Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cozy Classics: Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, by Jack Wang and Holman Wang (and Charlotte Brontë)

Cozy Classics: Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre
Authors: Jack and Holman Wang (and Charlotte Brontë)
Series: Cozy Classics
Publisher: Simply Read Books
Publication Date: November 20, 2013
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon





Cozy Classics: Oliver Twist, by Jack Wang and Holman Wang

Cozy Classics: Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist
Authors: Jack and Holman Wang (and Charles Dickens)
Publisher: Simply Read Books
Publication Date: December 5, 2013
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon







Oh I love these Cozy Classics so much! I love just about everything about them. I love how adorable the felted dolls are, and how intricately they're posed in each scene with detailed backgrounds, and how the background of the first page is always the first page of the actual book. They're just fantastic!


Cozy Classics: Emma, by Jack Wang and Holman Wang

Cozy Classics: Jane Austen's Emma
Authors: Jack and Holman Wang (and Jane Austen)
Publisher: Simply Read Books
Publication Date: December 5, 2013
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon



Yay! It's a new crop of Cozy Classics! I have to say, I'm not always a fan of the trend of children's books that are mostly just for adults, whether it's because they reference beloved classic literature or favourite movies or whatever. But I love these! I just can't get enough of them.

What makes these books so special is the illustrations. Those adorable knitted dolls that are posed and photographed are amazing. Plus I love all the work that goes into creating each of the backgrounds. And the juxtaposition of all that work next to a simple one-word text on the facing page is very charming.


Friday, February 21, 2014

I should try networking more...do other bloggers have trouble remembering to interact with others?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hello! Lately I've been thinking that I should probably do more to, I don't know, promote my blog or connect with other bloggers. It's one of those things that I keep meaning to do but, honestly, my "things I keep meaning to do" list is massive. Also, "write down my things I mean to do" is the first thing on the list, which is currently just in my head. Does anyone else have that problem?

But here's a start. You can now follow me on Bloglovin! It's like an all-in-one blog feed website where you follow your favourite blogs and they send you updates in your email or Facebook or something. It's kind of like Feedspot, I think (which may be my next post?).

This isn't a sponsored post, by the way, which is probably obvious from the fact that I'm doing a terrible job of explaining what Bloglovin is. Just wait until I try to sort out my BookLikes account (seriously, if anyone can help me with that...).

Oh this has been a terrible blog post. Now I feel bad. Quick! Videos of large cats in big boxes!


Whew! Saved it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Oh thank the heavens! There's a new website that checks your grammar for you (semi-sponsored post*)

Try Grammarly's grammar check free of charge because you can't keep blaming auto-correct for everything.

Grammarly.com is a new website that takes spell check programs to the next level. It checks your spelling, grammar and punctuation. It checks your work for possible plagiarism. It even points out your run-on sentences (which is good because otherwise this whole paragraph would have been one long sentence). In short, it's everything the Internet needs.

Not sure if you need Grammarly? Maybe you don't, but I bet you know someone who does. And I bet that person annoys the crap out of you every time they send you a message or post a comment on your Facebook wall, but you're too polite to say so. Sound familiar? Im shure its tru. (See what I did there?) Instead of losing your mind, send them a link. They may not thank you, but their improved grammar will be all the thanks you need.

This is a "someecard" that I made about grammar frustration. Someecards doesn't officially endorse Grammarly, nor does Grammarly endorse Someecards. I just thought it was a funny card because that's how I feel when I read poorly edited comments on the internet (argghhh!!).

*I received an email from Grammarly.com saying that if I mentioned them in a blog post they would send me an Amazon gift certificate. Sweet! I'm happy to accept that because I really do like their website and don't mind saying so. All of the opinions expressed here are strictly my own (as are any grammatical errors, which I hope I didn't make, but now I'm very paranoid about it).




Thursday, February 13, 2014

Just in time for Valentine's Day! MURDER MURDER MURDER! Bloody TV Shows I'm obsessed with...and introducing a NEW BLOG!

I read a lot. I really do. But in the winter time when it's yucky out and I'm tired and everybody's always sick ALL THE TIME, sometimes I just want to curl up and watch TV. And what's better than shows about murder? So cozy.

