Book Review

Random Review #5: Curious George and the Puppies

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf. It should be noted that these reviews are highly sarcastic, and in no way, shape or form should be taken seriously. I appreciate the effort anyone puts into writing a book, unless of course you’ve written a terrible book, in which case I will shame you publicly.

This week we are reviewing a book from the old classic Curious George series, Curious George and the Puppies. While I’m not sure about the popularity of this specific book, I can say it’s pretty popular in our house because it has pictures of dogs, which Baby 1.0 is currently absolutely obsessed with. Case and point, the following picture of Baby 1.0 walking her plastic dog at the park yesterday.

Fi at the park

Nothing to see here. Just a girl and her dog.

Curious George and the Puppies appears to be by Margret and H.A. Rey, although it was copyrighted in 1998, two years after her death, and 20 years after her husband’s death. I don’t know, maybe they had a ghost writer (get it, a ghost writer? Okay, I’ll stop)?

The book is your typical Curious George outline: Clueless man in strangely large yellow hat takes George out to do something mundane, forgets he is hanging out with a MONKEY, and trusts him to do something totally ridiculous. This begs the question, who is this man, and why is he treating this monkey like a child? A little googling will tell you George was captured by the man with the yellow hat, and taken across the ocean to go live in a zoo. Obviously, somewhere along their trip, the man with the yellow hat must have started feeling exceedingly guilty, hence his proclivity to let George now do whatever he wants, allowing him to behave like an ill-mannered tyrant completely unchecked. Typical modern day parent if I’ve ever seen one.

hat

Considering he trapped him, and basically kidnapped him, the man with the yellow hat should feel guilty.

In this particular adventure, George and the man with the yellow hat go to the park and find a kitten. They decide to take the kitten to the animal shelter, which fits the typical pattern of behavior for the man with the yellow hat; find animal, put it in a cage. They bring the kitten to the shelter, where they are greeted outside by the director of the shelter like they are bringing a six-figure donation, rather than a single kitten. Because if there’s one thing animal shelters need more of, it’s kittens, said no animal shelter ever.

The man with the yellow hat tells George to hang out, alone, while he and the director “sign some paperwork” in her office with the door closed. Obviously they are boning. There is literally no other possible explanation.

George takes this opportunity to wreck shop. He ignores his instructions to “stay here and don’t be too curious,” and opens up a cage with 11 puppies, who then escape and terrorize all the animals. This interrupts the man with the yellow hat and the director, who emerge from the office with genuine looks of surprise to discover a monkey, left alone in an animal shelter, has caused mischief.

Director

This level of surprise is only acceptable for things that are actually a surprise. Like opening a bag of candy and finding a fruit bat, or maybe falling in a sink hole.

In the end, George is the hero because after he let all the puppies out, they led the director to the missing puppy, which I haven’t mentioned until this moment. There was one puppy who was missing. Spoiler alert: they found it. Then, perhaps being inspired by the true story of Koko and the Kitten, George adopts one of the puppies.

koko

If you feel like being VERY SAD, read the story of Koko and her kitten. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

So there you have it. Baby 1.0 loves this book, and can sit through most of it most of the time, which says a lot because it’s 24 pages. I may be kind of a sucker for dogs, too, so I’m going to give it a 3.1/5.

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Image credits:

Trapped George: http://mentalfloss.com/sites/default/legacy/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/hat.jpg

Surprise!: http://user.xmission.com/~daina/ebola/Curious%20George%20and%20the%20Ebola%20Virus18.jpg

Koko: http://www.lifewithcats.tv/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/koko.jpg

Cover image: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BFpR8zkhL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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Random Review #4: Barnyard Bath

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

Today was a little tricky, because the first book Baby 1.0 picked off her bookshelf was The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. She loves this book. This is not a joke. When I picked it up to consider if I was cool enough to review a field guide in a children’s book review (I am not), she crashed to the floor with the force of a meteor, and threw her usual 3 minute and 17 second tantrum that ended in us brushing up on our local sea ducks. Feel free to quiz me on the preferred mating ground of the King Eider if you have any questions.

