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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 "O"






Kids Books -- "O" By Author

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"Where Is Little Reynard?"
Written by Joyce Carol Oates
Illustrated by Mark Graham
(Ecco Press, 2003)

Little Reynard is a shy little kitten, the runt of the litter and the only orange kitten among the lot. His brothers and sisters tease him and won't let him play with them, and they even nudge him aside from the food bowl. Reynard is too timid to stick up for himself, but his owner, a girl named Lily, protects him and makes sure he gets his fair share of food. One day, when the window is left open, Reynard is lured out into the snowy forest by a pair of fox cubs, who accept Reynard as one of their own (because his orange coat looks like theirs) and he has a great time playing with them in the woods. When he comes back home, Reynard has newfound confidence -- his siblings might not be nice to him, but his friends were -- and becomes a more bounciful, happy cat. In literal terms, there are a few elements that don't ring true -- mostly that in real life the fox family would eat the cat, not play with it -- but as a narrative and a metaphor, this certainly rings true emotionally. Mark Graham's artwork is delicious and evocative, and the story is a nice mix of dark emotions and personal redemption. A favorite in our household. (B+)


"The Baby Goes Beep"
Written by Rebecca O'Connell
Illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
(Roaring Brook, 2003)

A jaunty celebration of onomatopoeia, this tracks a happy baby through his day, going beep-beep-beep in the car (and on his daddy's nose), yum-yum-yum at dinner, splash-splash in the bath, etc. No rocket science involved here, but this features a fun, lively text, accompanied by bright, cheerful artwork. My kid liked this book every time we read it; I suspect yours will as well.
(B)


"17 Things I'm Not Allowed To Do Anymore"
Written by Jenny Offill
Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
(Schwartz & Wade, 2007)

A charming first-person narrative of semi-innocent misbehavior, as a young girl (perhaps about six or seven years old) tells of all the mischievous things she's done (recently) and is no longer allowed to do... Some are harmless enough, like walking to school backwards (and back home, backwards, as well...), while others, particularly those that involve torturing her little brother with staples and glue, show a teensy bit more malice. For older kids with open-minded parents, this book could be a real delight -- this cheerful young lady would have a real blast hanging out with Ramona and Beezus -- but with younger readers, you might want to file this away under, "Why give them any ideas?" I really enjoyed the artwork, which deftly captured both detail and emotion... Every page was genuinely funny, although admittedly in the funny-because-it's-painfully-true category... Definitely worth checking out! (B+)


"My Two Grandmothers"
Written by Effin Older
Illustrated by Nancy Hayashi
(Harcourt, 2000)

This book focuses on multiculturalism between Jewish and Christian families... A young girl named Lily spends time with two sets of grandparents, her moxie-ful, effusive urban Bubbe Silver, and her more WASP-ish Grammy Lane, who has a farmhouse and likes to go golfing. She enjoys Christmas and Hannukah, as well as other private family rituals, but one day Lily becomes sad that the grandparents don't get to share their family traditions. So, Lily invites everyone together for a new event, the "grandmother's party," where they all do the same stuff together... The plot is a bit forced and stereotype-laden, but the book may ring true for many mixed families (although moreso for the parents than for the children, I suspect...) Worth checking out. (C+)


"Footwork: The Story Of Fred And Adele Astaire"
Written by Roxane Orgill
Illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
(Candlewick, 2007)

Hollywood icon Fred Astaire was, arguably, the most famous dancer in the world, projected into tens of millions of minds over the decades, in film, in song, on video, over the radio and onstage. It's ironic, then, that when he started his career, as the junior dance partner to his older sister Adele, everyone assumed she was the one that destiny had big plans for... This elegantly crafted picturebook tells the tale of the Astaire siblings, who were headliners on the professional vaudeville circuit, and later on Broadway for over two decades, from 1906 to 1932. There's a lot of train travel involved, and a lot of Fred hanging around backstage, studying every nuance and trick of the trade among the diverse performers with whom they shared the stage. As the book explains, the Astaires started their act in a time before radio, TV or talking pictures, and conquering vaudeville placed them at the pinnacle of American popular culture. It was only when Adele announced her retirement -- so that she could marry -- that Fred turned his sights towards a film career, and hopped yet another train, this time to Hollywood, where he became the global star we know and love today. This is a great book for older children who love dance, or who appreciate history and the charm of bygone days... It's also a good introduction to or compliment to all those great old Fred Astaire films -- like Astaire himself, this one's a real class act. (B+)