Here's what I've been obsessed with lately:


The Little Moose Who Couldn't Go to Sleep (A Maynard Moose Tale), by Willy Claflin (illustrated by James Stimson)

The Little Moose Who Couldn't Go to Sleep
A Maynard Moose Tale
Author: Willy Claflin
Illustrator: James Stimson
Publisher: August House
Publication Date: March 7, 2014
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bearful Bear and His New Moves, by Anna Lee Everhart (illustrated by Marcie Ferron)

Bearful Bear and His New Moves
Author: Anna Lee Everhart
Illustrator: Marcie Ferron
Publisher: BQB Publishing
Publication Date: December 16, 2011
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon




Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs (audiobook narrated by Jesse Bernstein)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Audiobook Narrator: Jesse Bernstein
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
Audiobook published by Random House Audio, June 10, 2011
Source: my local library (hardcover, ebook, and audiobook)
View on Amazon


I think this is my favourite book from Quirk Books to date. I've always thought of them as just a novelty publishing house, best known for the Worst-Case Scenario guides and all of those Pride and Prejudice and Zombies type books. They make funny gifts, but they're not...well, they're not going to make anybody's list of favourite books. That is until now.



Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sleep Tight, Anna Banana, by Dominique Roques (illustrated by Alexis Dormal)

Sleep Tight, Anna Banana!
Author: Dominique Roques
Illustrator: Alexis Dormal
Publisher: First Second Books
Publication Date: June 17, 2004
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon

I read this book on my own while my four-year-old was asleep and I loved it so much I almost wanted to wake her up to share it with her right away. Then I realized that was madness. But wanting to forego sleep to enjoy a good book is pretty much the plot of this hilarious children's picture book.



Water Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas (illustrated by Violeta Dabija)

Water Can Be...
Author: Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrator: Violeta Dabija
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Millbrook Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon



Plesiosaur Peril, by Daniel Loxton (illustrated by Daniel Loxton and Jim W.W. Smith)

Plesiosaur Peril
Author: Daniel Loxton
Illustrators: Daniel Loxton and Jim W.W. Smith
Series: Tales of Prehistoric Life
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon



William Shakespeare's Star Wars, by Ian Doescher (illustrated by Nicolas Delort)

William Shakespeare's Star Wars:
Verily. A New Hope
Author: Ian Doescher
Illustrator: Nicolas Delort
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Source: Edelweiss
View on Amazon


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Little Monkey Calms Down, by Michael Dahl (illustrated by Oriol Vidal)

Little Monkey Calms Down
Author: Michael Dahl
Illustrator: Oriol Vidal
Series: Hello Genius
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers/ Picture Window Books
Publication Date: February 1, 2014
View on Amazon

Source: NetGalley


A Dream So Big: Our Unlikely Journey to End the Tears of Hunger, by Steve Peifer (with Gregg Lewis)

A Dream So Big:
Our Unlikely Journey to End the Tears of Hunger
Authors: Steve Peifer and Gregg Lewis
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: March 19, 2013













Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly, by Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly
A Novella
Series: Hercule Poirot Mysteries
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Witness Impulse/HarperCollins
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
Source: Edelweiss
View on Amazon




Friday, February 7, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Eddie and Dog, by Alison Brown


Eddie and Dog
Author/Illustrator: Alison Brown
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Publication Date: February 1, 2014
Source: NetGalley



The Silent Wife, by A.S.A. Harrison (audiobook narrated by Karen White and Donald Corren)

The Silent Wife
Author: A.S.A. Harrison
Audiobook Narrators: Karen White and Donald Corren
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Source: Goodreads (paperback from the publisher), audiobook from local library
View on Amazon




A Bed for Fred, by Lori Zoss (illustrated by Cheri Polk)

A Bed for Fred
Author: Lori Zoss
Illustrator: Cheri Polk
Publisher: Hugo House Publishers
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon




I had high hopes for this book based solely on the cover, but I was disappointed. The writing is poor and relies far too much on long passages of mediocre rhymes that are both trite and overwrought. And the art is simply not strong enough to make up for it (of course even the best art cannot compensate for bad writing, but it can sometimes help gloss over minor flaws).

The real problem here is the plot. Even the simplest of children's books must at least make sense. The premise is that a puppy named Fred discovers one day that both his bed and his father (also a dog) are missing. He spends the day searching for them only to discover that his father was out getting a new bed for Fred, as he had apparently outgrown the old one. This doesn't make any sense for a number of reasons. First of all, Fred is depicted as more dog-like than person-like (he sleeps on the floor in a house, he doesn't wear clothes) so he should have dog-like problems. Dogs don't have their beds taken away by their fathers. It makes no sense.

It's obviously meant to be an allegory for toddlers outgoing their baby beds and getting new ones, but it's a clumsy allegory. It would have been better if Fred were a "person-like animal" throughout, like Franklin or Arthur. Then at least it would have made sense.

