Hi there... This is the third 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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"That Makes Me Mad"
Written by Steve Kroll
Illustrated by Christine Davenier
(Sea Star, 2002)

A useful guide to the emotional life of small children, this is a nice book that helps children articulate strong feelings, and helps adults understand what's going on inside those busy, tiny little heads. A little girl goes through a series of "What really makes me mad is when..." statements, many of which will sound familiar to both parents and small children. In dramatic terms, this is a little stiff, but it provides a great opportunity to discuss some very charged issues, and help children build an emotional vocabulary so they can learn how to express their darker thoughts and solve the problems that roil them up. (B)

"Theodor And Mr. Balbini"
Written by Petra Mathers
Illustrated by Petra Mathers
(Harper & Row, 1988)

Wouldn't it be so cool if suddenly one day your pet could talk and tell you all the things that were on its mind? Yeah, you'd think so, wouldn't you? But when mild-mannered Mr. Balbini's black lab Theodor starts speaking up, all that he can do is complain and boss his human around... And he never stops talking! Yak, yak, yak, gripe, gripe, gripe. Quit giving me canned food... change the TV channel... let's walk someplace else today... Just as Mr. Balbini thinks he can't stand it any longer, Theodor finds a hobby -- French cooking -- and gets along so well with the teacher that he moves in with her. This is a very funny, very dry, very absurd shaggy dog story... You have to be on the right wavelength to enjoy it, but if you are, you'll love it. We did! (B+)

"There's A House Inside My Mommy"
Written by Giles Andreae
Illustrated by Vanessa Cabban
(Albert Whitman & Co, 2002)

An exemplary mommy-is-pregnant book, in which the parents tell their child that mommy has a new baby inside her, living in its own special house until it's ready to come out. The little boy accepts this explanation, then starts to wonder what life is like inside this tummy-house. When Mommy gets really big, he even starts to get concerned that there might not be enough room in there for his future sibling, and looks forward to the birth. It's a nice book, teaching children empathy for their siblings and maintains a thoroughly reassuring tine throughout, and it doesn't really fudge on the facts about Mommy being pregnant. If you're looking for a book to read to a future big-brother or big-sister, this one's a fine choice. (B+)

"Thesaurus Rex"
Written by Laya Steinberg
Illustrated by Debbie Harter
(Barefoot Books, 2003)

The love of language is encouraged in this brisk, goofy romp. A rambunctious young dinosaur goes through his day, and each activity he does is described four different ways (for instance, on one page, he frolics, rollicks, frisks and romps; on another he stretches, reaches, bends and extends...) I liked the concept more than the execution, but it might still inspire a few little folks to become word freaks. For a similar idea, but on a more advanced level, try Melissa Sweet's Carmine: A Little More Red. (B-)

"The Third-Story Cat"
Written by Leslie Baker
Illustrated by Leslie Baker
(Little, Brown & Co., 1987)

A gorgeously illustrated epic story of an indoor cat who escapes one day and has a big adventure in the park near her house, then comes back to curl up with the the little girl who "owns" her... This book perfectly captures the body language and attitude of a lissome calico cat, and the interior life of an innocent, vulnerable house pet. This should be like capnip to feline fans everywhere. (A)

"Thirsty Baby"
Written by Catherine Ann Cullen
Illustrated by David McPhail
(Little, Brown & Company, 2003)

An astonishingly parched toddler drains dry everything in his bath -- bottles, ponds and oceans -- then stops short of causing worldwide drought, announcing at last that he is full. The tone of the book is playful and absurd, and the meter and rhyme structure is very strong, which is always a pleasant surprise in this age of mediocre writing. Persnicketty parents may have qualms about the gluttony presented in the book -- particularly by the example provided of a baby drinking out of a bathtub or a park pond -- but if you're concerned about that kind of thing, you can always turn it around by saying things like "Yucky! He's drinking bathwater!" Of course, that might be taking things a little too seriously... This is obviously a silly, fantastical book, and any kid with a sense of humor should get a kick out of it. And, of course, David McPhail's artwork is always a treat -- he's great! A fun, funny book... recommended! (B)

"The Three Bears"
Adapted by Paul Galdone
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(Clarion, 1972)

A good, hippie-era retelling of this classic nursery tale... In Galdone's version, Goldilocks is kind of gangly and missing one of her teeth, and rather clearly a bit of a brat. The text goes a little more into depth about why what Goldilocks does is wrong, and why the bears were so trusting that they left their door unlocked. Another nice touch is that Galdone sets up that each bear has its own individual bowl, chair and bed... Kind of eases the surprise when we see these objects appear later on in the story... This is an okay version, although Goldilocks does look a little grotesque. (B-)

"The Three Billy Goats Gruff"
Adapted by Marcia Brown
Illustrated by Marcia Brown
(Harcourt Brace, 1957)

A remarkably grisly version of this old folk tale... Rather than merely knock the troll off the bridge, this billy goat gruff graphically dismembers him, poking out his eyes and reducing him to "bits, body and bones." (The rhyming line about how the goat has "two great big stones" might also raise a few eyebrows. Besides being rather gory, the text is also oddly crafted, and a bit difficult to plow through. The artwork is okay, but not so much so that you'd really need to read the book... Unless you're into bloodshed, you might be happier with other, more subtle versions... There are plenty to be found. (C-)

"Three Little Kittens"
Written by Marilyn Janovitz
Illustrated by Marilyn Janovitz
(North South, 2002)

A nice adaptation of this kooky nursery rhyme; the artwork is cartoonish and functional, and Janovitz comes up with a nice workaround for the weird closing lines about smelling a rat nearby... Instead of being afraid of the rat (as in other versions) here the kittens playfully chase the rat (which looks like a cute little mousy), short-circuiting the mildly upsetting undertone of the original version. This is a good version of this rhyme, one of my girl's favorites. (B)

"The Three Little Pigs"
Adapted by Paul Galdone
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
(Seabury Press, 1970)

A sturdy but rather disturbing version of this classic children's story, complete with all the scary, violent aspects. The big, bad wolf is pretty toothy and realistic, and the part where the third little pig boils him alive -- and actually eats him -- is a bit grotesque. I wouldn't read this one to my girl again (too violent), but less squeamish parents who just want to expose their kids to the classics might find this to be a good option. Still... the pig actually eats the wolf! Gross!! (C)

Written by Hans Christian Andersen
Adapted by Sindy McKay
Illustrated by Quentin Greban
(Treasure Bay, 2007)

A gorgeous, joyful adaptation of this Hans Christian Andersen classic. Belgian illustrator Quentin Greban (one of my faves!) crafts a beautiful, evocative vision of this magical, though slightly creepy, story -- the perfect look for a classic fairy tale... The text, by educational writer Sindy McKay, is designed to encourage children to read along with adults -- it includes prompts for both adult and child readers, but it's not necessary at all -- an older reader can still easily read the book for smaller children and it will still be very enjoyable. We've read a few different Thumbelinas, and this is by far and away out favorite. Highly recommended! (A)

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