I was offered a review copy and asked to review this charming kids’ book by the
publisher, TaleBlade Press, which was kind enough to send me an actual hard copy of the book (remember my aversion to ebook copies of picture books?). My kids were a little confused as to why the kids’ book that came in the mail was for ME and not them, haha!
Written by B.C.R. Fegan and illustrated by Lenny Wen, The Day that A Ran Away–published just yesterday, September 1, 2018!–is an alphabet picture book with simple, approachable text and engaging illustrations. It tells the tale of why Jet doesn’t have his homework – all the letters ran away! As one of a plethora of alphabet books for young kids, the text itself doesn’t really stand out to me. It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing either. What I DO like about it is the moral lesson–Jet’s teacher plays along with his “the letters ran away” ruse but tells him at the end that now the letters need to be punished for their crime… and Jet has to write them all 20 times instead of one! That’ll teach kids to lie about their homework, right?
The illustrations are what bring the book to the next level. They’re not perfect–for instance, my kids did not recognize that the “O” was, in fact, an “O” (“What’s THAT, Mommy?”), and I can’t say I blame them for that. Overall, though, each page is dedicated to one letter and is filled with little details to spark conversation and reinforce the letter: for instance, the “U” is a unicorn, sitting under an umbrella, with a ukulele on the ground next to her.
It’s a book I’m happy to add to our collection. For my almost-2-year-old it’s a great way to repeat the alphabet while the colorful illustrations hold her attention; for my almost-5-year-old, the complexity of the illustrations will give us a lot of practice matching objects with their beginning letters.
Thank you to TaleBlade Press for the review copy; check out Amazon to buy yourself a copy!
I got both of these books last year sometime via NetGalley and had skimmed them myself but hadn’t read them to my kids until just this week. I can’t say I was super impressed with either, unfortunately. Now, let me say that I do think some of that comes from reading picture books on my Kindle – I’ve done it a handful of times now and I’m not planning to continue. It’s just not a format conducive to enjoying a picture book, in my opinion. I would LOVE to review more kids books, but they have to be hard copy or I can’t get into them. To my kids it’s “special” to read on Mommy’s Kindle, so they want to do more of it but… ugh.
So, everybody loves Rainbow Fish, right? What’s NOT to love about the original? You Can’t Win Them All, Rainbow Fish is a new(ish) (2017) book in the Rainbow Fish series and aims to teach another moral lesson — in this case, how not to be a sore loser, basically. Most kids are familiar with Rainbow Fish (I think each of my kids has come home from school with Rainbow Fish artwork at least once), so it’s a great way to keep them engaged and learning through a familiar character, but to me this one lacked the charm of the original. Worse, to me it seemed a little forced. Perhaps I’m remembering the original too rosily (is that a word?), but this just didn’t measure up for me. The kids were engaged, but haven’t asked to read it again. So, I give it two stars and I think I’d get a similar opinion from the kids.
The concept behind this book is fantastic – but at the risk of sounding repetitive, reading it on a Kindle is NOT. We live near DC, and though we don’t take the kids downtown much they were familiar enough with the landmarks to recognize them and get excited about places they’d been. They were especially thrilled with the page about the National History Museum because my husband took them there last week. That said, black and white pictures on a tiny screen made it virtually impossible to find the monsters in the pictures. The text, to me, was, well… fine. It’s a great introduction to DC landmarks and a potentially fun and engaging format for teaching young kids, but to me it falls into that very big basket of kids books that are just so-so and don’t particularly need to be revisited. Another two-star read.
So, on that cheery note I’m going to wrap up. I usually don’t post negative reviews because why? But these came from NetGalley and I figured it’s better to follow through and review even if it’s negative… so there you have it. Next time I write I’ll have something more positive to say.
When I requested John Powell’s Saint George: Rusty Knight and Monster Tamer from NetGalley sometime last year, I confess I totally thought it was going to be a story of the legend of St. George, who is often portrayed as a slayer of dragons. That, of course, wasn’t the case at all (ha, oops!), but it was a really enjoyable read. Part of the novelty for my daughter was reading together on my Kindle (ooohhh! exciting!), but she really did enjoy the book and so did I.
The Goodreads synopsis is super short:
Humorous tales about an impoverished knight in old England who discovers a way to tame the great variety of monsters that roam the land in the days of Good King Freddie the Umteenth and his prime minister Merlin the Whirlin.
“Humorous” is the perfect word to describe the story. If I remember correctly, Powell says in the beginning of the book that he originally came up with these stories as bedtime stories for his kids – and you can tell! They’re just funny and perfectly geared toward little kids. They follow a predictable structure (all of them start with “Now it was in the days of Good King Freddie…”) and in each story Saint George has to take on some ridiculous monster problem or another – which usually can be solved by providing the monsters with the magical, monster-taming marmorguglehupf cake (my daughter thought that word was hilarious).
The stories are full of all sorts of absurdities with names just as outlandish as marmorguglehupf cake, ideas like George’s “armor-on week” and “armor-off week” (during which he sleeps – for the whole week!), and other silly, non-sensical things (like a king who can’t read!). The crazy names and nonsense action reminded me a good deal of Roald Dahl, and prompted the same kind of laughter from my daughter as did The BFG. There were only two drawbacks for me with the books: 1) each story was a little too long to be a bedtime read-aloud but it didn’t work to break them up so we just pushed through a whole story in each sitting; and 2) there was one entire story that REALLY is not suited for American kids – or their parents! We just couldn’t follow the thread on playing cricket (our loss, though – I’m sure to a British kid the story would’ve been as hilarious as the rest).
All in all, I’d give it 4 stars and definitely recommend it! I think it’ll be another year or two before my next daughter is ready for it, but I’ll look forward to rereading the silliness with her when she’s ready!