Monday, July 17, 2017

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents...

by Ian Lendler

Okay first off, WHY ARE THERE NOT MORE OF THESE??

Because there need to be.

Seriously.

Overall-- Graphic novels about zoo animals performing Shakespeare after everyone has left the zoo?  What more could you want?!

Macbeth
5 stars
Oh my gosh, so funny!  I loved it.  Poor Macbeth just has to eat the king.... and anyone else who gets in his way.  Hilarious.

Romeo and Juliet
4 stars
Not as good as Macbeth, but really... it's Romeo and Juliet.. which is not as good as Macbeth.... so, yeah. (I loathe Romeo and Juliet, in all honesty.)
Romeo and Juliet are a rooster and a bear respectively which seems like it wouldn't work at all, but I promise it does.

Bottom line-- you need these in your life.  I don't care if you have kids or not, you NEED these.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Meh-- a Picture Book Round-Up

(received for review)

Sometimes picture books just simply aren't as cute as you want them to be.

A Band of Babies by Carole Gerber

Rhyming text was okay, but I didn't care for the illustration style at all.  And I'm not a fan of the "let's walk down the street from daycare and wreck the store... it'll be cute 'cause we're babies" concept.  Just no.  (MeiMei didn't like this one either)

North, South, East, West by Margaret Wise Brown
I don't know why, but the books by Brown they've been publishing lately just really do nothing for me.  Illustrations weren't bad.

Places to Be by Mac Barnett
Really cute illustrations but again... this just did nothing for me.

I Love Mommy/I Love Daddy
board books by Sebastien Braun
The Mommy one is much better than the Daddy one, in my opinion.  Overall, though... eh.  They're fine but not amazing.  Cute enough to give as a gift, but not cute enough I need to own them myself.  Maybe if we were still firmly in the board book stage of life, but we're passing out of it.

Good Morning, Grizzle Grump by Aaron Blecha
If I were Grizzle, I'd be a grump too.  What lame jerky friends.  Not a fan of this one.

(This is in nowise a comprehensive list.  A lot of times if we don't care to keep the picture book I donate it to school or library or give away without bothering to review.)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Activity-ish Books, A Quarto Round-up

Because Quarto seriously has the most interesting titles.

(And they keep offering to send me review copies... and how can I turn that down when they're so cool? So, yes, these were received for review.)

Math Lab for Kids by Rebecca Rapoport and JA Yoder
My kids think this is SO COOL.  Packed with math activities that are so fun they don't feel like lessons.  Granted, my kids love math (they're freakish that way.... I blame their father) but these are awesome so I'd imagine even kids who do not love math will still enjoy this one.  You could use it to sneak some math into your kids' summer.  I'll never tell.

Build A.... Butterfly or T-Rex
(Your choice, but they are separate books, lol)
by KiKi Ljung
These are more like cardboard models with some text.  The pieces fit into spots on each page.  There's not a ton of text, but there is good info and the models look pretty darn cool.

Under the Sea
In The Jungle
both by Paul Boston
These are so cool, but be aware they are a bit more complicated.  You navigate through the book using map and math skills.  Unlike Math Lab, it's not so sneaky that that's what you're doing, but it makes for an interesting activity.  Kind of like an RPG video game but all old-school and paper-y.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Tales of the Ketty Jay #1

3 stars
pirate-y sci-fi ish
language
R-2

So... while yes, fans of Firefly would probably enjoy this.... DO NOT go in thinking "this will be just like Firefly!" because you'll be disappointed.

That was part of my struggle.

The other part simply being this just isn't my thing.  I prefer my sci-fi onscreen.

If sci-fi ish stuff is your thing (which it's only sort of sci-fi ish really.... it's more pirates meet old west meet airplanes)....

If that sounds like it's right up your alley then you should probably pick this one up.

There were some random story elements that didn't fit/felt forced/whatever, but I'm thinking that will possibly straighten itself out over the course of the series.

Also, I didn't actually read the Captain's Log thing at the end... because while the voice started out really amusing it got old fast (for me personally) and I simply didn't care enough.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D by David Kushner

4 stars
graphic nonvel
R- 2
some language
received for review

First off, no, that's not a typo.  That's what I've decided to call nonfiction in the form of a graphic novel-- a graphic nonvel.

