Hi there... This is the fourth page of the letter "L", in an alphabetical listing 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 -- "L" By Title
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"Lost!"
Written by David McPhail
Drawn by David McPhail
(Little Brown, 1990)

Great book. Really great. I came to this one after flipping over The Puddle (reviewed below) and found it equally enchanting. These are the books that put McPhail on my radar, and though he has a lot of other stories that don't really wow me, these ones do. In Lost, a curious bear climbs into a stalled delivery truck and winds up in New York City. A friendly boy finds the bear, who is confused and scared, and helps him get back to the forest. Their adventure through the city has a deliciously fantastic flavor -- the bear rides in elevators, goes to the park and the library, and while a few people do little doubletakes, for the most part his presence is accepted. The artwork is beautiful, and the tone of the writing is both whimsical and gentle. It's a fun, sweet, perfect story, the kind of book that feels like a timeless classic to me. Highly recommended. (A++)


"Lost And Found"
Written by Oliver Jeffers
Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
(Philomel, 2005)

A sequel, of sorts, to Jeffer's How To Catch A Star... The stickfigure-ish protagonist called "the boy" returns in a more complicated, more satisfying narrative, involving a wayward penguin who arrives at his doorstep, and the boy's adventures trying to get the penguin back home. After leaving the little feller off at the South Pole, he realizes he misses him, just as the penguin rounds the corner, looking for his new friend. As in the previous volume, this book has a strong visual appeal, and an off-kilter, whimsical sense of humor. A sweet, but not too sappy message about friendship as well! (B+)


"Lottie's New Beach Towel"
Written by Petra Mathers
Illustrated by Petra Mathers
(Atheneum Books, 1998)

"Wacky." Well, that's what I'm supposed to say. Only, I really don't get the appeal of the Lottie books... the formula just doesn't work for me. Here, Lottie gets a new red beach towel sent to her by an aunt and, on a trip to the beach, it does double duty as a boat sail and a bridal veil, then she comes home and writes a thank-you note to her aunt, telling her all about the day's adventures. Yeah, I get that these stories are off-kilter and unique, that they're (a little) nutty and nonviolent and that they show a certain kind of low-key personality... But they just don't grab me as dramatic narrative. Other folks are totally koo-koo for these books, though, so maybe you should seek a second opinion. (C)


"Lottie's New Friend"
Written by Petra Mathers
Illustrated by Petra Mathers
(Atheneum Books, 1999)

When Dodo --- a... purple dodo bird from France? -- moves to town and becomes Lottie's new friend, Herbie the duck feels jealous and insecure. But when Lottie goes out of town for a while, Herbie and Dodo find common ground and become friends as well. Sorry, though: I'm just not feeling the love for this series... The text is a bit awkward, and doesn't always support the story, and I'm not wild about the naifish artwork, either. Maybe I'm too grumpy and uptight to get the whole goofball vibe, but Lottie and company don't do much for me. (Followed by A Cake For Herbie. ) (C)


"Lottie's Princess Dress"
Written by Doris Dorrie
Illustrated by Julia Kaergel
(Penguin/Dial, 1999)

A lighthearted take on the whole tough-getting-kids-out-the-door dilemma... It's a school (and work) day and Lottie's harried mother grows increasingly exasperated while trying to hustle the dreamy-headed young'un out to greet the day. She wants Lottie to bundle up against the cold, but the girl insists on wearing her golden princess dress, and in the argument that follows, Mom briefly blows her stack and then apologizes. She eventually gives in and lets Lottie wear her dress-up clothes, and what's more, Lottie convinces Mom to wear her fancy evening dress, too, so that they'll be dressed up together. Lottie keeps insisting that they should dress fancy because it's a "special" day -- and when the do dress up, it becomes a special day, with strangers and teachers and co-workers smiling at a parent who's been drawn into the magical world of playtime. The book is bittersweet, touching both on conflict and playfulness. Since no daddy appears, it can also be taken as a single-parent book. Recommended! (B+)


"The Love Songs Of The Little Bear"
Written by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Susan Jeffers
(Hyperion, 2001)

Sorry, folks, but I'm just not on the M. W. Brown bandwagon, and this quartet of slender board books doesn't do much to help tip the scales. The text is palpably weak, drawn from some unpublished scribbles from Brown's papers -- the slipshod "poems" are organized under seasonal themes, "Love Song Of Winter," "Love Song Of Spring," etc., but there is little in the text to support this calendar-based interpretation, nor is there much that stylistically links the four texts, other than their overall lack of cohesion and polish. The artwork, by the ever-delightful Susan Jeffers, is what makes these books work... My little girl actually likes these books a lot, and asks for them to be read, although it is a constant struggle to make them work or even to scan well, and they don't really have much to offer in terms of their content -- only the "Summer" volume has a text that I'd remotely call a "song," or even enjoyable. The project seems inherently opportunistic and shady, but given these constraints, it must be said that Jeffers and the publishers have come up with a classy-looking product. Honestly, I wouldn't recommend these books to anyone, but if you had them around, your kid will probably enjoy looking at the pretty pictures. Grumble, grumble. (B-)


"Love That Baby"
Written by Kathryn Lasky
Illustrated by Jennifer Plecas
(Candlewick, 2004)

A what-to-expect, how-to manual for little kids (and maybe new parents) in a household about to recieve a new baby. Do they drool? Why, yes they do. Poop? Yup, that too. What do you do when they cry? Oh, all kinds of things! The book also suggests some games you can play and behavior you can expect... The text is a bit thick, but it's still a cute book, and could be useful to help explain what's going on, or about to happen when you get that little bundle o' joy. (B)


"Lucky Morning"
Written by Sally Noll
Illustrated by Sally Noll
(Greenwillow, 1994)

A sweet story, but clunky execution. A little girl named Nora goes on a hike with her grandfather, taking in the splendor of rural Montana, where they see horses, deer, and even bear and elk. That's all pretty neat, but if you rely on the written text, the story is a little hard to follow... Details are skipped over and some information is only presented visually, making massive paraphrasing and improvisation necessary, which is fine sometimes, but not always. If the story appeals to you, it may be worth the extra effort to make it work. (C-)


"Lucy's Picture"
Written by Nicola Moon
Illustrated by Alex Ayliffe
(Dial Books/Orchard Books, 1994)

While all the other kids plunge into their art class paintings, young Lucy hangs back and asks the teacher if she can make a collage, instead. The teacher says yes, and Lucy spends the day building a very tactile painting, with felt strips, feathers, yarn and three-dimensional elements. The reason isn't clear until the very end, when Lucy's grandfather comes to pick her up after school... She'd been making the picture for him, and it turns out he's blind... The book makes its point subtlely -- mostly the story is about the thrill of creating an art piece, but the twist ending provides a nice springboard for conversations about disabilities and different ways of perceiving the world. Nicely done... recommended! (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)


"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)




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