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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 "T"






Kids Books -- "T" By Author

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"The Brass Ring"
Written by Nancy Tafuri
Illustrated by Nancy Tafuri
(Greenwillow, 1996)

A nice book in which a young girl lists all the things she can do now that she is "big," like ride a bicycle (albeit one with training wheels), back-float in the water, build sand castles, make new friends, etc. Her favorite thing is to visit the merry-go-round and get on by herself... Choosing her favorite horse, she rides again and again, and even reaches out to grab the brass ring and win a free ride. Tafuri's artwork doesn't wow be, but it does the trick, and the text is lovely. Great book for kids who are starting to think of themselves as "big girls" or "big boys." (B)


"Goodnight, My Duckling"
Written by Nancy Tafuri
Illustrated by Nancy Tafuri
(Harper Collins, 2005)

I bought this one very early in my book-buying phase, because the artwork seemed so lovely and appealing. Turned out, though, that I've hardly ever read the book -- for some reason it never really clicked with us. The story is simple: a mother duck is herding her brood back home for the night, when one duckling, curious and easily distracted, strays away and briefly gets lost. The other animals in the pond help it find its way back home, and sleepytime comes. The illustrations are worthy of Audubon, though the story seems a little cookie-cutter to me. I'm sure many others will enjoy this more than I did. (B-)


"How Big Is The World?"
Written by Britta Teckentrup
Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup
(Sterling/Boxer Books, 2007)

A beautiful book that evokes natural majesty and a sense of wonder, and encourages readers to look beyond their current horizons. One day a young mole burrows out from its hole and, blinking in the sunlight, wonders aloud how big the world is... The mole's father, a model of the whole if-you-love-something-let-it-go-free ethos, tells Little Mole to go out and explore the world himself, and see if he can find the answer. So he does, meeting new animals and asking each in its turn how big the world is. Each one has a different answer, depending on its own perspective, but the more Little Mole travels, the more worldly his acquaintances become. From a spider who sees only his own web and a mouse that only knows its own field, Little Mole moves on to meet a horse who has been to other fields and a seagull that knows of the ocean. His final guide is a giant, gentle whale that takes him to the North Pole and then to the tropics, and across the globe, eventually coming back home where Father Mole is waiting. So, how big is the world? When this question is posed to the whale, she responds that there is no end to the world, but that, "the more you look, the more you will see." The brilliance of this book is both geographic and philosophical, and the tone of the presentation is absolutely perfect. Lovely visuals, too: this has the look and the feel of the best books by Eric Carle and Leo Lionni, and pays warm homage to their work. I have a kid who is often resistant to this sort of message-heavy, nature-loving didacticism, but she was thoroughly entranced by this one. Me, too. Definitely recommended! (A)


"Part-Time Dog"
Written by Jane Thayer
Illustrated by Lisa McCue
(William Morrow & Co., 1954/2004)

A touching story about a stray dog that "adopts" three different women. The women call the dog catcher, though, and have the pooch hauled off... then instantly regret their decision and rescue the pup from the pound. I have a powerful memory of loving this book as a kid, especially the artwork, which really drew me in. Upon rediscovering it at the local library, I was sorely disappointed to discover that the 1954 version I grew up (pictured here) with is no longer available, and has been replaced by a new, "improved" version, with modernized artwork in place of the old stuff by Thayer's former partner, Seymour Fleishman. What a shame. I looked at the new edition, and there is no doubt in my mind that the old artwork was what made me love the story so much. McCue's style is too detailed and literal; it detracts from the simplicity of the style... and neither the dog nor the ladies who adopt him are nearly as interesting or likable the way they look now. Oh well. I'm going to go track down a copy of the old book now to read to my kid. (Old version: A; new version: C)


"The Puppy Who Wanted A Boy"
Written by Jane Thayer
Illustrated by Lisa McCue
(William Morrow & Co., 1958/1985)

A fanciful tale about a little puppy named Petey who wants to get a boy for a Christmas present... His mommy is all for it, but has to come back home and tell Petey that he can't find one for him... So the puppy has to go out and find one himself. Finally he stumbles across a boy's home, where they take him in and Petey "gets" fifty boys instead of one. The basic theme is clever, but Thayer has a hard time negotiating between the puppy's-eye view, with Petey and the protagonist, and having him live in a human-dominated world. When he "finds" his boy(s), what that really means is that he has to go live with them, and leave the cozy home with his mother, which feels kinda weird on an emotional level. Also, the whole orphanage thing -- once a staple of popular culture -- sounds kinda weird today, where "boy's homes" are an unusual concept. Like several other Thayer classics, this one originally had artwork by Seymour Fleishman, Thayer's collaborator in the 1950s, but was updated in the '80s to have a more contemporary look, and was revamped again in 2003. (Personally, I like the old artwork best, but the story still has the same impact...) (B-)


"Quiet On Account Of Dinosaur"
Written by Jane Thayer
Illustrated by Seymour Fleishman
(William Morrow & Co., 1964)

