Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bibi's Bookshelf

Once again, I'm afraid I borrowed books that Bibi never got around to having read to her.  Oh well.  As a result, however, these reviews are my personal response and don't include Bibi's response or reaction to the stories.  

Cookie, the Walker by Chris Monroe is about a dog, Cookie, that walks on her hind legs and becomes famous as a result.  Her life, however, becomes complicated and she becomes increasingly more miserable as her fame grows.  The story uses repetition, which is great for younger children, and the drawings are fun and simple.

I honestly have no clue what this book is supposed to be saying.  Is the message here that a child who stands out shouldn’t because being unique will lead to misery?  That seems to be how it ends, with Cookie conforming to walking around on all fours because that’s what dogs do.  This same theme is explored by Shel Silverstein in Lafcadio, the Lion WhoShot BackIt’s a chapter book about a lion who learns how to shoot a gun and has an existential crisis when fame and fortune follow.  The ending, however enigmatic, is more gratifying.  For that reason, I would not want Monroe’s book read to my granddaughter and I really wouldn’t want her to read it for herself.

The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers is about a rabbit who is frightened by its own shadow.  Eventually, however, the rabbit is forced to confront fear and comes to embrace the “black rabbit” that follows him wherever he goes. 

The illustrations are a perfect match to the story and there is a lot to learn from the simple story.  There is an almost racist undertone to the story—a white rabbit afraid of its black shadow—but this seems more a Jungian theme of The Self confronting and facing The Shadow Self.    I actually borrowed the book from the library because I thought I would dislike it.  Wait.  That sounds wrong.  I mean, I borrowed it not expecting I would like it, mostly because the cover implied a sort of racial overtone that I would find offensive.  That is not how I felt after reading it. 

For those parents who were intrigued by my review of Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents, I would recommend this book as a perfect complement for younger children. 

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is the antithesis of Cooke, the Walker.  In this story a punctuation mark learns that it’s okay to be yourself.  Imagine that.  A book that encourages the reader to unique, to be him/her-self.  To not deny what is the true self, rather than trying to conform to outside expectations.  Especially when those expectations are really self-perceptions.

This book was probably my favorite.   After all, don’t most adults struggle with not getting too caught up in what others are thinking?  Don’t we all go through times when we are less worried about being true to ourselves than we are about what other people perceive us to be?  Are we good enough?  Thin enough?  Smart enough?  Worthy enough?  This book answers those questions with a resounding YES and think that’s a good message for children to read.  Plus, children will learn about punctuation on pages that are designed to look like penmanship practice pages.  I mean, can it get any better than that?  Sometimes I read a library book I wish I could immediately buy for Bibi.  This is one of those books.   

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