet-vexing little French wabbit-girl runs amok in the Big Apple. She sees the sights, gets lost for a while, then is retrieved by her uncle, who she has come to visit. Of the books in the series, this one seemed to have the least purpose -- there was no real bite to it (for parents of a bold disposition) and it's another showcase for misbehavior (ruling it out for the more nervous caretakers...) I suppose if you've read the Airplane Trip trip book, you may want to follow up and she what Lisa does when she gets there... But I find life continues along just fine without us ever finding out the details. (C)

Written by Ginger Fogelsong Guy
Illustrated by Rene King Moreno
(Greenwillow, 1996)

A nice, cheerful bilingual counting book... Three children go down to the local store to buy things to put inside a birthday pinata... They take uno canasta -- one basket -- and fill it with dos trompetas, tres animalitos... etc. And then they take their stuff home, build a cool pinata, and have one heckuva fun fiesta. The artwork is vivid, detailed and warm, and the story is simple and cheerful... Plus, it's effective: after reading this story once, my kid was able to count to ten in Spanish, right away. Success! (B+)

"My School - Mi Escuela"
Written by Ginger Foglesong Guy
Illustrated by Vivi Escriva
(Harper Collins, 2006)

This is a very simple Spanish-English primer, centered around some children's day in school. There's no plot to speak of, and it introduces only about a dozen words, but the artwork may hold your attention and the words they want to teach are shown clear as a bell. This wouldn't be my first choice as an introductory Spanish picturebook, but it's okay. (B-)

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