photo

Baby 1.0 just doing a little light reading from her favorite field guide

Her second choice came from neither of her two bookshelves, but instead from her stash of bath toys, where she selected Barnyard Bath, by Sandra Boynton. I’m not going to lie, I totally love Sandra, or Sandy as I like to call her. She is, to me, exactly what I want in a children’s author. She is funny. She rhymes. She is playful. She avoids trying to shove some super important message into a book using owls to illustrate the security one may feel in a traditional nuclear family. My only complaint is in Barnyard Bath, the nostrils on the cow look like an upside down pair of very large breasts.

nostrils

These nostrils look more like boobs than most boobs I’ve seen.

This is a pretty basic book. It’s rubber and came with a kid-friendly wash cloth so they can clean all of the animals. Not much to say about it, other than it’s a fun way to teach your kid that the purpose of a bath is to actually get clean. This idea of “getting clean” in the tub isn’t something Baby 1.0 is too keen on. In her beautiful blue eyes, the sole purpose of spending 15 minutes in the tub is to try and drink her weight in the body-flavored, luke-warm tea she is steeping in. She will stop at nothing to slurp down mouthful after mouthful of this sweet concoction that is usually 1 part pee to 10 parts tap water. This book provides at the very least a temporary reprieve from our nightly battle routine.

The only thing I don’t understand about the book, other than the giant, pink, breast-nostrils, is the book seems to be missing a page, or more accurately it seems like they printed the book a page short, and had to put the last page on the back of the book, along with all the other stuff that normally goes on the back of a book. What’s up with that, Sandy? Somebody get a little lazy in the publishing department, or are you trying to save a buck?

photo (2)

How much does one extra page cost, Sandy?

 

Suspicious missing back page aside, we love this book. Major bonus points for being able to take it in the tub. I give it a 4/5.

Random Review #3: Good Dog, Carl

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

This week Baby 1.0 picked another one of her all time favorites, Good Dog, Carl, by Alexandra Day. This is another oldie but goodie (we seem to have a lot of those), with the first edition being published in 1986. Surprisingly, there is no teal, and the mother in the book is tastefully dressed and suspiciously lacking a bang wave. This clearly indicates she must be French or something, because no average American mother in 1986 didn’t have either a bang wave or a sweet perm. Or both.

1Ai0vQ5

It’s an almost bang wave, and a bangin’ perm. Gotta love the ’80’s!

Let’s start with the title, Good Dog, Carl. Can we just sort of touch on what a bizarre name choice “Carl” is for a dog? After working in the veterinary field for nearly a decade, I can honestly say I didn’t come across a single animal named Carl. Or even any people named Carl, for that matter, except the kid on the Walking Dead, which I think we can all agree should be named something more realistic, like Walter. Odd name choice aside, you see Carl smiling from the cover, as only a Rottweiler can, with big jowls and squinty eyes, his big pink tongue hanging out of an open mouth that contains no teeth. With all this talk about breed discrimination, nobody would be scared of Rotties if they all looked like toothless Carl.

Good_Dog_Carl

Suspiciously missing all of his teeth, but smiling none the less.

Fun fact about this book, it only has 12 words total in it. This being a book from my own childhood, I did not remember this, and the first time I went to read it to Baby 1.0, I thought maybe we had a received a book that was accidentally printed without text. Apparently, this is just one of those stories you have to narrate yourself, which is something I’m getting considerably better at each time I read it 15 times a day.

The book starts off with the mom telling Carl she’s taking off, and he’s on baby duty. This seems like an extreme form of whatever the opposite of attachment parenting is, but again, maybe this is the French way of teaching your kid how to be resilient? I know there was a popular book floating around a year or so ago about how the French raise their kids, but I didn’t read it because T.V.

