Childrens Book Review Time

We’re planning on having a bookshelf in the baby’s room, complete with a bunch of childrens books.  Mpotter accumulated a king’s ransom of childrens books being a first grade teacher.  Here is a sampling of a few that will be in the collection.

The Story About Ping
By Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese
This is one of my favorite children’s books.  This Chinese duck named Ping and his 42 cousins all live on this slave ship in the Yangtze River.  The slave master of the boat threatens all of the ducks with abuse if they are the last one on the boat at the end of the day.  One day Ping can’t take the stress of being the last one on the boat any more, panics, and doesn’t get on the boat at all.  Ping ends up getting lost and almost killed and eaten in the next few pages.  Realizing his mistake, Ping eventually finds the boat and returns to a life of slavery.  The story ends with Ping getting beaten by the slave master.

I’m not sure why I liked this book so much.  Life for Ping just sucks on and off the boat.  Am I going to read it to the baby?  Hells yeah!

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
By William Stieg
This talking donkey named Sylvester lives the idyllic life in a small country town.  That is until he finds this magic pebble that grants any wish he says or thinks.  The rub is that he has to be touching the pebble for the wish to take effect.  Before he can take advantage of this miraculous find, a lion comes and threatens to eat Sylvester.  I didn’t even know lions even ate donkeys.  Anyways, Sylvester panics and wishes himself into a rock to avoid the lion.  Unable to hold onto the pebble any more, he can’t wish himself back into a donkey.  Talk about irony!  His parents then panic and invoke the help of the local police (who happen to be pigs – ha!).  Nobody can find Sylvester and his parents fall into a deep depression.  Sylvester also becomes depressed, and maintains stasis as a rock for about a year.  His parents then try to take their mind off of suicidal thoughts and decide to have picnic.  By the sheer stroke of luck, they picnic on the rock that is Sylvester and find the pebble and wish Sylvester was with them.  Sylvester then is returned to normal and everyone is happy in the end.

I loved this book as a kid.  But it wasn’t until I re-read the book years later that I gained a new appreciation for it as an allegory of drug abuse and it’s effects on family life.  The red pebble = LSD.  The book was written in the 60s.  The cops are pigs.  How much more obvious does it need to get?    

Are You My Mother?
By P.D. Eastman
This single mother bird with good intentions leaves her egg, I think to get food or something for the baby bird when it hatches.  Well, the baby bird hatches while the mother is gone.  The bird panics when it’s mother isn’t there and leaves the nest in search of it’s mother.  Since it has no idea what it’s mother looks like, he asks every blessed thing it comes into contact with – cat, dog, and few other things I can’t remember.  I do remember that the baby bird came very close to having a very short life with it’s naivety and general lack of survival instinct.  Anyways, since it’s a childrens book and has to end happily (Ping being the exception), the baby bird ends up finding it’s mother by the end of the book.

In case you haven’t realized it by now, apparently I’m drawn to children’s books whose themes center around desperation, solitude, and panic.  This book has it all.

The Cat in the Hat
By Dr. Seuss
Basically this Cat barges into these two kids’ house and totally f**ks the place up. These two kids just stare in disbelief as this Cat wrecks havoc with his two minions, Thing 1 and Thing 2. In the end the Cat ends up cleaning up the joint, I guess because he realizes he’ll probably go to jail for such reckless and unprovoked behavior.  Dr. Seuss was probably finishing up the book and said “What sounds better as a sequel?  The Cat in the Hat Comes Back or The Cat in the Hat Charged with Domestic Attack“.  Obviously he chose the former.

I’m not sure why this book is so popular.  The Cat has no respect for personal property.  And these two small kids are left alone with no supervision, unless maybe the fish is supposed to be the babysitter.  But I can’t see Child Services buying that one.  Apologies to all Dr. Seuss fans, but this book just doesn’t sit well with me. 


4 Responses to Childrens Book Review Time

  1. Meredith says:

    I loved that Ping book when I was little, too! I had forgotten about it until I read the title. How funny. I remember a section about a band around his neck (right?) We have some of my old books for Little Elvis, and I had to hunt down a couple that didn’t last. We found him the “Tawny Scrawny Lion,” which I highly recommend. It’s just as cute now. And my mom kept my copy of “Miss Suzy” about a squirrel who makes a home in an attic taking care of toy soldiers after mean squirrels trash her house. I’ve got to hunt down “Danny and the Dinosaur,” though. Not sure if you’re interested, but Sam’s Club has a whole set of Golden Books on sale right now.

  2. Funky Boss says:

    I don’t think there is a part with a band around Ping’s neck, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ping really was tortured with a device like that.

    Thanks for the recommendations. We’ll have to pick them up and get a review in an upcoming post.

  3. thelittlebean says:

    as you all can tell, we’re quite different. i love children’s books for humor & story. The Mr on the other hand has to be all intelligent and symbolic.

    my fave books are alphabet books. his reply: “i already know the alphabet!”
    but, oh how creative they are!!!!

    i hope we don’t confuse this kid!
    at least we both love to read. hopefully that’ll give littlebean something!

  4. Aunt Stacey says:

    Oh man, this post is hilarious. I have a new appreciation for children’s literaure.

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