Hi there... This is the first page of the Letter "I" in an alphabetical list of children's books reviewed on ReadThatAgain.com... All these books are also listed by Author in another section of the site.

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Kids Books -- "I" By Title
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"I Am A Bunny"
Written by Ole Risom
Illustrated by Richard Scarry
(Golden Books, 1963)

A beautifully illustrated book showing a little bunny named Nicholas going through the seasons of the year -- picking flowers and chasing butterflies in the Spring, blowing dandelion seeds in the Summer, watching leaves fall in the Autumn, etc. The text is about as simple as you can get, but the artwork is extraordinary. Readers who are used to Richard Scarry's simpler, cartoonish work in his own books will be swept away by these gorgeously rich, detailed paintings. There is a sense of expansiveness and magic that's an utter delight. Don't rely on any of the truncated Golden Book anthologies for this story... You'll definitely want the full version; the rectangular board book is quite handsome and user-friendly. Risom also authored I Am A Fox, I Am A Puppy, etc., but most of the other books in the series feature other artists: this is one of Scarry's greatest works. (A)

"I Am Not Going To School Today"
Written by Robie H. Harris
Illustrated by Jan Ormerod
(Margaret K. McElderry, 2003)

Although he goes to sleep excited by the prospects of his first day in school, a young boy starts to worry in the night: how will he find his cubby, or know where all the crayons and toys are, or when it's time for recess or snacks? He wakes up the next morning and announces to his parents that he plans to skip the first day of school, but will go the second day, because that's when kids know all the new things. His parents patiently get him fed and dressed and talk him through it, and after they finally get the boy to school, then the fun begins. He takes his stuffed animal, Hank, to school, and later tells his folks how much fun Hank had meeting the new kids, etc. Although the beginning of the book focuses on (some might say "models") negative behavior and attitudes towards school, there are more positive messages embedded throughout the story, and the narrative is richer and stronger than many books with similar themes. Nice artwork, good presentation of schooltime activities, and a full exploration of the anxieties and pushback many children express when first going to school. (I was actually too chicken to read this to my kid, but I still liked what it said and how it said it...) (B+)

"I Can Fly!"
Written by Ruth Krauss
Illustrated by Mary Blair
(Golden Books, 1951)

A giddy, goofy lark, as a little girl playfully pretends to be all kinds of things -- birds, fish, barnyard critters. The simple rhymes are fun to read, and the art is a blast. This book looks and feels surprisingly modern: if you like hip new books that take a retro look, then why not try the real thing? Although it's from the Truman years, this has a merry modernity that makes it a real page turner. Whee...!! (B+)

"I Can Read With My Eyes Shut"
Written by Dr. Seuss
Illustrated by Dr. Seuss
(Beginner's Books, 1978)

The Cat In The Hat is back, telling kids what fun reading can be... Sounds good, alright, but this is a disappointing Dr. Seuss book... one of the few volumes you can really say that about... Sad, too, because this is a propaganda piece to encourage kids to read, but the message is a bit too blunt, and the words don't really flow the way they should. The magic just isn't there... It's not a bad book, by any means -- you could certainly find worse -- but it's not as fun as it ought to be. Skippable. (C-)

"I Can't Talk Yet, But When I Do..."
Written by Julie Markes
Illustrated by Laura Rader
(Harper Collins, 2003)

A little, preverbal baby thinks about all the things it would like to say, many of them directed to an older sibling who teaches, plays with and protects her, giving her love even when there are moments of friction. A really lovely story about growth, self-awareness and positive sibling relations. Sweet. Highly recommended... and also a great book for babies who are developing their verbal skills. My girl really loved this one, and asked for it to be read over and over. (A+)

"I'd Really Like To Eat A Child"
Written by Sylviane Donnio
Illustrated by Dorothee de Monfreid
(Random House, 2007)