Mom leaves, and right away Carl is like “Hey Baby. How about you and me go do some crazy shit?” which of course the baby is totally down with because he thinks his mom is boring. Whether or not she is boring should probably the least of his concerns considering she left him with a dog as a babysitter, but whatever, I’m not judging.

out of crib

“Climb on Baby. Let’s go live a little”

The baby crawls onto Carl’s back and they go and jump on the bed. This doesn’t bother me so much because even with the popular cautionary tale “No More Monkeys Jumping On The Bed,” we still sort of jump on the bed from time to time. After jumping on the bed, they put on makeup, which also seems pretty harmless. I think this is where Carl is trying to win the baby’s trust, like “It’s cool, Baby. See? I know you think this is bad, but aren’t you having fun?”

Then things get serious. Carl puts the baby down the laundry shoot, which could go wrong in so many ways, but lucky for the baby, his mom doesn’t ever do laundry so the bin is full, and provides him a soft place to land. Carl retrieves him and in an attempt to one-up himself, puts the baby in a fish tank to either teach him to swim, or give him salmonella.

laundry shoot

“Down you go Baby. Try not to die.”

I have to think the baby expressed some sort of grievance about nearly drowning, because after that Carl backs off on the risky behaviors. He puts some music on and dances, and then takes the baby into the kitchen for a little snack. He fills the baby up with all kinds of goodies, including chocolate milk, cookies and grapes. The baby is obviously dirty as all hell now, and probably smells like a fish tank, so Carl takes him upstairs and bathes him. He drys him off with a hair dryer, and dumps him back in his crib. Then, like a good dog, he cleans up the messes they made and plops himself down next to the crib just as the mom returns.

Good-Dog-Carl-blowdryer

Show me a dog who can bathe and blow dry a baby, and I will show you a rainbow of joy leaping out of my, um, ears.

It seems obvious to me now, after writing all this out, that this book clearly is not about a dog at all, but rather her deadbeat husband named Carl, or her crazy Aunt Edna who smokes Menthols. Regardless, we both really like the book. I give it a 4/5.

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Image credits:

Cover photo: http://www.beyondthecarseat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Good_Dog_Carl.jpg

80’s Mom: http://i.imgur.com/1Ai0vQ5.jpg

Laundry: http://i037.radikal.ru/0909/8d/d6b3760e77f3.jpg

Crib escape: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_AjI3qIR27fU/TGXtXD-oUSI/AAAAAAAAEqk/_bGoigFVFUs/s1600/2b6fe9e8ff01.jpg

Blow dryer: http://amybronwenzemser.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Good-Dog-Carl-blowdryer.jpg

Random Review #2: Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

This week Baby 1.0 picked yet another one of her go-to favorite reads: Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens. You can say to her “Baby 1.0, go get Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens” and she will drop whatever she is doing and find it. Part of me thinks this is a clear indication that she is a genius, but it could also be she just likes it that much.

This book doesn’t even have an author, presumably because all told it only has 44 words in it. I say more than 44 words to myself in the shower on days that I shower. The book does, however, have an illustrator named Kathy Wilburn, who absolutely nails the pictures, in a 70’s elementary school kind of way.

This book is another oldie but goody, first published in 1987. It’s a Golden book, and is part of a series that includes some other riveting reads such as Tiny Tot’s Busy Day and Tiny Tot’s Toys. I haven’t read the others, but feel strongly that this is the best this series has to offer.