Of course even if we accepted that this book was meant to help toddlers through the transition or getting a big kid bed, I'd still question how helpful it would be. I hardly think the notion of having your dad go missing for a whole day only to find out he threw your bed away without telling you would be one that most children would find comforting.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Death of a Policeman, by M.C. Beaton (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery)

Death of a Policeman
A Hamish Macbeth Mystery
Author: M.C. Beaton
Publisher: Grand Central
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon



M.C. Beaton is back! After far too many disappointing entries into what I had started calling my "formerly favourite series," I can honestly say that M.C. Beaton has penned the best Hamish Macbeth mystery in years. I had no expectation that I would like this--I've been sorely disappointed by the last several books--but I can't help myself. I just have to read every new Hamish Macbeth as soon as it comes out. I keep hoping that the next one will be as good as the earlier ones that made me fall in love with the series in the first place (like Death of a Prankster or Death of a Poisoned Pen). And, I'm happy to say, this one finally was!

I'll admit when I first read the title part of me wondered if the policeman in question was Macbeth himself, whether this would be the last in the series. Actually, the thought was exciting. I felt the series had gotten so stale and predictable that the only thing that grew from book to book was the body count (remember Death of a Chimney Sweep?). I thought a proper death would be a fine end to great character. Without giving too much away, I will say that my predictions were wrong and it is not his own death that Hamish must investigate.

But if Beaton has more books like this in her, I'm happy to see the series continue on. She avoided the clichés that have plagued the last few novels. Never once did she insist that "Hamish's speech became more sibilant when he was angry" for instance (which was one of my complaints in Death of Yesterday). Even the description of his pets (a dog and a wild cat) was done in a new way (researchers come to Lochdubh to find a rare wild cat, rather than just having Hamish's neighbours complain about his "beasties").

And the addition of his sidekick, Dick, is a surprisingly welcome one. Dick can make all the mistakes--romantic and otherwise--that we've previously seen Hamish make over and over and over again, so it doesn't seem so silly that Hamish never learns from his mistakes. Sure, all the characters age at the rate of comic strip characters, but I'll let that slide if the writing remains fresh. After all, how old should Hercule Poirot have been by the time Agatha Christie published his last case?

I was pleased with the book from start to finish. I was able to figure out both the killer and the red herrings, but in a way that was pleasing rather than boring. And the anticlimax was relevant and not needlessly long (as I had complained in previous books, like my reviews for Death of a Kingfisher or Death of a Witch). Sure, there were some unsettling attitudes towards things like domestic violence, sexual assault and drunk driving, as there are in most of the books in this series (I was particularly bothered by that in Death of a Glutton), but it's within the realm of "backwards attitudes in this particular village" instead of "gratuitous and vulgar."

I'm so glad I stuck with this series because I really loved this book!

The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires

The Most Magnificent Thing
Author/Illustrator: Ashley Spires
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon





The Most Magnificent Thing is a charming story about a "regular girl" and her pug, who is also her best friend in the whole world. One day this regular girl--who is referred to only as "she"--decides to build THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING. It's not clear until the end just WHAT the most magnificent thing IS, but it is clear that the girl and her "assistant" are working very hard to build it. It's also clear that it's not going well. Everything she tries is not quite right. After a while she gets mad and her brain is full of "not right things" until she has a tantrum and quits. Luckily her dog knows just how to help.


There was a lot about this book that I loved. First, I loved that it was a little girl building things. There's definitely a gender bias in a lot of children's books that has little boys building or playing with trucks or playing sports, and little girls drawing or baking or playing dress-up. So I always like it when a children's book doesn't just reinforce these stereotypes.


Second, I loved the buildup to the girl's tantrum because I think it's something a lot of little kids can relate to . Or at least their parents can. And I liked that she calmed down and figured it all out in the end.


Magda's Take:
One thing that Magda and I disagreed on was the girl's name (or lack thereof). I would have preferred if she and the dog had names, but Magda said she liked it that they didn't. She asked to read the book a second time, and this time she gave them names. It became the story of a regular girl named Amelia and her dog, Chap. Perfect!

About the Author:
I don't know much of Ashley Spires' other work. I haven't read the Binky books, for which I think she is best known. But she is the illustrator of The Red Shoes, by Eleri Glass, which is an absolute favourite in our house.


