Tag Archives: Children’s Books

Not quite age appropriate…

I just read two GREAT BOOKS that aren’t quite right for their “target” audience. Don’t worry, nothing scandalous, but just a bit off the mark.

The first is called I Want My Hat Back by John Klassen. It’s a hilarious picture book about a bear who has lost his hat. There is a subtlety to it that may be lost on little ones. Also, at the very end, some particularly sensitive children might get sad, if they even pick up on what happens at all. That being said, I was laughing so hard at the end! If you appreciate a good picture book, see if your local library has it. There are other great reviews on the web, like this one from Wired‘s Geek Dad, or this one from the Calling Caldecott blog. Great story, but might not be right for the tiniest children.

The next is a young adult book called The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. The premise is this: It’s 1996, and the Internet is not in widespread use yet. Josh goes next door to his best friend Emma’s house with an America Online CD-ROM that came in the mail. Emma loads it onto her new desktop computer, and when she logs in, she finds herself and Josh on Facebook fifteen years in the future. I thought it was a clever concept, but no teen actually remembers getting those AOL CD-ROMs, or even what a CD-ROM is. I’m 28, and so I was 13 in 1996. I clearly remember using a dial-up modem, not being able to use the phone while online, not having a cell phone, and all those details that are essential to this book. They are pointed out clearly in the text, but I think it will go over the heads of most teens. Give this book to someone my age or a bit older and the connection to both the old and new technology is there. That being said, the story of being able to see into one’s future was cool, especially when Emma and Josh make slight changes to their current lives that make big waves down the line. Try this review from the LA Times for more.



The Reading Life: Animal Friends

A few weeks ago, the Do Nothing But Read podcast was about books in which animals are the main characters. The books included Jaws, Planet of the Apes, and Cujo. Not particularly friendly animals, but entertaining ones nonetheless.

I babysat an adorable two-year-old today, and we read about fifteen picture books in around an hour. I started noticing that most picture books that feature animals are focused on different kinds of animals being friends. Is this a none-too-subtle hint to kids to love people who are different from them? Probably, but it also makes for great books.

Hondo and Fabian by Peter McCarty

I had never heard of this book before, but it is adorable and I will be buying it. Author and illustrator Peter McCarty tells the story of Hondo, a dog, and Fabian, a cat, and their respective fun afternoons. Hondo goes to the beach and plays with his friend, Fred (another dog). Fabian stays at home and plays with (and runs away from) the baby. The illustrations are muted and worn-looking, and if the car in the book is any indication, the story takes place in the 1930s or 1940s. There is very little text, but most of the story is in the juxtaposition of the minimal text and the lovely pictures. Fabian is my favorite; he is a fat, floofy cat that sort of looks like my cat, Oscar. Hondo and Fabian are friends, but in an animal way. It’s nice.

Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

I think Frog and Toad sort of started this subgenre of “animal friend” books. Frog is tall, skinny, and affable, while Toad is short, stout, and grumpy. And yet, they are best friends. This book is the first of four. Each book has five short stories about the pair and each story is simply illustrated. These are delightful stories about friendship and being a good person. Some stories are surprisingly poignant, too.

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