This has got kind of a similar vibe to Mo Willems' Leonardo The Terrible Monster: a teeny-tiny little crocodile named Achilles wakes up one day and decides he's tired of eating bananas, and that he'd really rather hunt down a kid, and eat that instead. His parents, properly civilized, worry greatly about Achilles' latest fixation: everyone knows you have to eat a real breakfast and that you can't grow big and strong chowing down on little children. But, Achilles has to learn for himself: when he goes down to the river for a dip and spies a young girl that he thinks will be easy prey, Achilles learns just how small he really is. The girl coos over the cute little lizard, scoops him up by his tail, tickles him mercilessly, and then tosses him into the water after she gets bored. The picture of Achilles running out of the underbrush, yelling "RAAH!" is priceless... Plus, banana lovers will get a kick out of this book, since there are a ton of them on every page. A nice European import, originally published French a few years earlier. (B+)

"If Anything Ever Goes Wrong At The Zoo"
Written by Mary Jean Hendrick
Illustrated by Jane Dyer
(Harcourt Brace & Co., 1993)

Leslie and her mom go to the zoo every Saturday, and each week the girl talks to a different zookeeper, asking if she could have a zebra, a monkey, an elephant... And each time, when the zookeeper replies that the animals have to stay at the zoo, Leslie replies that, "if anything ever goes wrong at the zoo..." they can bring them to her house. Well, of course, one day something does go wrong, a massive flood of Biblical proportions send the zookeepers up the hill to Leslie's house, where the monkeys can play on the swingset and the alligators swim in the bath. After the weather clears up and the animals go home, we get the book's real payoff: Leslie's mom calmly sitting down with her and telling her to ask her first before she invites friends over. The artwork has a faint whiff of the stiffness that comes with photo-realist efforts, paintings modeled on photographs, but not so much that it greatly interferes with the charm of the story. A nice twist on the old zoo book formula... recommended! (B+)

"If Frogs Made Weather"
Written by Marion Dane Bauer
Illustrated by Dorothy Donohue
(Holiday House, 2005)

If frogs made the weather, it would always be wet... If it was up to cats, it would always be sunny... Birds like the springtime, flies prefer the heat of summer... I see where this is going, and I like the concept, but this book didn't really click with me. The writing, which is kind of haiku-ish, feels like it should rhyme, but doesn't, and winds up feeling a bit stilted. Also, some of the choices don't ring true, like -- why would turtles prefer it to rain, or weasels want it to be foggy? I suppose mostly this is okay -- possibly I'm just being a bit too grouchy. (C+)

"If I Had A Robot"
Written by Dan Yaccarino
Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
(Viking Books, 1996)

I suppose this book has its boyish charm, although I wouldn't recommend it, either for its message or its presentation. The artwork, from TV animator Dan Yaccarino, is cluttered and klutzy -- he's aiming for the clean, streamlined, retro-spaceage look he perfected in later books, but he ain't there yet. Mostly, though, it's the story I disliked. Yaccarino starts from the premise of the title -- cool! a robot!! -- and then slides lazily into a rejectionist fantasy wherein the robot will eat the boy's vegetables for him and get him out of his schoolwork as well. Why promote these negative values? Why couldn't the robot do something really cool, like fly him to Mars, or something? To make things worse, what pulls the lad out of his dreamworld and back to the dinner table is the promise of a super-sugary desert, but only if he finishes his meal. Bleahh. How lame and how counterproductive... Don't get me wrong: I'm not some rigid, humorless, all-books-must-teach-right-from-wrong crankypants grind, but I just don't see the point of this narrative... I mean, if you think it's funny, good for you. No doubt there are lots of kids who will respond favorably as well... But I imagine there are an awful lot of parents out there who would be perfectly happy to keep this one off the reading list and have their kids think that veggies and school are cool. There are plenty of opportunities for the opposite message to seep in; why put it there yourself? (C-)

"If It Weren't For You"
Written by Charlotte Zolotow
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
(Harper Collins, 2006)

