Hi there... This is the first page of the Letter "V" 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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Written by Carol Carrick
Illustrated by Paddy Bouma
Somewhat heavy thematically, this farm story starts out with a little girl pleading with her mother not to go to work in the morning -- it is Valentine's Day, after all! -- but Mama eventually detatches herself and leaves little Heather on the farm with her Grandma. As it happens, on that very day, one of the sheep gives birth to two healthy, wooly lambs and, on closer examination, to a smaller, weaker "bummer" lamb, which the ewe won't take care of. From here on out, this book is a lot like Kim Lewis's Emma's Lamb, in which a wide-eyed little girl takes care of a foundling lamb, although here the possibility of the animal's death is much more explicitly dealt with. The story may be a little too intense for smaller children (I skimmed over some of the more upsetting dialogue), but everthing works out in the end. Good book about farm life, with an added gloss of single-parent/working mother drama thrown in for good measure. (B)
"The Very Best Doll"
Written by Julia Noonan
Illustrated by Julia Noonan
A very girly book, about a child who gets a fancy new doll for her birthday and promptly throws over her good, old, dearly beloved rag doll, Nell, only to discover later at night that she still needs to snuggle her old dollie in order to fall asleep. We're not doll crazy in our household, but this book got a good, polite reception. I liked the book's effective, lilting rhyme structure and its sentimental message -- Noonan affirms the value of the comfortable and old, while also acknowledging the allure of the flashy, accessorized newcomer. If your child is really into dolls (or tea parties), then they should go totally koo-koo over this book. (B+)
"The Very Hungry Caterpillar"
Written by Eric Carle
Illustrated by Eric Carle
An enduring classic which that acts on many levels... A colorful, pop-uppish layout for a nature parable showing the caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis, with text that teaches numbers, days of the week and how eating too much junk food can give you a tummyache. Plus, what pretty pictures! Each version has its strengths -- I kinda like the board book version best! (A)
"The Very Kind Rich Lady And Her One Hundred Dogs"
Written by Chinlun Lee
Illustrated by Chinlun Lee
A funny, goofy story about a woman who has one hundred dogs... Well, "story" may not be the right word for it, since the main point of this book is simply going through and naming each and every one of the dogs (and that takes a long time!), along with a quick runthough of the activities involved with taking care of so many pooches. Not much of a plot, nor much personality comes through... Nonetheless, the combination of dozens of deftly rendered, frisky critters and their gazillion fanciful names makes this a nice, quick read... The sounds flow quickly by and you can have fun pointing out individual dogs and trying to find them later on other pages. But beyond that, there really isn't much to this book -- it just is what it is: a lighthearted lark, and nothing more. This probably isn't for everyone, but for the right readers, it'll be lots of fun. I liked it, particularly the artwork, although it took a couple of tries before my daughter really warmed up to it. Afterwards, though, she'd really get into it and request it at storytime... (B)
"The Very Smart Pea And The Princess-To-Be"
Written by Mini Grey
Illustrated by Mini Grey
(Random House, 2003)
Witness if you will, the story of the Princess and the Pea, retold from the perspective of the pea itself. The goofy conceptual hook is a little abstract, perhaps, for smaller kids to get into, but the book does have a loopy charm. Mainly it's due to the artwork, with is graphically strong and distinctive -- the text itself has its clunky moments and inconsistencies (the pea tells us that it was planted less than a year ago, but also that the Prince searched for a year to find the right bride... Uh, which is it?) Also, it's hard to overcome the inherent sexism of the original story, although this version is meant to be a feminist reworking, with a dewy-eyed, bookish Prince hooking up with a rugged, hands-on gardener, rather than a mail-order Princess... Anyway, this book was okay, although it didn't totally wow us. (B)
Written by Angela Johnson
Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
(Dial Books, 2004)
One of the finest books about young people developing their love of music... The heroine here is a girl named Violet, who discovers her musical inclinations while still in the nursery crib in the delivery ward. She spend her entire childhood trying to meet up with like-minded children, but never finds anyone with the same passion... That is, until one day in the park when she meets three other teenagers and forms a band with them. There are several nice touches to this book... The first is the general gist of the plot -- music, yay! I also liked some of the little touches, such as how the author gives equal importance to other interests: when she goes into kindergarten, Violet notes that different kids excel at different things -- some like painting, others read books, etc. I also like how the book never defines what kind of music Violet and her friends play, leaving it to readers to fill in the blans themselves. Nice artwork, too, full of vibrancy and good cheer. Highly recommended! (A-)
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