Monthly Archives: December 2013

Diary of an Almost Cool Girl

1.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:

This is your basic new girl, new school, diary-entry book. What it has going for it are some great moments of humor where the voice of your young narrator has been expertly captured. On the other hand, there are also grammatical errors (and there’s no real way to tell if they’re intentional), the plot is uneven, with far too much narrative as opposed to action, and it’s just very meh. As an adult reviewing this, I found it hard to get through and a little forced, despite some good moments here and there.

Greater Detail:

She’s a girl who would like to be cool… but isn’t. She has the normal crushes (Twilight series hunks, a boy in the class), and some embarrassing escapades (Dora the Explorer underpants that get lost and then… found). She has a well-meaning mother (who mixes up things like what day the kids are playing dress up at school), and makes a couple friends.

There’s really nothing particularly wrong here (a couple of grammatical and/or spelling errors, which could be either the author or intentional misspellings that are supposed to be more representative of a girl that age). There’s just also, nothing particularly right: a protagonist who seems to whine a little too much (even relative to the age group, making her a little hard to like) and characters that feel more like caricatures than people we can really get our heads and arms around.

 

Comparison to Other Authors/Books:

It feels clear that this is meant to be a version of the Dairy of a Wimpy Kid/Dork Kid series… I’ve never particularly been a fan of those either… but they’re more likeable, with more fully drawn characters than this. For mischievous young girl protagonists, I prefer someone like Clementine, which is similar age-group and diary-like voice.

 

Posted in Children's/Young Adult

Halloween Jack (Roger Priddy)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is fun, interactive book for any toddler. The eyes move, there are some lights and sounds, and though there are witches and monsters, these are (mostly) toddler-appropriate witches and monsters. It’s not really that enjoyable from the parental point of view (it’s simplistic in both its rhymes and its illustrations), but it’s bright, the googly eyes move, it’s sturdy as far as board books go, and it’s something your toddler will enjoy.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult

Baby Signs (Joy Allen)

Not Recommended, Not Repeatable

I’m just not sure what does book really does — it’s theoretically supposed to help you and your baby learn to sign (and it shows pictures of a baby signing)… but there are only 13 signs in the entire book, and if you’re really teaching your baby, I think it would probably be easier to try and engage them directly as opposed to add an additional thing to ask them to focus on (the book). It’s well-written, but not really engaging enough visually to hold my kids’ attention, and not really thorough enough to be educational for me as the parent, either.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult

I Love You Through and Through (Bernadette Rossetti Shustak)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is one of those simple, classic board books, and I’ll admit, it’s a total sucker punch of cuteness, but my toddler loves it, and so I love it. This review will probably be longer than the book (the entire book is basically going through simple body parts and emotions, reiterating that we, as parents, love them completely). But the illustrations (by Caroline Jayne Church) are cute and simple (and totally engaging for my toddler), and it’s one of those reads that have become staples in our family because it’s just so easy — toes, where are your toes! — or — sad, see sad face? — it keeps my toddler’s attention, and it’s a pretty universally mushy message.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult

Ruined by a Rake (Erin Knightley)

0.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
There were portions of this book that either were interesting or, more often, could have been interesting, but overall, it felt both rushed and contrived. It was one of those stories where you’re led to believe that perhaps they’ve always liked one another (or rather, he’s always loved her) but they’re just now, kind of magically, because of circumstances, discovering that they’re meant to be. There are so many overused and underdeveloped tropes in this that it’s hard to know where to begin: the 0.5 stars are for the fencing interactions, which were fairly well done… but I can’t judge a whole romance based on one sequence.

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Posted in Romance

Brave Martha (Margot Apple)

Not Recommended, Not Repeatable

This isn’t a bad book, and the premise is cute. A young girl (Martha) must learn to go to sleep without her cat as a companion. She’s afraid that her father hasn’t checked all the nooks and crannies where monsters might be hiding, and it’s… cute. But, from the story-telling style to the drawing style, there’s nothing that particularly stands out. It’s clearly a story that’s meant to be part of the go-to-sleep routine, and I think it’s just not the best example of this particular trope, thus the not recommended, not repeatable rating, despite being a genuinely okay story.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult