Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Favorite Book Quotes #1

Love this quote! Whenever books are turned into movies, sometimes the movie could come out so bad that some fans might not want to read the book because of the movie, even though most movies do COME STRAIGHT OUT BOOKS!

Monday, February 24, 2014

[BOOK REVIEW] Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie

Title:  Yeh-Shen:  A Cinderella Story from China

Author:  Ai-Ling Louie

Artist:  Ed Young

Genre: Folktale / China / Friendship

Year Published: 1982

Year Read:  2014

Publisher: Philomel Books

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 6+ (Death)

Buy on:  Amazon  //  Book Depository 

I have read many different interpretations of the classic “Cinderella” story.  But imagine my delight when I find out that there was a “Cinderella” story that comes from China called “Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China,” which was retold by Ai-Ling Louie along with illustrations by Ed Young and man, was it one brilliant story to read!

A long time ago in China, there lived a young and beautiful girl named Yeh-Shen, whose mother had died when she was a baby.  Unfortunately, her stepmother and her stepsister treated Yeh-Shen as poorly as they envied her beauty and they made her do all the housework.  The only friend that Yeh-Shen had was a fish that she caught in the pond as the fish would give her anything she wanted. Unfortunately, the stepmother ended up killing and eating the fish after she discovered the fish’s secret and Yeh-Shen was left with no friend.  However, the spirit of the fish continued to live on through its bones and it continued to help Yeh-Shen, despite having died at the hands of the stepmother.  One day, the Spring Festival came to town and the stepmother and the stepsister went to the festival without Yeh-Shen.  However, the spirit of the fish continued to help Yeh-Shen by giving her a beautiful gown to wear and Yeh-Shen went to the festival.

Will Yeh-Shen be discovered and will she finally find her happily ever after?

Read this book to find out!

Wow! This book was truly amazing!  I loved the way that Ai-Ling Louie retold this ancient Chinese version of the classic “Cinderella” story, as the story feels so exotic with the Chinese setting and the characters were written truly well.  I also loved the fact that in this version of the story, the “Cinderella” of this story, which is Yeh-Shen, has a pet companion in the form of a fish that grants Yeh-Shen’s greatest desires, even after death, which I found to be truly creepy and yet interesting at the same time!  Ed Young’s illustrations were truly beautiful and creative at the same time!  I loved the way that Ed Young illustrated the events of the story through various shapes of fish, such as having the characters’ hats represent the eyes of the fish and have the characters be drawn inside the shape of the fish.

Parents should know that the ending might be a bit disturbing for smaller children since it seemed to happen so unexpectedly.  I will not say what exactly happened at the end, but let us just say that someone dies a gruesome death at the end and it was extremely jarring to see after the tone of the book had been mainly heartwarming for the most part.

Overall, “Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China” is a brilliant retelling of the classic “Cinderella” story and will be a huge favorite among fans of Chinese folktales and different retellings of “Cinderella.”  I would recommend this book to children ages six and up due to the length of this book and the ending might disturb smaller children.

[BOOK REVIEW] The Boy Who Drew Cats by Margaret Hodges

Title:  The Boy Who Drew Cats

Author:  Margaret Hodges

Artist:  Ari Sogabe

Genre: Japan / Horror / Animals

Year Published: 2002

Year Read:  2014

Publisher: Holiday House

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 6+  (Some Scary Moments)

Buy or Add on :  Amazon  //  Goodreads

Now, I will admit that I had actually read the popular Japanese folktale, “The Boy Who Drew Cats” before; my first exposure being to the Rabbit Ears’ version of the folktale which was narrated by William Hurt.  Well, imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that there was another version of the classic Japanese folktale that was written by Margaret Hodges along with illustrations by Ari Sogabe that was just as memorable as Rabbit Ears’ version of “The Boy Who Drew Cats!”

The story starts off with a poor farmer and his wife having difficulty feeding their children.  While the rest of the children can work efficiently on the farm, their youngest son was not strong and efficient in working on the farm, even though he was extremely clever.  So, the parents decided to send the youngest son to a priest so he can prepare for priesthood.  Unfortunately, the boy loved to draw cats, but it would always get him into trouble with the priest until one day, the priest told the boy to get out and gave him a small warning before he left:

“Avoid large places at night; keep to small.”

Disappointed, the boy wandered around town until he came to an abandoned temple that was rumored to contain a large goblin that terrorized the people of the village.

Will the boy survive the goblin’s wrath and what importance will the priest’s words have on the boy?

I have always enjoyed the story of “The Boy Who Drew Cats” and this version of the classic Japanese folktale does not disappoint me!  I loved the way that Margaret Hodges retold this story as the story was full of horror that set me on the edge of my seat!  I actually sympathized with the young boy in this story as his own family had to send him to a priest since they could not feed all of their children and then, the boy gets kicked out of the priest’s home since his ability to draw cats had gotten him into trouble.  I was actually rooting for the boy throughout the story as I wanted him to get his happily ever after, after going through so much turmoil in his life.  I also enjoyed the little author’s note at the end of the book by Margaret Hodges as she describes about where she got the inspiration to write this story and where this story originated from.  Ari Sogabe’s artwork was truly gorgeous in this story and some of my favorite images were of the trees and the landscape of Japan as they look truly colorful and realistic and it really brought out the beauty of this story!

Parents should know that this story has some scary moments, including the young boy’s encounter with the goblin and that might scare young children who do not like reading about monsters.  However, I will say that this version is not as graphic as the Rabbit Ears’ version, so parents might have an easier time helping their children deal with the dark nature of this story since the violence is extremely low key in this version.

Overall, “The Boy Who Drew Cats” is a fantastic story for children who enjoy reading horror stories and Japanese folktales. I would recommend this book to children ages six and up since the dark themes of this story might scare younger children.

[BOOK REVIEW] The Far Side Gallery by Gary Larson

Title:  The Far Side Gallery

Author:  Gary Larson

Genre: Animals / Comedy / Comic Strips

Year Published: 1984

Year Read:  2/23/2014

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC

Series: The Far Side Gallery

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 7+ (Some Suggestive Themes)

Buy on:  Amazon  //  Book Depository 


After reading “The Far Side Gallery 3,” I was dying to check out more of Gary Larson’s “Far Side Gallery” series and I stumbled upon a collection of Gary Larson’s “Far Side Gallery” series in “The Far Side Gallery” (man, I am talking about the “Far Side Gallery” so much in this review)!  Anyway, this collection of “Far Side Gallery” stories is just as memorable and hilarious as the “Far Side Gallery 3!”

What is this story about?

Basically, this “Far Side Gallery” collection contains comic strips from “The Far Side,” “Beyond the Far Side,” and “In Search of the Far Side” and the comic strips all contain hilarious situations that involve various animals and human beings.

What I loved about this story:

Gary Larson’s writing: Gary Larson’s writing is as usual hilarious and witty to read as the various characters in these comic strips are always making sarcastic comments about the situations they are thrown into.  As usual, Gary Larson managed to make some of the puns such as “Hat Hunters” and “Water Buffaloes” come to life in a literal sense and I just rolled over laughing when I read these strips! Some of my favorite comic strips in this collection are:

“Big Bob says he’s getting tired of you saying he doesn’t really exist.” (When the boy’s imaginary friend grabs the boy’s father roughly by the shirt).

“We’ve made it, Warren! ...The moon!” (When two astronauts landed on the moon, but one of the astronauts accidentally hit the other astronaut’s helmet, cracking it).

The real reason dinosaurs became extinct (Showing the dinosaurs smoking cigarettes).

“For twelve perfect years I was a car-chaser.  Pontiacs, Fords, Chryslers…I took them all on…and yesterday my stupid owner backs over me in the driveway.” (A dog tells another dog in heaven how his owner killed him with a car).

Gary Larson’s artwork:  Gary Larson’s artwork as usual is hilarious to look at as the characters have exaggerated bodies such as their bodies being larger than their heads.  I also loved how hilarious the artwork becomes during the collection’s most hilarious moments such as the artwork of the astronaut smashing another astronaut’s helmet after pronouncing that they are on the moon at last.

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story:

For anyone who feels uncomfortable about dealing with the concept of heaven and hell, there are a couple comic strips in this collection that deals with heaven and hell, although it is not as frequent as it was in the “Far Side Gallery 3.”

Final Thoughts:

Overall, “The Far Side Gallery” is a fantastic collection of Gary Larson’s best work in the “Far Side Gallery” series and anyone who is a huge fan of Gary Larson’s work in the “Far Side” series will easily enjoy this collection!

Monday, February 17, 2014

[BOOK REVIEW] Alligators All Around by Maurice Sendak

Title:  Alligators All Around

Author:  Maurice Sendak

Genre: Animals / Comedy / Alphabet

Year Published: 1962

Year Read:  2010

Publisher: HarperCollins

Series: The Nutshell Kids Library

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 4+  (Some Rude Behavior)

Buy on:  Amazon  //  Book Depository 

“Alligators All Around” is apart of the popular Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak and it details a family of alligators showing the audience about learning the alphabet through various humorous phrases.  “Alligators All Around” is a brilliant book about teaching the alphabet in a creative way that children will love for many years.

