Hi everybody! Welcome to our Kids Book Review Library Haul post! This is where I give you quick and snappy reviews of our favorites from our weekly library haul. We read a LOT of children’s books from the library, so I don’t bother reviewing all the ones that were just mediocre. I like to keep things positive too, so books that I thought were terrible don’t usually make it into the list either… unless I just really want to rant about it for a while. Let us know in the comments which books were winners in YOUR library haul!
#1. The Princess and The Pig by Jonathon Emmett
What happens in all the books? That must be the explanation. Emmett takes a unique combination approach to retelling the famous old fairy tales, combining and mixing them up with hilarious results. In this book, the mix-up isn’t corrected. The princess goes on being a farmer’s daughter, and the pig doesn’t turn into a princess, but it all works out anyways. I thought this was a lighthearted way to introduce the idea that things don’t always happen like they do in books, and maybe begin to point out the differences between fact and fiction to a child. But, even without trying to leech the fun out of things by making everything educational (sarcasm, sarcasm) this is a fun book to read aloud, and entertaining for kids. I can’t say for certain, because I don’t have a boy child quite old enough to sit through a book this length, but I imagine the twisted up fairy tale style would appeal to boys and girls alike.
We really liked it: 5 out of 5 stars.
#2. Barbie: A Baby Doctor
Okay, I don’t usually review kids books that I hate, but I hated this one enough that I felt the need to get a good rant in and ask why these books are still being printed?! Sophia keeps bringing home Barbie books from the library, and every one of them is worse than the last. This particular one really got my dander up. Apparently Barbie wants to be a baby doctor. I can only presume that this book is meant to encourage little girls to be baby doctors–which isn’t a bad goal, except that the “doctors job” Barbie is trying out, is the same thing a daycare worker does. And an inept daycare worker at that! (She has to be told to change the diapers… duh… stinky baby = poop) There is nothing educational about this book–it’s demoralizing fluff. If they were really trying to teach little girls (or kids in general) about what “baby doctors” do, they could have started by using the word “pediatrician” instead of calling it a baby doctor. I was so entirely disgusted with the constant use of the phrase “baby doctor” by page two that I started substituting the word pediatrician myself. I do understand that some concepts might be difficult for children to grasp–they might not fully understand what exactly a pediatrician does, but whoever wrote this miserable excuse of a book could have done a thousand different things to make it better. Get this: The jobs Barbie has to practice to be a “baby doctor” are changing diapers and giving bottles. No mention of medical school, or interning for a more experienced doctor. She just changes diapers and sings to the babies. Why couldn’t she have shadowed a pediatrician at a well-child check-up? That would have been something most kids can relate too. Who knows? Whoever wrote this book wasn’t thinking. As a toy, Barbies are meh at best–I don’t appreciate the so-called beauty standards that they impress upon our daughters from the youngest age. But Barbie as a role model in these books is 10 times worse. I’m not generally one to fuss about sexism, but these books are sexist in the worst way. I don’t stop Sophia from getting them out of the library, but I never read her the actual story. Enough said.
Avoid at all costs: no stars.
#3. Fluffy, Flat, and Wet: A Book about Clouds by Dana Meachen Rau
This book about clouds is perfect for providing a first introduction to the science of clouds and the different types of said clouds for preschool age kids. The language was simple enough to not require excessive explanation, but it did include all the big names for the cloud types. The definitions of the different cloud types were simple enough that we could check out the window and determine immediately what kind of clouds were in our skies. It was a fantastic, educational first look at some science, and Sophia has regularly asked about the clouds in the sky since we read it the first time. It’s also appropriate, because we currently live in Washington. I mean, the weather is great now, but you should have seen it 3 months ago. So. Many. Clouds.
We loved it: 5 out of 5 stars
#4. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
Giraffes Can’t Dance is about a Giraffe named Gerald who had knobby knees and long legs, and was a terribly awkward dancer. He feels bad about it, when he can’t polka and rumba, or cut the rug like any of the other animals, but he finds out that he just has to find the music that moves him and dance anyways. Turns out, he’s not so great at waltzing or jazz, but he can ballet like nobody’s business. This was a pretty quick, rhyming book–another that I picked up especially because of the animals and illustrations. It was cute enough, and mentioned lots of different dances, so that was fun. I’m thinking of using it in conjunction with Youtube to show Sophia the dances.
We liked it: 3 out of 5 stars
#5. Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
Hug Machine is all about a boy who is fantastic at giving hugs. Nobody can resist them! He gives hugs all day long, and he’ll hug anything–even whales and porcupines! But what happens when the Hug Machine is too exhausted to hug anymore? He’s recharged by his mommy’s hug, of course. This was a really sweet, empathetic book, that attributes a lot to the power of hugs. It’s definitely a feel-good story. The other thing I really liked about this book is that it’s another one that seems to bridge the age gap between the larger picture books Sophia is beginning to enjoy, and the board books that Klaus enjoys. There are just a few short sentences on each page spread, but the sentences are accompanied by brightly colored, obvious illustrations.
We really liked it: 4 out of 5 stars.