The book opens with the observation that “puppies are soft and cuddly.” It follows that up with “so are kittens.” Being someone who has worked with puppies and kittens for nearly a decade, I feel it’s my civic duty to inform you this is not always true. I’ll give you soft, but cuddly? I have some scars on my arms that would beg to differ. But whatever, let’s just chalk that one up to more lies we tell our kids. It’s in good company with Santa, the Tooth Fairy and why Gary the goldfish had to be released into the wild via your toilet.

photo

The book goes on to show some mischievous kittens and puppies wrecking shop in someone’s house. Again, we have young animals playing with a ball of yarn, just like in Goodnight Moon. No yarn, people! I’ve seen those strings pulled from the intestines of your precious pets. It’s not a pretty sight!

photo 3

After causing an indoor ruckus, the puppy and kitten go outside to terrorize the insect world. The kitten sets its sights on a delicate butterfly while the puppy goes after a beetle. Probably a stink beetle. The kitten is prancing around with a blue ribbon around its neck, which makes me wonder, did our good friend Kathy the illustrator ever have a cat? You put anything around a kitten’s neck and they will turn into a tornado until they get it off.

photo 1

The book finishes up with an idyllic scene where four kittens are playing with one puppy. This is Baby 1.0’s favorite page because this is where I get to say “Yip! Yip! Mew! Mew!” which she thinks is the best thing in the whole world, which in turn makes me think this book is the best book in the whole world.

photo 2

So there you have it. I actually love this book. It’s simple as can be, with dorkus drawings but I guess that what makes it so endearing. I give it a 3.72/5.

Random Review #1 “Goodnight Moon”

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

This week we will be taking a closer look at the old classic “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown, pictures by Clement Hurd.

Let’s start with the fact that this book was first published in 1947. 1947! World War II had virtually just ended. People smoked and drank with abandon. The only Spam you ever got from your Grandma was in the form of Sunday dinner. Yet 67 years later, this book is still so popular that we got multiple copies of it when Baby 1.0 was born.

spam-family-of-products

Upon first glance, one may just assume this book is a hodgepodge of random, semi-rhyming prose, with a bland color scheme and an unimaginative story line. And upon digging a little deeper, you will discover it is indeed just that, but in a strangely endearing way that kids apparently really like. Or at least that my kid really likes, as per her request, we read this book several times in a row, many days out of the week.

Some highlights. The book pays homage to many other children’s classics, with pictures on the wall of The Cow Jumping Over The Moon, and The Three Bears. There is also a picture of a bunny fly-fishing for another bunny with a carrot, which I found rather disturbing at face value until I realized it’s just a reference to another book by the same author, The Runaway Bunny. Actually it’s still kind of disturbing, but alas, I digress. The book is simple, and doesn’t have a bunch of flowery non-sense language, which I really like, because you can read it when you are half asleep, and it doesn’t feel like you are trying to solve the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle.

goodnight moon2

But the book brings up a lot of questions. Like, who is the quiet old lady and why is she letting the kittens wrestle if the baby bunny is supposed to go to bed? Kittens are loud! She better be saying “hush” to them, or better yet, just kick them out of the room. And take that string away before they swallow it and need surgery, unless you have $3000 extra dollars laying around for emergency veterinary care. Also, what is a bowl full of mush doing on the bedside table? If that sits there overnight, you might as well throw the bowl away because you are NEVER going to get that mush out of there. Even more importantly, why would you say goodnight to nobody? Now you are in my head, and I’m wondering “Oh crap, is someone here? Did I lock the door? Did I lock the other door? I should get up and check. But then I’ll get cold. But if I don’t check, I will lay here all night and worry.”

nobody1

All in all, for how much we read the book, I actually like it quite a bit. I was glad when she picked this one for our first Random Review, and I’d happily pass it along to another family someday so they too can wonder what the bunny parents were thinking when the selected a room with a fireplace for their nursery. I give it a 3.62/5.

 

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Cover photo:  en.wikipedia.org

Spam: http://www.hormelfoods.com/~/media/HormelFoods/Images/Brands/Product%20Shots/High%20Res%20Product%20Shots/spam-family-of-products.ashx

Goodnight Moon age 1: juneberry-lane.blogspot.com

Goodnight Moon page 2: exampleschildrensbooks.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/nobody1.jpg