Maurice Sendak had out done himself in this clever book about learning the alphabet through creative phrases.  Maurice Sendak comes up with some creative and hilarious verses to teach children the letters of the alphabet such as “A: Alligators All Around” and “D: Doing Dishes,” as he simply uses two words to describe each letter of the alphabet, making the book easier for smaller children to understand the concept of the letters of the alphabet.  Maurice Sendak’s illustrations may not be as colorful or realistic as his popular books “Outside Over There” or “Where the Wild Things Are,” but they are extremely creative as the characters are a family of three green alligators who are shown doing crazy antics that are representing the letters of the alphabet.  The images that truly stood out in this book were the images of the three alligators themselves as they have tiny black dotted eyes and have humorous expressions on their faces whenever they are doing something crazy in this book.

Parents should know that there is an image of a small alligator pushing a human child when the book approaches the letter “P”, which is “Pushing People” and parents might be a bit uncomfortable with having such an image presented to a young child who can easily imitate anything.  Parents should tell their children that it is not nice to push other children around and therefore, children should not imitate the image of the alligator pushing the children so often.

“Alligators All Around” is a brilliant book about learning the letters of the alphabet in a creative way that will have many children enjoying this book for a long time.  I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since the image of the alligator pushing a child might entice smaller children.  


[BOOK REVIEW] Pierre: A Cautionary Tale by Maurice Sendak

Title:  Pierre:  A Cautionary Tale

Author:  Maurice Sendak

Genre: Animals / Manners / Drama

Year Published: 1962

Year Read:  1993

Publisher: HarperCollins

Series: The Nutshell Kids Library

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+  (One Scary Scene and Some Rude Behavior)

Buy on:  Amazon  //  Book Depository 

“Pierre: A Cautionary Tale” is apart of the Nutshell Kids Library collection by Maurice Sendak and is one of the most exciting one out of all the stories of the collection.  “Pierre: A Cautionary Tale” is about a young boy named Pierre who never cared about hurting other people’s feelings until a lion comes for a visit.  This book will definitely be a cult favorite among children who are fans of Maurice Sendak’s works. 

Maurice Sendak has done a superb job at both illustrating and writing this book.  Maurice Sendak’s writing is similar to Dr. Seuss’ famous rhyming prose as Maurice Sendak writes the story in a rhyming prose, making the story extremely creative to read.  Maurice Sendak also creatively and effectively relates the consequences of not caring about the world and how not caring could become dangerous if one is not careful.  Maurice Sendak’s illustrations may seem a bit simplistic, but the characters are lively and detailed enough to entice many children to read this book, especially of the images of Pierre with his blue outfit and his scowling facial expressions.  

Parents should know that the scene where Pierre is eaten by a lion might scare smaller children, even though this scene is not that graphic since the next images just shows the lion picking his teeth and his belly getting large.  Parents should reassure their children that if they do not care about the world, it does not mean that a lion will eat them, but that there are other consequences that children might face if they do not learn to care for other people like being shunned by other people. 

“Pierre: A Cautionary Tale” is a terrific book about the consequences of not caring about other people’s feelings and it will surely interest children for many years.  I would recommend this book to children ages five and up due to the scene where the lion eats up Pierre. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

[BOOK REVIEW] Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak

Title:  Chicken Soup with Rice

Author:  Maurice Sendak

Genre: Months / Poetry / Humor

Year Published: 1962

Year Read:  1993

Publisher: HarperCollins

Series: The Nutshell Kids Library

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 4+ (Nothing Objectionable)

Buy on:  Amazon  //  Book Depository 

I have first heard about “Chicken Soup with Rice” on a Weston Woods video where Carole King sings the song “Chicken Soup with Rice” on “Really Rosie.”  “Chicken Soup with Rice” is a book about the months of the year by Maurice Sendak that details the months of the year in a poetic way and will surely be an instant favorite for many children who love learning about the months of the year! 

I have always loved Carole King’s version of this classic book by Maurice Sendak and when I finally read this book, I was so intrigued by Maurice Sendak’s illustrations and writing in this book.  Maurice Sendak did an excellent job at writing this book in a lyrical and poetic way, which makes the book extremely hilarious and creative at the same time by putting hilarious situations with each month described in the book.  My favorite poem in the book was the poem about the month of March, which is recited as:

In March the wind
Blows down the door
And spills my soup
Upon the floor.
It laps it up
And roars for more.
Blowing once
Blowing twice
Blowing chicken soup with rice”

Maurice Sendak’s illustrations are truly beautiful and creative as the main colors used in the illustrations are yellow, black, grey, green, and white and also, the illustrations have a somewhat scratchy look that provides the old fashioned feel to the story. Also, the main character, which is a boy, is the same boy that shows up in all of the Nutshell library book series which will help many children realize that this boy is apart of the Nutshell library book series.  What I loved the most about these illustrations is that the boy is always shown doing something ridiculous that deals with the month being mentioned such as the image of the boy swimming in the ocean while a turtle is stirring up chicken soup at the bottom of the ocean during the month of July.
“Chicken Soup with Rice” is the perfect book for children to learn about the months of the year in an extremely creative and hilarious way and it will certainly be the cult classic hit of the century!  I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book that might cause parents to worry. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

[BOOK REVIEW] Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale

Title:  Calamity Jack

Authors:  Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

Artist:  Nathan Hale

Genre: Fairy Tale / Adventure / Romance / Retelling

Year Published: 2010

Year Read: 2010

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Series: Rapunzel’s Revenge #2

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 6+ (Fight Scenes)

“Calamity Jack” is a brilliant sequel to Shannon and Dean Hale’s ever popular classic “Rapunzel’s Revenge” and this graphic novel is a great retelling of the classic fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk.” “Calamity Jack” is one of the most brilliant sequels that both adults and children will love for ages.