Animal Alphabet, by DK Publishing

Animal Alphabet
Lift the flaps from A-Z!
Publisher: DK Publishing
Publication Date: March 17, 2014
Source: Edelweiss
View on Amazon




I love DK books. They have produced some of my favourite popular reference books and some of my favourite non-fiction to share with my child. They're always well designed, a perfect balance between clean, bright graphics and lots and lots of information.

Unfortunately I'm not sure I can provide a fully informative review of this particular title. It's an alphabet book, and the text and pictures look fantastic, but it's also a "lift-the-flap" book. I'm afraid I'm not getting the full effect just by looking at the digital review copy I received.


Based on what I've seen, I think this book is probably another winner from DK (I'd give it a 4 star rating, based on the review copy). But it's hard to fully appreciate any 3-D book (pop-up, fold-out, lift-the-flap, etc.) based on the digital version only.


But I like the pictures and fonts and all the things I can judge without seeing the final print edition. I especially like that the small letter 'a' and the small letter 'g' are written in a way that is similar to how you actually write or print them, rather than how you typically see them in books (with extra serifs and things). You wouldn't believe how many books for small children forget to do this.

See what I mean? That's Times New Roman on the left and some other font on the right (sorry, I'm terrible at font names).
a a

g


Anyway, it's a little thing, but it really helps when children are learning to read and write if the letters in the book look like the letters they're supposed to learn.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Body in the Sleigh (A Faith Fairchild Mystery), by Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Sleigh
A Faith Fairchild Mystery
Author: Katherine Hall Page
Series: Faith Fairchild
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: October 27, 2009
Source: my local library
View on Amazon


I've read at least one Faith Fairchild mystery before and I enjoyed it, but this one didn't quite live up to my expectations. It started off very promising but the pace slowed to a crawl at times and it seemed the author was still laying down establishing details and character background right up to the last page.

Plus, the titular murder--the so-called body in the sleigh--takes a back seat to the far more interesting story of the baby in the manger (very much alive, thankfully). If that sounds like a Christmas cliché it's because it's meant to. Katherine Hall Page weaves a tale of an abandoned baby named Christopher found in a barn by a spinster goat farmer named--of course--Mary. And on Christmas Eve no less. As trite as it all sounds, I did find it engaging and I could happily read more about Mary and her goats.

The rest of the book, unfortunately, was less memorable. In fact I can barely remember why the "body in the sleigh" was killed or by whom, and I literally just finished reading it ten minutes ago. I do know that it was finally unravelled at the very end of the book and by that time I wasn't all that invested anymore. It was related--sort of--to the baby in the barn but that was the only storyline I found myself caring much about (the book was sort of a "Mary's goats" mystery more than a "Faith Fairchild" one).

All in all, I'd say this book had great elements--really great at times, in fact--but they didn't add up to a great book.

The Other Bears, by Michael Thompson

The Other Bears
Author/Illustrator: Michael Thompson
Publisher: Starbright Books
Publication Date: October 30, 2013
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon




I'm glad I read this one before showing it to my four-year-old. It's so filled with ethnic stereotypes that I don't plan to read it to her at all.

The premise is that a couple of koala bears (which aren't actually bears, but these koalas like to think of themselves that way) are irritated when a series of other bear families move into their neighbourhood. Soon there are polar bears, black bears, brown bears, pandas and more. The koalas are grumpy about all of it, but their kids have fun playing with all the new bear cubs.



It's clear that the point of this book is to be a lesson about accepting people's differences, particularly people from other cultures. But that point is handled so heavy-handedly that the book itself isn't very good.

First, the "differences" that each of these bears brings is just a series of ethnic stereotypes about people from those regions. For instance, the panda bears show up wearing traditional Chinese silk jackets (changshan, I think?) and driving a rickshaw. You know, because they're from China. But then they're able to win over the koala bears who "love their food," which is apparently a plate of Chinese noodles served with chopsticks (shouldn't it just be bamboo shoots since they're PANDAS?). It goes on like that for every bear.


And for a book about accepting differences, there is no character development in these bears AT ALL. The koala parents are just xenophobic racists (sorry, "grumpy") who hate all the new bears for superficial reasons ("I don't like their shoes," "I don't like their ears") until their kids declare they do like them for equally superficial reasons ("we love their food," "we love their songs"). At no point do any of the "other bears" actually get to say anything.

And after all that, the illustrations aren't even that good either. There's something a little unfinished about them, like they were done by someone who can draw but isn't really an artist.

The bottom line is that I really didn't like this book and can't recommend it at all.