"Animal Orchestra"
Written by Ilo Orleans
Illustrated by Tibor Gergely
(Golden Books, 1958)

This one is a longtime favorite, one of those odd little books from a few decades ago. I bought it because it celebrates music, showing an entire orchestra populated with animals such as tuba-tooting elephants and trombone-wiggling monkeys... The text scans well (though I made a few minor adjustments over the course of multiple readings, and a few of the instruments are misidentified (most egregiously, a bagpipe is called a fife...) But for the most part, this is a book we love. The meter of the rhyme is lively and fun, it instills an interest in music and performing arts, and there are dozens of animals to point out and talk about, and the artwork is captivating as well. Recommended! (Please note our well-chewed board book copy...)
(A-)


"Miss Mouse's Day"
Written by Jan Ormerod
Illustrated by Jan Ormerod
(Harper Collins, 2001)

A picture-perfect glimpse into playtime with a lively little toddler and her favorite doll, a large stuffed mousie that joins her in all the day's adventures. They have breakfast, do a little art, play dress-up, smear on some make-up and go outside and get good and dirty... and the it's off to bed. The art's a teeny bit on the busy side, but basically this book captures the joyful interior world of a happy, imaginative child, hard at play with her toys and the world around them. Very cute, and it rings really true. (B)


"Miss Mouse Takes Off"
Written by Jan Ormerod
Illustrated by Jan Ormerod
(Harper Collins, 2001)

This time around, Miss Mouse and her little girl fly on a plane together... The mousie has a few close calls, but mostly they have a fun time together. Nice book to help prepare a small child for plane travel. (B)


"Clap Hands"
"Tickle, Tickle"
"All Fall Down"
"Say Goodnight"
Written by Helen Oxenbury
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
(Little Brown, 1987)

I absolutely loathe this four-book series, but little babies love it, and my wife says I am forbidden to say bad things about these medium-sized board books. She calls them "baby crack," and says they're great. Personally, I can't stand reading them -- they're just so brainless and ooey-gooey, each one built around four two-page spreads that illustrate a mind-numbingly simple, four-line poem. For example, the entire text to Tickle, Tickle reads, "Squelch, squelch, in the mud/splish, splash, scrub-a-dub/gently, gently brush your hair/tickle, tickle under there..." Or, there's the companion piece, All Fall Down which goes, "Singing all together/running round and round/bouncy, bouncy, on the bed/all fall down..." Oxenbury's art is wonderful, but god are the stories dull! Also, while it's on the plus side that the little babies in the book are admirably multicultural, I get kinda confused about the adult caretakers. The adults are also ethnically diverse -- Asian, African-American, Latino and white -- but in addition to taking care of the babies during the day, they all seem to be living with the children as well, bathing them, putting them to sleep in full beds, etc. So what's the deal? Is this a commune? Super-boundariless co-housing? The world's cuddliest childcare co-op? Hard to tell. It's the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.
(Grade -- Me: (C-)
(The rest of the world: (A)


"Tom And Pippo's Day" (1988)
"Tom And In The Garden" (1988)
"Tom And Pippo Read A Story" (1988)
"Tom And Pippo Go Shopping"
"Pippo Gets Lost" (1988)
"Tom And Pippo Go For A Walk"
"Tom And Pippo Make A Mess" (1988)
Written by Helen Oxenbury
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
(Aladdin Books)

A little boy, Tom, takes his toy monkey, Pippo, everywhere, and sees the world through Pippo's eyes. They have all kinds of tiny adventures, in everyday situations that little ones will recognize right away. This series seems near endless -- maybe I'll add the other titles as time permits -- but if your kid likes one of these books, doubtless they will love seeing more. (You might also try Vanessa Cabban's Bertie And Small series, which has much the same format.)
(C+)




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