A goofy, delightful paleontological fantasy about a little girl named Mary Ann who (like oh, so many kids) is totally koo-koo about dinosaurs. One day she actually finds a dinosaur (a hibernating brontosaurus) and brings him home to keep as a pet. Of course, that plan doesn't go over so well, and her mother tells her she'll have to take the dinosaur to stay somewhere else. Of course, her school teacher is entirely sympathetic and agrees to let the big lizard stay and become the school mascot. The story has a marvelous absurdism about it -- no one bats an eye at the idea that a dinosaur is alive, but they do wonder why he's so shy. Also, it's kind of a stealth-tomboy tale, since Mary Ann has the sort of geeky dino-love that is so often the reserve of little boys... She even grows up to be a "famous scientist," the world's greatest expert on dinosaurs, with her very own museum and everything! We really enjoyed this one. Great 'Sixties-style artwork, too. (A)


"Anatole"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1956)

A wonderful Francophile classic, in which a teeny-tiny, beret-wearing Parisian mouse discovers that humans do not, in fact, like to have mice in their houses, and indeed consider them germy little freeloaders. Determined to pull his own weight, Anatole sneaks into a cheese factory and appoints himself the company's new taste-tester... When his suggestions dramatically improve the company's sales, he gets the job for real (although no one ever discovers that he is, in fact, a mouse...) Other than the lovely pictures, the love of cheese and a few cute phrases, the overt Frenchness of the series is a bit tangential, but it doesn't really matter... This is a lovely series, full of good humor and captivating artwork. Recommended! (B+)


"Anatole And The Cat"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1957)

Our plucky Gallic mousie find his new job jeopardized when a cat shows up at the cheese factory, giving Anatole a fright and causing his friend Gaston to quit working as his assistant. Memos fly back and forth between Anatole and the cheese factory's owner (now that sounds French!) until finally Anatole figures out a way to get the horrid feline out of his hair. Like the first Anatole book, this story is witty and charming, although the dramatic arc is much less clean, and readers may have to do a little more work to make it hit home. Still, we liked it. Probably better suited for older kids, but charming nonetheless, with some of Galdone's best artwork. (B+)


"Anatole And The Toy Shop"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1970)

(-)


"Anatole In Italy"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1973)

(-)


"Anatole And The Robot"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1960)

(-)


"Anatole Over Paris"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1961)

(-)


"Anatole And The Poodle"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1965)

(-)


"Anatole And The Piano"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1966)

(-)


"Anatole And The Pied Piper"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill)

(-)


"Anatole And The Thirty Thieves"
Written by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(McGraw-Hill, 1969)

(-)


"Monster Trucks"
Written by Mark Todd
Illustrated by Mark Todd
(Houghton Mifflin, 2001)

A rambunctious, joyful celebration of big, powerful trucks. The cartoonish, anthropomorphized drawings show us bulldozers, semis, snowplows, garbage trucks, forklifts, diggers, concrete mixers and more... A rowdy refrain, "monster trucks! monster trucks!" starts out each page, which makes the transition from page to page easy and fluid. Unfortunately, the rhymes that follow are often awkward and ungainly -- Todd seems more interested in imparting information about what each truck does than he is in making the poetic meter scan well. It's a shame, because he's so close so often; a little more editing or maybe input from a few poet pals would have helped a lot. Still, this is a really fun book, and vehicle freaks will love it. Recommended! (B)


"Just A Little Bit"
Written by Ann Tompert
Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
(Houghton Mifflin, 1993)

An elephant and a mouse try playing on the teeter-totter together, but it doesn't work, since the elephant weighs so much more. One after another, other animals playing at the park climb on to the mouse's side to help even things out, but it sure takes a lot of other critters to weigh as much as an elephant! Just when they're about to give up, a tiny beetle lands on the mouse's nose and tips the balance, and then the game begins. An amusing, if mildly awkward, story that helps introduce the physics involved in using the see-saw. One trouble with the text is that the elephant keeps urging the other animals to push down to try and make it work, but it's up to reader to know that this won't work (the text never makes it explicit that weight alone will make the see-saw work). Other than little blip, this is a pretty nice book. Amusing artwork from Lynn Munsinger packs in a lot of detail and humor into her pictures, especially where she shows the poor mouse getting crowded off his seat by all the bigger animals who are trying to help -- Definitely a strong point of this book...) (C+)


"Subway Sparrow/Gorrion Del Metro"
Written by Leyla Torres
Illustrated by Leyla Torres
(Farrar Straus Giroux, 1993)

When a sparrow flies into a New York City subway car, four city dwellers from different ethnic backgrounds and ages cooperate to capture the panicky bird and bring it back outside to street level and set it free. One man speaks only Spanish, and a woman speaks Polish, but everyone understands each other as they work together to solve the problem. A nice, simple story about cooperation, kindness to animals and compassion in the heart of the big city. Nice glimpse at one of the world's biggest subway systems as well, albeit in a slightly shinier version than many of us might be used to. (B)


"Almost"
Written by Richard Torrey
Illustrated by Richard Torrey
(Harper Collins, 2009)