100 Hungry Monkeys! by Masayuki Sebe

100 Hungry Monkeys!
Author/Illustrator: Masayuki Sebe
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Source: NetGalley
View on Amazon




See, now THIS is how you do a "100 counting" book for kids! It's not a 1-100 counting book per se because there are 100 monkeys on every page, but it's fantastically fun to read. Every page is full of little extras the reader can find (monkeys wearing silly hats or doing silly things, various fish, flowers, puzzles, etc.). Of course the book can still be enjoyed without finding all the extras. It's a cute story about 100 hungry monkeys who find food, escape a monster, befriend said monster, have a party and go to sleep.


All the extra details on each page makes it a fun book for kids to read again and again, and it also makes it a book that children of many ages can enjoy.


I recently reviewed another book, 100 Bears, and everything that that book was missing, this book has.


Magda's Take:
"I loved 100 Hungry Monkeys! It was so good and so funny!"
Magda had a lot of fun spotting all the monkeys doing silly things, but the digital review copy we received could only be viewed one page at a time (instead of as a two-page spread) so I think we'll both enjoy it even more when we get our hands on a print copy (I can't wait!).

Saturday, February 1, 2014

100 Bears, by Magali Bardos

100 Bears
Author/Illustrator: Magali Bardos
Publisher: Flying Eye Books/Nobrow
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Originally published as Jusqu'à 100 by Actes Sud, September 15, 2012)
Source: Edelweiss
View on Amazon.com
View original French on Amazon.ca

 Oh lord. I understand the appeal of this book, but...

Okay, good things first. The illustrations are beautiful--they're colourful and clever and chock-full of retro appeal. In fact I'd say that the "retro appeal" of the pictures is the whole point of the book (it's not actually "retro"--the original French version was only published a year and a half ago--but it definitely has a nostalgic style).But as to how successful it is as a children's book, well...

As a counting book it's not that great. Yes, there are the correct number to "things" on each page, from one to a hundred, but they neither connect as a narrative nor does each page work entirely on its own. In other words, the book makes no sense.

Besides that, at over 50 pages I think that children young enough to enjoy a counting book might get bored or frustrated before finishing this one. Perhaps if there was more to look at on each page (like an I Spy book or a Richard Scarry book, or even the far superior 100 Hungry Monkeys!). As it is, each page is very busy but also quite monotonous.

All in all it's the sort of book that adults might buy for children because they themselves like the artwork, but that, I think, is its main appeal.

Also, this just needs to be said: There are not 100 bears at the end of the book! Why even call the book that? Was I supposed to count how many bears appear in the whole book? That is a lot less fun than it might seem. It drove me nuts.



Magda's Take:
My four-year-old did not ask to read this a second time. In fact she wasn't interested in reading it all the way through the first time. At first she was excited that it might be in French (like the preview pictures I got from the publisher) but we only got he English version as a digital review copy. then by the time we got to the 7 hunters using 8 guns to fire 9 shots at 10 butterflies (or something like that), Magda was ready to abandon it altogether.

Gingerbread Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine and Leslie Meier

Gingerbread Cookie Murder
Authors: Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine and Leslie Meier
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
Source: my local library
View on Amazon




This is actually a three-in-one book with three separate stories, all with gingerbread cookie themes, by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine and Leslie Meier. (Sorry for the lateness of this Christmas-themed review, but I usually don't even get a chance to read my Christmas-themed mysteries until January as it is!)

Gingerbread Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke (A Hannah Swensen Mystery)
The characters are likeable enough--a professional baker and amateur sleuth, what could be cozier?--but the plot is seriously flawed. The killer's motive makes absolutely no sense. I don't want to reveal too much but I honestly don't understand how the author's friends and editors let it get past the first draft without some serious questions about the ending. It was very frustrating. But it did include an awful lot of delicious sounding recipes, so that's something at least.


The Dangers of Gingerbread Cookies, by Laura Levine (A Jaine Austen Mystery)
Not bad. The characters have some amusing eccentricities, like the main character's parents' addiction to the home shopping network and the retirement community's obsession with amateur theatre. And I loved the use of the gingerbread cookie theme in this one--the community theatre group is putting on an original Christmas play featuring a giant flying gingerbread man who teaches people the true meaning of Christmas. It sounds so hilariously dreadful that I wish it were real.

But when the gingerbread man's flying cable is cut, our heroine suspects murder. She spends the rest of the story jumping from person to person, uncovering motives everywhere, before finally stumbling on the truth. I couldn't help thinking the whole thing could have been solved much quicker with a fingerprint kit and a couple of witness statements. Ah well...that's so often the case with cozies, isn't it?