Second, many reviewers on GoodReads were disappointed (and apparently surprised) that this was not an in-depth biography of Gygax.  So just to clear things up, this is NOT an in-depth biography of Gygax.  It is, in fact, about the creation of D&D.

(Really, I thought that was evident from the title, but whatever.)

(Also, it's less than 150 pages... so you know it's not really "in-depth" anything.)

Anyway.

What this IS is a short interesting look at how D&D came to be.

The second person pov made it a little awkward to follow, I thought, but at the same time it's totally fitting.  So it works.  You just might have to pay more attention than you sometimes do.

(And by "you" I mean myself... because really.)

I was hoping to pass this one on to Boo and Mister (because at least one of them expressed some interest) but I'm not going to right at the moment because:
- Dripping condom picture.  EW. ew ew ew ew ew ew ew  Also ew.
- F word.  It's only once, but really, did we need it in there?  Sigh.
(Yes, I know they possibly hear it all and worse but a) they might not and b) there's a difference between things you hear out in the world and things your mom hands to you)

There are some other sensitive topics-- homosexuality, teens/college kids having sex, suicide-- but I could have probably dealt with having those conversations.  Or at least deal with them sooner.

I maybe could have even gotten past the F word. (or scribbled it out... hey, it's my copy)

But the picture.

Again-- EWWWW.

Overall, interesting and worth a look if you are interested in the topic.  Just be aware there may be a certain maturity level.

(Before anyone starts ranting about profanity being realistic, just don't.  I am well aware that there are people in the world who talk like that.  That doesn't mean I have to like it.  Personally I don't actually know people who talk like that, or if I do they have enough respect to not talk like that around me.)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Wide-Awake for Six Books Now

The Wide-Awake Princess series, by ED Baker

Once upon a time I reviewed a delightful book called The Wide-Awake Princess.

And then, apparently, I forgot to review ANY OF THE REST OF THE SERIES.

Which I'm going to blame on the fact that for pretty much all of them I had at least 1 child who was 2 or younger.

Technically I still do, but I'm coming nicely out of my blogging slump as she approaches her third birthday and for the first time EVER when I've had a child approaching their third birthday I have neither a younger child nor a pregnancy to contend with.

So.

I guess I'll review those now... ahem.  Assuming I can remember reading them.

Unlocking the Spell (Wide-Awake Princess #2)

4 stars
Not as good as the first, but still a solid showing.  And really you have to read it to find out what happened with various threads left loose in book 1.

The Bravest Princess (Wide-Awake Princess #3)

4 stars
Again with not as good as the first, but not bad.  Annie and Liam head off to help Snow White.  (You know, like you do.)

Princess in Disguise (Wide-Awake Princess #4)

4 stars again.... but....
Things are waning.  Still fun, but there's starting to be a level of "meh".

Princess Between Worlds (Wide-Awake Princess #5)

Apparently I only gave this one 3 stars.  
If you haven't read the Frog Princess books (all of them) you may want to do so before embarking on book 5.  The series (serieses?) come together in a fun way, but several reviewers kind of call this a filler book and while it's fun, I'm not sure they're wrong.

The Princess and the Pearl (Wide-Awake Princess #6)

3.5 stars
And finally the one I just read.  I actually think these last 2 are more fun in terms of story, but the writing is suffering for sure.  Not sure if it's a "it's this far into the series so we aren't going to bother editing anymore" or "must push out more in this series but don't have time/energy/whatever to do it properly" but yeah.... it's getting a little rough.  Younger fans aren't going to notice though.  (You should be aware that various characters are married by this point and one is pregnant.)  Also, if you ignored my note about reading the Frog Princess books 1) shame on you and 2) fix that now, because you really want to read those before this book.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

An Historic Women Round-Up

Happy July!

With the Fourth upcoming, it seemed appropriate to share these titles with you. :)

(Received for review and technically not yet read in depth by me)

Ladies of Liberty by Cokie Roberts
This picture is a follow-up to Founding Mothers and introduces kids to women explorers, educators, writers, activists, etc who shaped our nation's history.  And it is indeed based on the author's best-selling adult book of the same name.

A Kids' Guide to America's First Ladies by Kathleen Krull
If you've got older kids, here's an awesome choice.  It's filled with anecdotes and timelines and gives info on all of our first ladies (up to Michelle Obama, I believe.)  I'm making my older kids read it this month, because I'm a nice mom and assign things like that over the summer.