Hi there... This is the fifth 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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"Toads And Diamonds"
Retold by Charlotte Huck
Illustrated by Anita Lobel
(Greenwillow, 1996)

An interesting twist on the Cinderella-style wicked-stepmother story, mixed this time with a bit of the goose that laid the golden eggs. A young girl named Renee lives with her bossy and selfish stepmother and stepsister, who treat her poorly and make her do all the chores. One day, while walking to the well to haul fresh water back home, she is being kind to small animals, etc. when she meets an old woman who asks for a drink. Renee politely obliges and is rewarded with a magic spell that makes precious gems and fragrant flowers come out of her mouth whenever she speaks. Personally, I think that sounds a little uncomfortable, but the greedy stepmother is jealous and dispatches her daughter to go get all magic-mouthed as well. The stepsister is so foul-tempered and self-centered, though, that she walks through the forest terrorizing the animals and is rude to the fairy (who now appears as a young woman) and is instead cursed with toads and snakes that pour from her mouth whenever she speaks. The stepsister is too awful to ever overcome her curse -- she lives the rest of her life in exile in a cave, with reptiles spewing forth night and day, while Renee, of course, meets a handsome prince who falls in love and marries her. Also an old, old fairy tale, this is certainly an interesting twist on a familiar theme, indeed, it's a much blunter morality lesson, without the Disney sugarcoating... The artwork emphasizes the grotesqueness of the stepmother and stepsister, but generally is pretty nice and effective. If you're into these sort of fairy tales, this is a fine edition to explore. (B)

"To & Fro, Fast & Slow"
Written by Durga Bernhard
Illustrated by Durga Bernhard
(Walker & Company, 2001)

An "issue book" that bogs down under the weight of its own self-importance, as well as its cluttered, confusing presentation. On the surface it's about contrasts and opposites, but slowly you realize it's about a girl shuttling between her two divorced parents -- one lives in town, the other in the country, etc. The trouble is that the story isn't presented very clearly, either in the text or visually -- you're just expected to be 100% on the author's wavelength and intuitively "get" what she's telling you. If not, oh well. I just thought this book was difficult to connect with, emotionally, aesthetically or intellectually. I didn't get it, and I'm not so sure the failing was all mine. Still, I might not be the target audience: if I were (still) an eight-year-oldish kid with divorced parents, it might have more resonance. (C-)

"Toes Are To Tickle"
Written by Shen Roddie
Illustrated by Kady McDonald Denton
(Tricycle Press, 1997)

A sweet book about what everyday objects -- like toes, mirrors, boxes, purses and shoes -- are for. The fun comes in the slightly off-kilter, goofball tweaks that are given in both the text and artwork. This book has a rich sense of humor, and you feel that you are sharing a bunch of private jokes with a likeable family. There's a nice narrative flow, too, which makes the words roll off your tongue. Recommended! (B+)

"Tom And Pippo's Day" (1988)
"Tom And In The Garden" (1988)
"Tom And Pippo Read A Story" (1988)
"Tom And Pippo Go Shopping"
"Pippo Gets Lost" (1988)
"Tom And Pippo Go For A Walk"
"Tom And Pippo Make A Mess" (1988)
Written by Helen Oxenbury
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
(Aladdin Books)

A little boy, Tom, takes his toy monkey, Pippo, everywhere, and sees the world through Pippo's eyes. They have all kinds of tiny adventures, in everyday situations that little ones will recognize right away. This series seems near endless -- maybe I'll add the other titles as time permits -- but if your kid likes one of these books, doubtless they will love seeing more. (You might also try Vanessa Cabban's Bertie And Small series, which has much the same format.)

