Hi there... This is the second page of the letter "T" 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 -- "T" By Title
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"Teacher's Pets"
Written by Dayle Ann Dodds
Illustrated by Marilyn Hafner
(Candlewick, 2006)

Another winner from Dayle Ann Dodds... This time it's about a grade school show-and-tell project that gets a little out of hand. The kids in Miss Fry's class all have cool pets -- goats, tarantulas, chickens and boa constrictors -- but for some reason their parents keep asking if it might be possible for, uh, the animals to, um, stay in the classroom for a while. Always affable and upbeat, Miss. Fry cheerfully says yes, and soon she has quite a menagerie at school. When the year comes to an end, however, she finally asks the kids to take their critters back home, and they all get taken -- all except for one, a little cricket named Moe, who apparently likes Miss Fry "best of all." So, she takes Moe home and gives him a spot in her garden, where he serenades her for years to come. A cute, lively story that gives a flavor of what grade school is like, but mostly it's about the animals and the kids... A nice fun read! (B+)

"Tea For Ten"
Written by Lena Anderson
Illustrated by Lena Anderson
(Farrar Straus Giroux/R&S, 2000)

A cute counting book where a lonely little hedgehog sets up a tea party for her friends, an animal menagerie who drop in one by one and sit down to share tea and biscuits, and then depart to go see a movie. Even though she's not my favorite artist, I like the self-contained feel of Anderson's world... Apparently so does my kid: she asked for this one to be read over and over.

"Te Amo, Bebe, Little One"
Written by Lisa Wheeler
Illustrated by Maribel Suarez
(Little, Brown & Co, 2004)

A charming rhymed lullaby with a latino twist... A new mother makes up her own song for her little baby, singing it as the "brown-eyed babe" grows through its first year. There's a smattering of Spanish in the text, and several cultural signifiers -- such as cacti, palm trees, a mariachi band playing at a fiesta, the use of words like turquoise -- that skillfully place this book into a Latin-American context. The story is universal, though, and toddlers of any background can enjoy the bright, emotionally warm artwork... My only complaint is that the meter of the book's refrain, where the title comes from, just doesn't scan in the last line:

I love you once. I love you twice
I love you more than beans and rice
I love you more than sea or sun
Te amo, bebe, little one

It's as if the author was so in love with that last line, she just couldn't give it up... You can make it work (particularly if you're singing with a melody) but it's needlessly clumsy. Otherwise, a very nice book for really little kids... (B-)

"The Teddy Bear"
Written by David McPhail
Drawn by David McPhail
(Henry Holt, 2002)

This one doesn't work for me... Here, a privileged, middle-class child loses his teddy bear, and mourns its loss... Meanwhile the bear is rescued from the trash by a homeless person, who loves it and cares for it. Months later, the boy sees the two of them together, and tries to get his bear back, only to realize how much it means to the older man. Then he and the homeless guy strike up an unlikely friendship. While I appreciate the sentiment, and the attempt to inject social consciousness into the picturebook ouvre, the story rings false and is too preachy. I mean, look -- I live in Berkeley and I wouldn't encourage any small child to just randomly hang out with any of the hundreds of homeless people we have here. Some of them are really super-creepy or just plain out of it. Empathy and compassion is admirable, but the issue could have been addressed more honestly, or just more realistically. (C-)

"Tell Me My Story, Mama"
Written by Deb Lund
Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
(Harper Collins, 2004)

A little girl chirpily asks her mother to tell her the whole story of how she was born, prompting her at every turn for the details she knows by heart. In the end it turns out that mama is expecting a new baby soon and reassures her girl that while the new baby will have its story, "You'll still have yours." This is a really nice book; other than their getting caught in a blizzard the day of the birth, the story elements are mostly universal to all readers (except same sex and single parents and homebirth-ers) and the undercurrent of humor and warmth is quite nice. This humor is mirrored in the artwork which adds great details, such as the mom chowing down late at night while still pregnant and the dazed, loopy look on the father's face after the baby is born. Lots of smiling on everyone's faces, making this a very happy birth story... There are several pages of their being in doctor's offices and at the hospital, which may seem intimidating, but in the context of the book, there's really no anxiety attached. Great book... recommended! (A)