A sweet, simple book about an almost-six year old named Jack who can "almost" do a bunch of stuff: make his own breakfast, ride a big bike, win the big baseball game, etc. There are a few pages that deal with his locking horns with his older brother, so if you've got an only child that part might not resonate, but overall the book is about yearning for growth and independence. Nice message with a good, straightforward, humorous delivery. Recommended! (By the way, if you like the Jack character, he continues on into two other books, Why and Because, below.) (B+)


"Why?"
Written by Richard Torrey
Illustrated by Richard Torrey
(Harper Collins, 2010)

(B+)


"Because"
Written by Richard Torrey
Illustrated by Richard Torrey
(Harper Collins, 2011)

(B+)


"The Mitten"
Written by Alvin Tresselt
Illustrated by Yaroslava
(Lathrop, Lee & Shepard, 1964)

A fun, old-fashioned (1960s-style) children's book that retells an old Ukrainian folk tale about a tiny, lost mitten that becomes the temporary shelter for an unlikely menagerie of frostbitten forest animals. Wonderfully absurd, with the fox, boar and bear crowding into the fingertips, while a lone cricket turns out to be the proverbial straw that pops the camel's stitches. This has the comforting aura of an old-world folk or fairy tale, and a magical-thinking vibe that's pretty inviting. You don't see much artwork like this, either, these days -- nice to get a whiff of traditional draftsmanship once in a while! It won an award, back in '64... pick it up, and you'll see why! (B+)


"Wake Up, City!"
Written by Alvin Tresselt
Illustrated by Carolyn Ewing
(William Morrow & Co., 1990)

The rhythms of life in a big city are captured in this pre-dawn tone poem... Rosy-fingered dawn comes creeping an the city awakens, first clouds, then birds, then buildings and children and cars... The text is a teensy bit stilted, but that's okay -- it gives a great introduction to the mechanics of city life, the street cleaners and small markets, the traffic and transit. A clear, simple presentation that celebrates big-city life, based on a text originally written by Tresselt in the late 1950s. Recommended! (B+)


"Wake Up, Farm!"
Written by Alvin Tresselt
Illustrated by Carolyn Ewing
(William Morrow & Co., 1991)

The rural companion to Wake Up, City! (reviewed above). (-)


"How Do You Know?"
Written by Deborah W. Trotter
Illustrated by Julie Downing
(Houghton Mifflin/Clarion, 2006)

Waking up on a foggy morning, a little girl asks her mother where the world has gone... Mom takes her out for a walk and shows her that everything is still where it was, even if they can't see it all through the mists. The child asks the mother, But how do you know it's there? A curious book, I suppose, about both faith and tangible reality, about a child's trust in their parent's knowledge of the world, and about a child testing that knowledge. It's also about a mother and child on an adventure, exploring nature together in the misty magic of a foggy day... The text is well-matched by the dreamy pastels of San Francisco-based illustrator Julie Downing -- nobody knows fog quite as well as Bay Area natives! (B)


"A Is For Annabelle: A Doll's Alphabet"
Written by Tasha Tudor
Illustrated by Tasha Tudor
(Oxford University Press, 1954)

A delightfully old-fashioned alphabet primer, using a doll named Annabelle and all her clothes and accoutrements to get us from A to Z. The simple, realistic illustrations alternate between color and black-and-white plates, bordered with floral wreaths. The letters appear in large, bold print -- hard to miss -- so the educational message comes in loud and clear, though little girls or boys who are into dolls will also enjoy the dolly content as well. Some of the words, like Nosegay, Overskirt and Tippet are so old-fashioned they were probably out-of-date even when this book first came out which, of course, adds to the charm. And even while evoking the style of turn-of-the-century Edwardian children's books, Tudor shows flashes of a winsome, modern humor, as on her "X" page: "X is the letter for which I've no rhyme..." A nice girly-girl book, well suited for kids who are into the more formal, bonnet-wearing kind of doll. (A)


"Pumpkin Moonshine"
Written by Tasha Tudor
Illustrated by Tasha Tudor
(1937)

First published in 1937, Tasha Tudor's Halloween classic still has a timeless innocence and appeal. It is a delightfully simple story of a little girl on a farm who picks a pumpkin and rolls it downhill to where she can make it into a jack-o-lantern (or a "moonshine," as they apparently called them in New England, way back when...) When the pumpkin runs away from her, chaos ensues in the barnyard, and little Sylvie-Ann must make amends. A simple, old-fashioned story made magical with clean storytelling and wonderful art. Great for little kids! (B)


"Pumpkin Cat"
Written by Ann Turner
Illustrated by Amy June Bates
(Hyperion, 2004)

An orange tabby cat gets lost during a rainstorm and shelters inside a book drop at a local library. In the morning the librarians find her, and decide to adopt her and call her Pumpkin Cat, making her the library's mascot during the Halloween season. Pumpkin Cat is happy and loves her new home, but finds it a bit lonely at night... After the library's big Halloween party, though, one of the kids leaves a little black kitten on their doorstep, and she becomes Pumpkin Cat's pal... Kitty cats, libraries and Halloween... who could ask for more?? The storytelling's a little stiff, but their hearts were in the right place. Nice seasonal offering. (B)




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