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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 "K"

Kids Books -- "K" By Author

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"Under The Sun"
Written by Ellen Kandoian
Illustrated by Ellen Kandoian
(Dodd Mead & Co., 1987)

A mini geography lesson, in which a girl going to sleep on the East Coast of the USA asks her mom where the sun goes after it goes down. So, we track the sun (and sunsets!) across the Great Plains, the Rockies, the West Coast, Hawaii, Japan, China... and then, mysteriously, Europe is skipped altogether! Um, what's the deal? Just ran out of room? Didn't want to be too Euro-centric? Well, for what it is, this is a pretty nice book, but the omission of an entire continent (and kind of an important one, at that!) does make it a little flawed. (B-)

"The Class Artist"
Written by G. Brian Karas
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
(Greenwillow, 2001)

An entertaining story about a young boy (five or six-ish?) who discovers his aptitude for drawing and art. At first Fred feels self-conscious and insecure about sharing his artwork with the other kids at school -- "I can't draw!" he complains to his older sister, who responds by showing Fred a simple design that he easily masters, which in turn boosts his confidence. Things aren't helped, though, by one of his classmates, a persnicketty girl named Frances, who teases and tattles on Fred at every turn. Confident of his ability, but still feeling unsure of his social standing, Fred plans a grandiose project, but is afraid to ask for help when he can't figure out how to complete it. (Of course, he eventually triumphs and becomes "class artist" when the other kids are impressed by his work...) Illustrator G. Brian Karas attempts to tie in a lot of things in this book, telling a dual story about about self-confidence being balanced against pride and fear of failure, while also instilling a sense of wonder for the visual arts. On the whole, I think this is a successful book, although it probably won't work for the smallest readers... You'd have to be at least in first grade or so for the story to really sink in... (B)

"Jacob's Tree"
Written by Holly Keller
Illustrated by Holly Keller
(Greenwillow, 1999)

A delightful book about growing up featuring a little bear/boy named Jacob who is impatient to do all the things his older sister and brother can do, and slips into a funk when a new pair of overalls from his grandmother is too big for him to wear. Winter comes, and the family hibernates, and in the spring, just like Mama said, the Jacob has grown tall enough to do many of the things he wanted to do: he can climb the jungle gym with his siblings, see over the edge of the bathroom mirror, and even wear his cool, new, red overalls! Every emotional note is struck just right -- a very sweet book with a very positive tone. (A)

"Sophie's Window"
Written by Holly Keller
Illustrated by Holly Keller
(Greenwillow, 2005)

A coming-of-age story about a young pigeon named Caruso who is afraid to try flying, and a dog named Sophie who helps him overcome his fear. It's funny that the book is named after the dog, since it's not really her journey that the book is about... but, whatever. Not the strongest narrative, but clearly written with the best of intentions... Comforting for kids who are facing challenges, but a little clunky in the execution. (C)

"Buckamoo Girls"
Written by Ellen A. Kelley
Illustrated by Tom Curry
(Harry N. Abrams, 2006)

Two cows dream of being cowgirls,ropin' and ridin' and singing under the stars. The concept is funny, the tone is playful, but I wasn't wowed by the execution... The rhyming text is pretty clunky, and the artwork wasn't to my taste. Kinda weird, too, seeing two cows riding on horseback, chasing down steers at a rodeo -- very Planet Of The Apes-y... At least they didn't serve beef stew at the chuck wagon! Anyway, this one didn't do much for me, although we did enjoy the bovine parody version of the song "Buffalo Girls" at the end of the book. (C-)

"The Island Of The Skog"
Written by Steven Kellogg
Illustrated by Steven Kellogg
(Dial Books, 1973)

A spunky group of mice, who have sort of an "Our Gang", can-do spirit, decide to leave the cat-filled big city and set sail for the high seas, where they can be free from predators. Sailing on an antique, miniature galleon, they come to a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, which at first seems uninhabited, but proves to be home to the fearsome Skog...!! One of the mice, a bossy boy named Bouncer, keeps taking charge and telling others what to do, and he decides that they should blast the beach with the ship's cannons, to preemptively teach the Skog not to mess with the mousies. There's a little bit more senseless violence until at last they discover that the Skog is only a frightened little vole, and decide that they can coexist with the Skog after all. Although the story concludes with a message of tolerance and communication, it takes a while to get there, and although the point of the book is to repudiate violence, it still has quite a bit of it within its pages. The finely-detailed artwork (Kellogg's signature style) is delightful, but the shoot-'em-up aspects of the plot, along with the gender stereotyping (of boys recklessly taking charge, and girls deferring to their judgement, even when they think they're wrong...) are a bit dated. This looks like it might be a sequel to an earlier book starring the same mice; if it isn't, then the book certainly begins a bit abruptly. Didn't really ring my bells, which is a shame, since the artwork is so nice. (C+)

"There's NO Such Thing As A Dragon"
Written by Jack Kent
Illustrated by Jack Kent
(Golden Books, 1975)

A cute book about a young boy who wakes up with a little dragon at the foot of his bed... His mom tells him there's no such thing as dragons, so he dutifully ignores the little lizard at breakfast, even though the dragon keep eating al his pancakes and starts to grow ever larger. Eventually the mild-mannered dragon grows so large he fills the entire house and even Mom has to admit there are such things as dragons. Seems he big, scaly fellow just wanted attention: once Billy pats him on the head, the dragon starts to shrink and become a more manageable pet. It's a funny, simple, engaging story, with cartoonish, Syd Hoff-ian artwork... I wish I had a dragon like that! (A)

"The Tiger Who Came To Tea"
Written by Judith Kerr
Illustrated by Judith Kerr
(Harper Collins, 1968)

An odd, absurd, and distinctly British story about a tiger who comes to tea and eats everything in the house... He even laps up all the water in the taps, so that no one can take a bath! That's all very well and fine as far as little Sophie is concerned; she and her mother play hosts to the giant, smiling tiger and buy a tin of tiger food, hoping for him to return. Although the artwork is a bit stiff, small children will love the sight of the giant tiger, voraciously eating everything in reach, while Sophie follows him around gazing adoringly, or reaching out to pat his tail. The storytelling and art may be a little dated, but this book still has some magic. (B)

"The Other Goose"
Written by Judith Kerr
Illustrated by Judith Kerr
(Harper Collins, 2001)

A weird book about a lonesome goose who lives in the town pond, but who is convinced that the reflection he sees in the snooty banker's car is actually another goose, a friend who come to relieve his loneliness someday. It isn't until the goose foils a bank robbery -- on Christmas Day, no less -- that the banker decides to be nice to him, and that the townspeople listen to the little girl who knew all along that the goose needed a companion.... The plot is convoluted, and feels forced. It's okay, I suppose, but I wouldn't really recommend this one. (C-)

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