"The Telephone Book"
Written by Dorothy Kunhardt
Illustrated by Dorothy Kunhardt
(Golden Books, 1942)

This is one of those weird old books that kinda gives me the creeps, and yet kids love it, so I guess you can't argue with success... An early "pop-up"-style book, this has features such as a telephone receiver on a string that children can pull out and play with, a purse that opens up, a blanket that slides up to cover baby in bed, etc. However, the story is a little bit twisted: two children who have been left at home alone call you up on the phone and ask you to help them take care of their infant brother, Timmy. Where are the adults? Good question. Meanwhile, Timmy falls down and you get to put a band-aid on his leg; later he takes a bath and we are encouraged to "let Timmy have a swin before the water runs out... Swim, Timmy, swim!" The child safety/latchkey kid aspect is made a little bit creepier when we are asked to go into Mummy's purse and find a letter that she wants mailed to Daddy... whose address is in a different state(!) Now granted, back in '42 I'm sure we were meant to infer that Daddy was a traveling salesman or something... But one can't help but wonder if there's more to the story than meets the eye. Besides, why can't Mummy mail the letter herself? Is she in a drunken stupor in the other room? Paul and Judy crack the window open a couple of inches to say goodbye, and suddenly we find ourselves hurrying to get away... that house is kinda depressing! Get me outta here! (C-)

"Ten Dogs In The Window"
Written by Claire Masurel
Illustrated by Pamela Paparone
(North-South Books, 1997)

A fun 10-to-1 counting/subtraction book where ten dogs, all from different breeds, wait in a pet shop window to get picked out and adopted. It's also a nice guessing game: on one page we see a person walk up, perhaps a clown or a businessman, a jogger or a Jerry Garcia-ish hippie, and try and guess which, of the remaining dogs that person will pick. Nice artwork and nice concept... the rhyming text, while not as snappy or as strong as it might have been, is still pretty good. My kid really got into this one, at least for a while. (B+)

"Ten Little Lambs"
Written by Alice B. McGinty
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
(Dial Books/Penguin Putnam, 2003)

A cute counting/bedtime book as ten children at a sleepover transform, in one child's sleepy imagination, into ten little lambs who drop off, one by one, into sleep amidst all sorts of playing and mischief. There are a couple of rough patches in the rhyming text, but the artwork -- by eBoo founder, Melissa Sweet -- is delightful, packed with giddy details and visual storytelling. Each panel shows which lambs are awake and which have fallen asleep, as well as one or the other who yawns or gets droopy-eyed, sure to be konked out on the following page. A rich experience for image-oriented readers, and a fine way to usher in sleepytime as well. (B)

"Ten Red Apples: A Bartholemew Bear Counting Book"
Written by Virginia Miller
Illustrated by Virginia Miller
(Candlewick, 2002)

A disappointing, clumsily executed counting book in which little Bartholemew Bear gathers apples from a tree and makes them into a pie. In addition to the narrative (which is itself clumsy and a little hard to track), there is an unnecessary and rather distracting split-screen sidebar in which a bunch of apples which are not on the tree are to be counted as well. The book is poorly laid out and the material seems forced. Didn't work for me, or my kid. Oh, well. (C-)

"Ten Rosy Roses"
Written by Eve Merriam
Illustrated by Julia Gorton
(Harper Collins, 1999)

A pretty cool counting book, in which a patch of ten red roses is whittled down to zero, as ten young children each pick one. (At the book's end, they present all ten flowers to their new teacher, Ms. Jones, giving the book a nice, storylike twist...) When we first saw this book, I was a little leery of the highly stylized, cartoonlike artwork (similar to Daniel Kirk or Dan Yaccarino's work), but my daughter instantly responded to it, memorizing the names of each of the kids in the book and -- more importantly -- learning how to country backwards from ten. Helped by the book's simple yet effective rhymes (which always rhymes the first line with one of the numbers at the end of the second) she went from being pretty fuzzy about what comes after "four" to confidently rattling off the numbers in downward succession... (PS -- hey, if NASA is looking for a new announcer for their launches, I have someone in mind...) Anyway, this seems to have been pretty effective as a learning tool, at least in our neck of the woods... So I'd recommend it on that basis, for sure! (A-)

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