Gingerbread Cookies and Gunshots, by Leslie Meier (A Lucy Stone Mystery)
This was by far the most heart-wrenching of the three stories because the central crime was not a murder but the kidnapping of a young child (who happened to be about the same age as my own child, so it was especially terrifying). I was fairly riveted, I must say. The only thing that was a bit of a letdown was the ending. It was more of a whimper than a bang. I kept waiting for a big reveal at the end that never came, or at least not as dramatically as I'd expected. Even the main character seemed to fell unresolved by the end, which was an odd way to finish a story, I thought. The lack of a satisfying ending made the otherwise compelling story feel a bit pointless.


Lydia's Party, by Margaret Hawkins

Lydia's Party
Author: Margaret Hawkins
Publisher: Penguin/Viking
Publication Date: January 27, 2014
Source: Goodreads
View on Amazon




Oh rarest of all things! A book I actually read in the first week I received it! I've been so desperately behind in my reading that many of my books have sat on my shelf for months, waiting to be read. I'm not sure what prompted me to read this one right away. Perhaps it was the fact that it takes place at this exact time of year.

Every year Lydia hosts a party for her female friends the last week of January. She calls it her Bleak Midwinter Bash and it started as a Christmas party that she didn't have time to organize in December (I can relate), but has turned into a beloved tradition. This year's party may be more "bleak" than "bash," however, since Lydia has an announcement to make that will shock and sadden her friends.

It reminds me a little of ... oh wait, if I say what it reminds me of it might give away some spoilers. I'll add a jump so you can choose whether or not to continue reading...


The Wonderful Egg, by Dahlov Ipcar

The Wonderful Egg
Author/Illustrator: Dahlov Ipcar
Publisher: Nobrow/Flying Eye Books
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
(Originally published: Knopf, 1958)
Source: Edelweiss
View on Amazon


Originally published in 1958, The Wonderful Egg is being republished this spring by Flying Eye Books (an imprint of Nobrow).I sometimes find it harder to be critical of children's books than adult books for some reason, but I have to be honest. There was so much about this book that bothered me. This is what happens when you republish a book for nostalgia reasons but don't update the wrong information throughout it. You get this book. A supposedly educational book about dinosaurs with beautiful pictures and maddeningly incorrect information. On every page. Oh it made my brain hurt. Even my four-year-old was spotting the errors. "That's not a dinosaur!" "The flying ones were reptiles, but not dinosaurs!" "Wait, there were mammals alive at that time too!"


Don't be fooled by this promise of educational information. There is incorrect information on virtually EVERY PAGE.

Okay, "more than one hundred million years ago" is very specific. Not all the dinosaurs in the book existed at the same time "more than 100 million years ago" but I'll let that go.

"The only animals that lived in the green jungles of the world were the dinosaurs." Well that's just flat-out wrong. There were other prehistoric animals besides dinosaurs! There was never a time in which the ONLY animals were dinosaurs. Also "other huge reptiles...even flew through the air"? Yes, they were OTHER REPTILES, but they WERE NOT DINOSAURS. Prehistoric reptiles who flew or who lived exclusively in the water WERE NOT DINOSAURS. 

The rest of the book goes on to describe dinosaur after dinosaur (and quite a few that aren't even dinosaurs) whose egg it might be. And of course every single one of those dinosaurs is referred to as "he" because why not? That makes sense.

Oh FFS. "Brontosaurus"? NOT A REAL DINOSAUR. It's the popular but incorrect name for the Apatosaurus. This was settled, like, a hundred years ago. THIS IS WHY YOU UPDATE YOUR SO-CALLED EDUCATIONAL BOOKS, PEOPLE.

And then, after all that the "wonderful egg" turns out not to be a dinosaur egg at all, but the "very first bird egg ever." Uh, what? The book then goes on to describe Archaeopteryx, which at one time was referred to as "the first bird" but even this information is very outdated. There isn't really a "first bird" since there were bird-like reptiles and reptilian prehistoric birds. And Archaeopteryx was very reptilian, in that it had claws at the end of its wings and a full set of teeth. But this book describes it as "the very first song bird" with the "very first song ever heard in the world." Uh no. No. No no noooooo.

It's clear to me that the biggest selling feature of this book is the artwork and the nostalgia it is supposed to inspire. Maybe that would be fine if it wasn't presented as educational. If you really want to republish a dinosaur book with beautiful pictures but completely wrong info, perhaps you should also get permission to update the text.