An exemplary "issue book" about sibling rivalry, reprised from Zolotow's 1966 original, with new art from the ever-talented G. Brian Karas. A young girl grumbles about all the downsides to having a little sister -- she doesn't get all the presents anymore, she can't watch scary movies, she has to come home and help take care of the baby, rather than play with her friends, etc. All the while, she's got her little sister in tow, and the toddler is so-o-o-o-o-o cute and loving that finally the grumpy, grumbly older sib is worn down and has to cuddle up and care for the little muffin. This book hits every note just right: it's warm, it's funny, it explores negativity without succumbing to it entirely. Definitely recommended... one of the best books in the genre! (A)

"If Not For The Cat"
Written by Jack Pretlusky
Illustrated by Ted Rand
(Greenwillow, 2004)

Doubtless, I am too stodgy and square to grok this one, but it strikes me as a fine example of a "children's" book that's written more for adults than for kids. Then again, maybe that's the point, maybe it's just a coffeetable book, masquerading as a picturebook... I dunno. Or perhaps it's a godsend to any gradeschool teachers still introducing their kids to Japanese haiku... Anyway, this is a series of (beautifully illustrated) haikus about various insects and animals; some of the poems readily make sense, others are fairly mystifying. This one has never done much for me, and I've always regretted letting my wife spend our hard-earned sheckels on it. But maybe I'm just not the target audience, being the big crabbypants that I am. (B-)

"If You Give A Mouse A Cookie"
Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
(Laura Geringer, 1985)

The first book in a hugely popular series, and probably the best. The premise is Rube Goldberg-ian, where one thing leads to another: If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want some milk. If you give him milk... etc., etc., until the whole house is turned upside down. It's kind of amusing the first time around, although adult readers may find themselves climbing the walls with boredom after a few iterations. The many sequels, If You Give A Moose A Muffin, et. al., all seem like lesser variations on the theme. (B)

"If You Give A Moose A Muffin"
Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
(Laura Geringer, 1991)

A note-for-note retread of the first book. With a moose. Instead of a mouse. Not terribly original. (C)

"If You Give A Pig A Pancake"
Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
(Laura Geringer, 1998)

Ditto. Except with a pig. Instead of a moose. Or a mouse. If you like the series, you'll enjoy this one as well, but it doesn't really add much to the kooky fun of the first book. (C)

"If You Take A Mouse To The Movies"
Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
(Laura Geringer, 2000)

The mouse goes to the movies and wants a bunch of stuff from the concession stand. That's nice, because that's where local theaters really make their money. There's also a Christmas element to this book, if that is any interest. (C)

"If You Take A Mouse To School"
Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
(Laura Geringer, 2002)

This one's kind of fun. The mouse comes along to school and is a model student, spelling hugely complicated words, doing great art projects, even making a comicbook on some notebook paper. The everyday school stuff is presented nicely, and the parallel-plot stuff of the mouse's accomplishments injects a liveliness and wit that was starting to get lost in this series. One of the better books in the run -- worth checking out. (B)

"If You Give A Pig A Party"
Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
(Laura Geringer, 2005)

Oh, god... make it stop! (C-)

"If You'll Be My Valentine"
Written by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Fumi Kosaka
(Harper Collins, 2005)

A sweet Valentine's Day book, with big, cartoonish artwork that is easy to understand and perfectly compliments the text. A boy makes valentines for all the characters in his life -- his dog, his cat, his parents and younger siblings, even for the bird outside his window and the tree in the front yard. I like this book: it's cheerful, generous of spirit and hits just the right note for little kids who are young enough to be enchanted by the idea of valentines, especially ones that you make yourself. Recommended! (A)

"If You're Happy And You Know It"
Written by Jane Cabrera
Illustrated by Jane Cabrera
(Holiday House, 2003)

A bright, fun, colorful version of the "Happy And You Know It" song, with smiling jungle animals enacting each verse. My kid super-duper, double-dog loved this book... The only drawback might be if your kid loves the book version so much that they get confused singing the song at playtime and hear other activities that aren't mentioned in The Book. That's a small price to pay, though, for finding such a fun, cheerful, high-energy reading experience. (A)

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