"Too Big!"
Written by Claire Masurel
Illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama
(Chronicle Books, 1999)

When Charlie wins a carnival game and gets to pick out a prize, he picks the biggest one he can find, a blue-and-white striped dinosaur named Big Tex that's taller than Charlie's dad. When they get home, Charlie's parents tell him he'll have to keep Tex in his room -- he's just to big to be anywhere else! Tex doesn't get to go anywhere else, either: too big for the park, too big to go to the grocery store, etc. But he's not too big to go to the doctor's office when Charlie gets a cold... (Which is good, because Charlie's other toys hid when it was time to go!) A cute book about how kids bond with their toys and use them to express their feelings... I especially liked the scenes of Charlie taking his bunny and teddy bear out on errands; parents and children will both enjoy this reflection of the day to day innocence of little kids and toddlers. Sweet. (B)

"The Town Mouse And The Country Mouse"
Written by Helen Craig
Illustrated by Helen Craig
(Candlewick, 1992)

Helen Craig, the magnificent illustrator of the original Angelina Ballerina books, keeps things in a mousy mode for this warm retelling of the ancient Aesop fable about the town mouse and the country mouse, whose lifestyles and tastes are quite different. Charlie is a the mellow, unhurried country mouse who likes nothing better than to watch sunsets after a simple meal of fruits and grain, while Tyler is a go-getter city critter who likes to sneak into see scary movies and top the evening off eating the leftovers off of fancy banquet tables. The story follows much the same arc as the original fable: Tyler takes Charlie to see the bright lights of town, and Charlie decides city life just ain't for him. What Craig brings to the table is her fine-lined, densely detailed artwork, along with her affinity for cute lil' mice -- you'll feel as attached to these guy as to any of the mousies in the Angelina series. Nice one! (A)

"Train Song"
Written by Harriet Ziefert
Illustrated by Donals Saaf
(Orchard Books, 2000)

One of the nicer "train books" you'll find out there... Each morning a little boy sits high on a mountainside and watches a freight train roll by, through farmlands and past whistlestops. He brings his own toy train with him, and once the big train rolls away, starts to count the hours until he can see the train again. Nice artwork... the only trouble I have with this book is the depictation of the livestock -- yeah, trains carry animals, but I doubt many of them are as happy about it as the pigs and cows in this book. Still, what are ya gonna do? Give your kid a PETA handbook to balance things out? Overall, this one's a winner... little children who are into trains will love this. (A-)

"The Trouble With Baby"
Written by Marisabina Russo
Illustrated by Marisabina Russo
(Greenwillow, 2003)

Sam and Hannah are close siblings, with lots of games that they play together and secrets they share, but when Hannah gets a new doll for her birthday and starts doing everything with "Baby," Sam feels left out. His jealousy escalates until finally the two children stop talking to each other. Of course, in the end, they make up and each kid adjusts a bit to make the other happy... This story is similar to Katherine's Doll, by Elizabeth Winthrop, with emotional notes that ring true throughout. I wouldn't recommend a steady diet of this story, but if you're exploring these sort of negative emotions or having a similar problem in your family, you might like this book. Recommended. (A)

"The Trouble With Dogs... Said Dad"
Written by Bob Graham
Illustrated by Bob Graham
(Candlewick, 2007)

The much-welcome sequel to Graham's 2001 classic, Let's Get A Pup! Said Kate. Kate's family is back, with two new members: lovable, lumpy Rosie and the irrepressible, untrainable Dave, two dogs they'd rescued from the pound eight months earlier. An older dog, Rosie is totally mellow and housebroken, but Dave the pup is a holy terror, running through flower patches, tearing people's clothes and -- gasp! -- eating cupcakes off their plates. So, the laid-back slacker family once again turns to the phone book and calls up Pup Breakers, whose top dog trainer, codenamed the Brigadier, comes to bring poor Dave in to heel. The Brigadier is a no-nonsense, tough-love, discipline-first kinda guy, and a poor match for the softer-than-marshmallows familymembers... Or for poor Dave! After his first lesson, the puppy falls into a funk, and loses his "spark." Naturally, Kate (and her parents) tell the Brigadier his services will no longer be required, but he takes it surprisingly well. Here's another great book from Graham: Kate and her family have return with al their lovable quirks intact -- these are people you'll recognize, the tattooed, scruffy, sideburned hipsters who live down the street. Oh, and their dogs are pretty cute, too! (For more books by this author, see our Bob Graham profile page) (A+)

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