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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 "I"

Kids Books -- "I" By Author

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"The First Bear In Africa!"
Written by Satomi Ichikawa
Illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa
(Philomel, 2001)

This book has a brisk, involving narrative that will draw small kids in, although I do feel a little queasy about the cultural politics, which have more than a slight whiff of colonialism about them... The story is simple -- the narrator is a young boy named Meto who lives on the African savannah, in a small goat-herding village. One day some tourists come by on safari, take a bunch of snapshots and then leave. Meto meets a little girl who is carrying a teddy bear, which piques his curiousity, since he has never seen such an animal and doesn't know what it is called. When the safari packs up and leaves, the bear gets left behind and Meto dashes across the plains, racing to catch up to the little girl before her plane leaves and her bear is forever lost. Along the way he has a series of Jungle Book-ish encounters with various animals (lions, elephants, hippos, giraffes) before making it to the plane where a grateful little girl gives him a hug and a piece of ribbon as thanks. The thing that troubles me about this book is the aptness with which it mirrors the post-colonial relationship of the developed world to Africa: wealthy outsiders come, have their fun and leave when they want to, doing little to improve the lives of the people they gawk at and take pictures of... On top of which, the little boy has to go to great lengths to make the little girl (possibly Asian, possibly European) happy... and god forbid that he should be able to keep or have a fancy, manufactured product like a teddy bear! No, those kids living in mud huts are so happy if you just give them a bit a ribbon, or some shiny beads or something like that. Oh, alright, maybe I'm just being a crabby, too-serious, Berkeley-based killjoy, but that was my initial reaction to this book, and it wasn't eased much by repeat readings. Other than that, it's kind of nice -- cool artwork and an okay text.
(For crankypants Berkeley people: (C)
(For less persnicketty readers: (B)

"Swan Lake"
Written by Rachel Isadora
Illustrated by Rachel Isadora
(G. P. Putnam, 1991)

An excellent adaptation of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet... Isadora pares the story down to its bare essentials and presents it amid gorgeous, expressive watercolors that lend a dreamlike quality to the work. Her use of light and shadow is particularly evocative -- all in all, this book is a real class act. The perfect companion to a trip to the ballet, or simply to inspire a budding dancer's imagination. Highly recommended! (A)

"123 POP!"
Written by Rachel Isadora
Illustrated by Rachel Isadora
(Viking, 1999)

This number book is a change of pace for the normally-realistic Rachel Isadora, with brightly colored, explosive artwork that draws on the 1960s-'70s pop-art of Andy Warhol, Ray Lichtenstein and Peter Max. Superheros caper amid cheerful ben-day dot patterns and sound-effect BANGS. This goes from one to a million, with the stars winking down from the limitless night sky of the last page. My kid wasn't really that into this book, but I thought it looked neat. There's also a companion book called ABC Pop!, but I haven't read it yet. (B)

"Peekaboo Morning"
Written by Rachel Isadora
Illustrated by Rachel Isadora
(G. P. Putnam & Sons, 2002)

A cute, playful book about a little toddler who wakes up and plays peekaboo with everyone in her family -- mommy, daddy, grandparents and the dog, and then with a little friend, and finally with you, the reader. The writing level is very basic, so this book might have a relatively short shelf-life, but if you come across it at the right time, it can be a delight. Also nice for folks who are looking for books that reflect cultural diversity, showing an African-American girl and her family in a neutral, cheery setting. Recommended. (B)

"On Your Toes: A Ballet ABC"
Written by Rachel Isadora
Illustrated by Rachel Isadora
(Greenwillow, 2003)

A former dancer who's authored several plot-driven dance books, Isadora turns here to doing an alphabet book. The plates are colorful and large, but you kind of have to already be immersed in dance lingo to get the context for most of these ideas. Like many ballet-oriented picturebooks, this has to hit its readers at the right time: old enough to be doing dance at a high enough level to appreciate the concepts, but young enough to still like picturebooks. It's a very pretty-looking book, though! (B-)

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