Sunday, June 16, 2013

Froggy's Day with Dad!

London, J. (2004). Froggy's Day with Dad. Remkiewicz, F. New York, NY: Viking. 

Genre: Picture Storybook

I have always been a huge fan of frogs. I am not sure why, especially since I consider most slimy things gross but I love frogs. Sadly, this love does not transfer over to the Froggy books. I have come across a few while teaching in a 2nd, grade class and I might have purchased one or two as the $1 choice of a scholastic book order but I do not care for the books. However, I am able to appreciate that the series is popular with children and the books contain a high concentration of sight words, which makes them great for younger readers.

In this particular book, it is Father’s Day, so Froggy spends the day with his dad. Froggy cooks him breakfast, they ride bumper boats, go to the batter’s cage, and play miniature golf. The facial expressions of the dad as they proceed through the wild antics of the day are somewhat amusing but the illustrations are not detailed and lack depth. I did not care much for this book but my almost-six-year-old LOVED it! He enjoyed all of the onomatopoeias (splat, zap, thump, etc.) that were scattered throughout the book. I think this particular feature is appealing to young readers because “sound” words are easy and fun to read.

I would have given this book two stars but because my son requested to read it twice at bedtime, I am going to give it three stars :- ).

Has Anyone Seen My Emily Greene?

Mazer, N. F. (2007). Has Anyone Seen My Emily Greene? Davenier, C. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.

Genre: Picture Storybook

This is a very charming book. A father playfully looks around the house for his energetic, dancing, giggling daughter, Emily Greene. Having the text written as poetry adds to the playful tone of the book and the watercolor illustrations are lively too! I enjoyed how the cat appears to be playing along with the father and daughter. 

It is very sad that Norma Fox Mazer’s daughter passed away before she could illustrate this book but it is wonderful to see that the book was still shared with readers and Christine Davenier was able to capture some of the daughter’s artistic tastes. 

Another little note about this author, I read Mazer’s Babyface a million times during my childhood. It was like a pacifier to me, lol. That book also captures a father-daughter relationship, but the daughter is a teen and the relationship is much more complicated.

Mitchell's License

Durand, H. (2011). Mitchell's License. Fucile, T. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press. 

Genre: Picture Storybook
Mitchell does not like going to bed until his Dad gives him a license to drive to bed. Mitchell drives wildly at first, crashing into things. But he soon becomes a responsible driver--staying in his lane, checking the oil, turning in time, even washing the windshield. I appreciated the father/son bond portrayed in this fun bedtime book.

What makes this book so unique? Mitchell’s dad is creative, imaginative, fun, and energetic. He actively engages in playing with Mitchell. I think all children would like to have a dad that gives 110% of him to them even when he is visibly exhausted after playing for a while. The illustrations do a great job of showing movement, as well as the excitement of Mitchell and his dad as the drive around.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nighttime Ninja

Nighttime Ninja!

DaCosta, B. (2012). Nighttime ninja. Young, E. New York: Little, Brown.

Literary Genre: Picture Storybook 
In the night, a young ninja silently creeps about and explores a house while everyone is sleeping. The ninja is on a mission but it seems one person might have different plans for him. DaCosta sparingly uses text, allowing Young’s incredible and seemingly textured illustrations to tell the story.

The ninja in this story is a young boy trying to sneak a late night snack but he is stopped by his mother. The imagination of the boy emulates that of many children and his mission is one nearly all children can relate to. The book also appeals to parents, as we can relate to the infamous bedtime aversion techniques of children.

My Wild Thing’s review: “I did not like this at all. I wanted to read about a REAL ninja!!” (Tough critic alert)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Currently reading...

Who knew summers could be so busy? Not me, lol. I read four books over the past few days and hope to get reviews up soon. Until then, here's a peak at what I am reading now. And by reading I mean this is what I attempt to read between meetings, at the dentist office, while in the pick up line at my son's school, etc.

Drum roll, please!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Frog Prince

The Frog Prince by the Brothers Grimm

Genre: Traditional Literature, Folklore, Fairy Tale (Children's)
I read this classic fairy tale in the Classics of Children’s Literature (6th Edition) by John W. Griffith and Charles H. Frey. Published by Pearson in Upper Saddle River, NJ in 2005.

My initial response to the Grimms’ The Frog Prince is that it clearly follows the mythos, or master plot, that structures many fairy tales. For instance, the Prince was victimized by a “wicked witch” and altered into a frog (p. 45). The Prince’s loyal servant was so distraught by the alteration that his heart had to be protected with iron belts—this information not only promotes a message of loyalty but also offers evidence to reinforce the wickedness of the witch. Her act was so ghastly it had dire repercussions beyond the Prince. The Prince, now a frog, spent his time in the woods, assumingly encountering adventures until the King’s daughter comes along to offer a resolution. The King also contents to the Prince marrying his daughter, which consequently results in the familiar fairy tale ending of a restructured family. In contrast, The Frog Prince is different from other fairy tales because the King had to order his daughter to hold true to her word and free the Prince from his altered state. 

The Grimms’ must have had some purpose or alternative function in mind when writing the story in this way. To better understand this, I asked myself, how would the story have been different if the King did not influence his daughter? What if we deleted the lines: “that which thou hast promised must thou perform,” “so go now and let him in,” and “That which thou hast promised in thy time of necessity, must thou perform.” (p. 45)? I have a sneaky suspicion that the daughter would have left the Prince (the frog) sitting on the doorstep and she would have been punished in some monstrous way for her deception. The King’s influence was critical in the movement of the plot and ultimately led to the resolution being possible.

Knowing the Grimms’ lost their father early in life[1], it could be they sought to make the King (a father) a hero. Especially due to the fact of the daughter being the youngest. In fairy tales, the youngest is typically disadvantaged and despite her grand beauty, she lacked understanding and wisdom and her struggle with this ethical dilemma might not have been overcome without intervention from the father. She needed a hero and the King served that function. It could also be that the King serves as a divine force or hero for the Prince, in addition to his influence over his daughter. The Prince overcomes his frog state because of the daughter learning about integrity and setting aside her own discomfort to repay a good deed. 

The King’s influence corresponds to the influence the Cat held in Perrault’s The Master Cat, or Puss in Boots. The youngest son would not have been able to overcome his misfortune without the cleverness of the Cat to manipulate others and help the youngest son achieve a higher status in society. However, there is an obvious difference here. In The Frog Prince, the King was intervening to prevent deception and in The Master Cat, the Cat was intervening to assert deception. The Brothers Grimm seem to be more meticulous in ensuring that their tales taught values, while Perrault’s emphasis might have been more directed on the art of storytelling. However, I do prefer the Grimms’ stories and the language is very much a cause of that. 

*Picture citation:
*2nd Picture Citation: