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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 "U"






Kids Books -- "U" By Author

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"The Moon Jumpers"
Written by Janice May Udry
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak
(Harper & Row, 1959)

A semi-mystical evocation of nighttime and the wonders of nature, with early artwork by the much-vaunted Maurice Sendak. In the story, four children slip out after bedtime to dance and sing and play tag in the moonlight, until their pagan revels are interrupted by Dad and Mom telling them it's time for bed. There's some magic here, but the presentation, both the text and the artwork, is a bit stilted. For the right readers, a cherished treasure... It kinda drew a blank with my kid, though. (B-)


"Is Susan Here?"
Written by Janice May Udry
Illustrated by Karen Gundersheimer
(Harper Collins, 1962/1993)

A playful, imaginative little girl spends the whole day pretending to be different animals -- a tiger, a chicken, a monkey, a bear -- and saying "Where is Susan?" to her parents. They play along, and let the "animals" do all of Susan's chores until, at last, at bedtime, Susan returns. A cute story about fantasy and play, which shows how parents can join in the fun, too. Maybe not the most magical or technically skillful of children's books, but a good story that rings true and radiates warmth and love. Worth checking out! (B+)


"Suki's Kimono"
Written by Chieri Uegaki
Illustrated by Stphane Jorisch
(Kids Can Press, 2003)

A young Japanese-American girl (well, Japanese-Canadian, actually...) wants to go to the first day of school wearing a formal, traditional kimono that her grandmother bought her. Her sisters mock Suki and warn her that the other kids will tease her and think she's weird. Suki wears the kimono anyway, and though a lot of kids do make fun of her, the children in her homeroom class are won over when Suki explains why the kimono means so much to her and shows them a Japanese folk dance that she learned at a summertime cultural festival. This book wears its multi-cultural message on its sleeve, but the obviousness of it doesn't make a dent in the sweet, charming story (which is buoyed by gorgeous, captivating artwork)... All the messages here -- embracing one's cultural roots, willing to not be "cool", and following your own individual interests and a reverence for things that are old or old-fashioned -- all ring true for me. Maybe for you as well? At any rate, Suki can hang out at our house any time... I like that kid! (A)


"Hello, Lulu"
Written by Caroline Uff
Illustrated by Caroline Uff
(Walker Books, 1999)

Meet Lulu, a cute, cheerful little girl with a cute, cheerful life. Here we're introduced to Lulu, her pets and her family... She goes to the park and plays with her pals, and generally seems quite content. Uff's approach is similar to Lucy Cousins' Maisy books -- there's bright, simple artwork, and a blandly perky heroine with no hint of any trouble or angst anywhere to be seen. Little kids, girls in particular, will love this book. One thing that's odd is that here they tell us that red is Lulu's favorite color, but they never follow up on this potentially diverting detail anywhere else in this book, or in the rest of the series. No big deal; it doesn't really matter. Anyway, my girl went koo-koo for Lulu -- we discovered her at the library and wound up buying our favorite books in the series, and are still getting plenty of milage out of them. Recommended, although this first volume isn't my favorite in the series. (B)


"Lulu's Busy Day"
Written by Caroline Uff
Illustrated by Caroline Uff
(Walker Books, 2000)

Perhaps the best of the Lulu books... Here Lulu plays in the park, eats a meal, does some art, takes a bubble bath, brushes her teeth and goes to bed, smiling all the while. There's no plot, really, but that won't affect the enjoyment of this book. Not at all. Nice, light entertainment and good role modeling as well. Recommended! (A)


"Happy Birthday, Lulu!"
Written by Caroline Uff
Illustrated by Caroline Uff
(Walker Books, 2000)

Lulu gets some cards in the mail, gets dressed in her pretty new clothes, has a modest birthday celebration with a handful of friends and her two siblings. Her big gift from her parents is a Noah's Ark toy -- if that sort of religious reference bothers you, you might want to skip this one... Or, you could just call it her "boat." All in all, this one's pretty nice, too... My kid loves these books. (A)


"Happy Christmas, Lulu!"
Written by Caroline Uff
Illustrated by Caroline Uff
(Orchard Books, 2003)

(-)


"Lulu's Holiday"
Written by Caroline Uff
Illustrated by Caroline Uff
(Walker Books, 2004)

Lulu goes to the beach, puts on sunscreen (or, "suncream," as they call it in the UK...) and plays in the waves and the sand. Another short, emphemeral offering in the "Lulu" series. (A)


"Crictor"
Written by Tomi Ungerer
Illustrated by Tomi Ungerer
(Harper Collins, 1958)

Alongside Babar, Curious George and The Happy Lion, this is one of the prototypical colonial-minded, animals-are-better-off-in-cities books that the French, in particular, seemed to excel at. One day an elderly French woman named Madame Bodot receives a package in the mail from her son in Africa -- inside is a baby boa constrictor that he wants her to keep as a pet. The snake is a real sweetie, and she walks it all around town, knits it a little socklike sweater, and teaches it to eat things that aren't live prey. (That last part is all off-screen...) Crictor becomes a hero when he catches a burglar and the town celebrates him with a medal and a statue and -- highest honor of all -- names a park after him. This book does have a daffy charm to it, although it never quite hit home for us the same way as some of the other books in the genre. (B)




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