Ever since Jack was a little child, he would always scheme to take other people’s possessions to the distress of his hardworking mother.  One day, however, a giant named Blunderboar came in to Jack’s mother’s store and while he brought some bread from her, his head smashes the top of the doorway to the store, which upset both Jack and his mother since Blunderboar refused to pay for the damage and Jack and his mother did not have enough money to fix it.

So Jack hatched a plan to go into Blunderboar’s penthouse to steal his goose to get back at Blunderboar, unfortunately Jack does not know how to get into Blunderboar’s penthouse.  So, Jack buys some magic beans from a mysterious person and when Jack threw the beans into the ground, they grew into a beanstalk and Jack was able to climb onto the beanstalk and get inside Blunderboar’s penthouse and steal the goose that laid the golden eggs.  Unfortunately, the beanstalk ending up uprooting Blunderboar’s penthouse and Jack accidentally killed one of Blunderboar’s henchmen when he was trying to cut down the beanstalk to stop it from uprooting Blunderboar’s penthouse.  After Jack escapes from the city, Blunderboar is furious and he vows to get back at Jack at all costs.

Now that Jack has met up with Rapunzel in the last book, he and Rapunzel go back to Jack’s hometown and they discovered that Blunderboar has taken over the city while vicious ant people terrorize the citizens.  Along with their new ally, Freddie, Rapunzel and Jack try to save the people from Blunderboar’s tyranny.

Shannon and Dean Hale have done it again in this classic retelling of a popular tale “Jack and the Beanstalk” and they made Jack in this tale just as shrewd and cunning as his original version and children will love the “Jack and the Beanstalk” reference in this book as it is more modernized since Jack lives in a city in this version.  Also, Shannon and Dean Hale has done a superb job at telling the story from Jack’s point of view instead of Rapunzel’s, making the audience relate more to Jack as he struggles to become one of the good guys.  Nathan Hale’s illustrations are much more improved in this book as the characters look much smoother than in “Rapunzel’s Revenge” as Jack and Rapunzel’s faces look much smoother and less rough.  Also, Nathan Hale makes the scenery much different in this book as the book takes place in a city rather than the western ranch city in “Rapunzel’s Revenge” and the city looks like a city from the 1600s.

“Calamity Jack” is a great sequel to a brilliant retelling of a classic fairy tale that adults and children will love for many years.  I would recommend this book from children ages six and up since small children might not understand the fairy tale parody in this book.

[BOOK REVIEW] Owen by Kevin Henkes

Title:  Owen

Author:  Kevin Henkes

Genre: Animals / Childhood / Comedy

Year Published: 1993

Year Read:  1993

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Series: Mouse Books #6

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 4+  (Nothing Objectionable)

Buy on:  Amazon  //  Book Depository 

“Owen” is a cute children’s book written from the mind of Kevin Henkes. The book relates the story of how children are usually attracted to certain objects, such as a blanket, whenever they are young of age. “Owen” was also the winner of the Caldecott Honor Book and has been greatly received for many years.

Kevin Henkes’ illustrations are truly highlighted in this story as the main characters are mainly mice which is the basis for most of his books. Kevin Henkes also vividly illustrates the various reactions on the characters such as, Owen’s look of surprise when he smells the vinegar on his blanket and the somewhat sneaky expression on Mrs. Tweezers’ face as she gives various advice about what Owen’s parents should do about the blanket. The illustrations are also extremely colorful on every page and gives life to the story. The plot of the book is extremely cute as the book details how a young mouse refuses to part with his blanket because the blanket has become Owen’s best friend, just as a teddy bear would become a young child’s best friend before he or she goes to school and meet new people.

“Owen” is a great children’s book about the importance of how certain objects such as a blanket, would help make a child feel more comfortable about themselves by talking or spending time with an object that acts as a real person. Therefore, the child would improve his or her social skills when they come to school by being more trusting of other children just like the child would be trusting towards their blanket or other objects. “Owen” will surely please children ages four or younger for its title character, Owen, and adults would appreciate the solution to Owen still having his blanket but carrying it in a more mature way.

* 1994 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Nominee for Picture Book - Honor Book
* 1994 Caldecott Honor