Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: A Crooked Kind of Perfect

A Crooked Kind of Perfect
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a sound middle grade / tween book. In some ways, it reminds me of Kate De Goldi's 10 PM Question [b:The 10 PM Question|7739858|The 10 PM Question|Kate De Goldi||6145976]. In this case, it is the dad, who is the agoraphobic who ends up baking as an occupation.

Part of the reason I am not giving the book 4 stars is that I was never convinced that Zoe really wanted to play the piano, rather than the organ. And the book really hangs on this premise. She wanted the glitter that goes with performing on the piano, but to go through all of what is in the story, I needed to be more convinced that she really wanted to play music, especially PIANO music.

Nevertheless, the rest of the story is worthwhile. I liked her and her dad's relationship with Wheeler and the various school-related incidents. And, her relationship with her mother was an interesting side-plot.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: Das Doppelte Lottchen

Das Doppelte Lottchen
Das Doppelte Lottchen by Erich Kästner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this audiobook, although it was shorter than I expected. I don't think it was abridged (Audible described it as "ungekürtz".) It was not the version for the Kinofilm.

When I was a child, there was a fascination with twins. I remember fondly the stories about the Bobbsey Twins [b:The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport|856112|The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport (Bobbsey Twins, #1)|Laura Lee Hope||841594] and also the movie The Parent Trap. I never knew that The Parent Trap was based on this story, or at least the idea.

I agree with Gundula", that this book is more realistic with regard to the problems that happen when parents mishandle divorce and the separation of siblings and especially twins. Since this book is written for and about children in the 8 to 12 year old age group (my opinion only), it doesn't go into depth about the anger and frustration that the children must have felt - it uses gentler allusions instead.

I think the parents actually got off a bit light. Had this been written for slightly older children, I think there would have been more justifiable anger and some lingering difficulties.

Still, I enjoyed it and may actually look up the book versions.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The White BicycleThe White Bicycle by Rob Lewis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I ordered this book from the library, thinking that I was getting the book by Brenna that just got a Newbery Honor. It is a short read, so I read it anyway. The illustrations for the book are quite nice, but the premise is a bit worrisome to me. The boy and his dad take his old rusty bike to the dump, where it is found and used by a succession of other people. Each person on the way uses the bike and then somehow loses it. The next person finds it and takes it for his/her own use. It is this last part that is problematic. It is never even hinted at along the way that it might not be right to simply take the bicycle, just because it is there and no one seems to be using it. I can see taking it from the dump, but after that, no one tries to find the owner - they just take it and use, then lose it. In the end, a bicycle repair person finds the bike, cleans it up and re-paints it and the original owner buys the refurbished bike back. Given that many kids think it is OK to just take things that are lying around, e.g., in a classroom, I am uncomfortable with this aspect of the story.

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Review: The Three Little Pigs Buy the White House

The Three Little Pigs Buy the White House
The Three Little Pigs Buy the White House by Dan Piraro

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, which pokes fun at President George W. Bush and his cronies. The reason I give it only 3 stars is that the joke went on just a bit too long. Timing is of the essence in humor and I think that an ever so slightly shorter book might have worked better.

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Review: Burka Babes

Burka BabesBurka Babes by Peter de Wit
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a little conflicted about giving this book such a high rating, as I am not sure all of the cartoon strips are culturally sensitive. But they are funny and they don't seem mean-spirited. I am adding this to my collection of international comics with pleasure.

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Book about French Kids' Eating Habits

I have posted this on my book blog, but I am posting it here, too, because I think the review deals with some important education issues, too. This issues include teaching kids about nutrition and foods.

French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy EatersFrench Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I do not have young children any more, I enjoyed reading this book. As a substitute teacher, I go to many different schools and I have previously taught regularly in quite a few more and I am not happy with the eating habits I see kids developing. It started with water. There was a big push to have kids drink more water and since the water from drinking fountains was often not very good, kids started bringing their own water bottles. Then kids would substitute juice for plain water, which soon was switched out for energy drinks. The morning milk and cookies snack, became the morning juice and crackers snack. Then came the decision that kids should determine when they were hungry and thirsty, so they should be allowed to eat whenever they felt they needed to. In some schools, VERY MANY of them, actually, this has become "kids can eat all day, whenever they want". This has led to an INCREDIBLE amount of food being thrown out - from their school lunches or from their packed lunches, usually food that is higher in nutrition than sweet drinks and chips of various sorts. Even at the high school and middle school level, in MANY schools, kids are eating virtually all day. I had one very chubby girl tell me that she "needed" to eat all day, or else she would suffer from faintness. She could have been telling the truth, I have no way of knowing, but it certainly wasn't doing her any good to be eating cookies all day.

So, it was very interesting to me to read about a different culture where this was not accepted. The only problem with this book for me personally is that I really do not like to cook. It made me wish very much that I did.

I must also admit to skimming a lot of the latter part of the book. Still, if either of my daughters ever decide to have children, I may seriously consider buying this for them. And should I ever have a say in the matter, I would also seriously advocate for changing the eating habits of children in American schools.

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