Tag Archives: children’s literature

Mini Review: Play with Me! by Michelle Lee

playwithmeEver on the lookout for new and unique books for my young niece, I stumbled upon this at a bookstore and thought it would be perfect. While I absolutely loved the darling illustrations and how the dialogue seemed to dance across the page, I wish the ending was a bit heavier hitting. This is ultimately a story about compromise: learning that what you want to do might not be what others want to do and that sometimes you have to come up with a new idea that either satisfies both of you or pick a solo activity. However, the book concludes with one of the characters suggesting a new activity at the very end of the book, without hinting that it was a compromise at all. Unless an adult works in that lesson, I think it might hard for a very young reader to take away the main message.

Publication Date: 24 January 2017 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young ReadersFormat: Hardcover.

Author/Illustrator: Michelle Lee web

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Mini Review: The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket

themiserablemillAfter being a little disappointed with The Wide Window, the third book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, I am pleased that The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket picked up the pace! The plot of this book revolves around our favorite Baudelaire orphans being sent to live at a wood mill, where they’re expected to serve as employees, despite obviously being children, to earn their keep. Their caretaker intends for them to work there until Violet, the eldest, turns 18 and inherits her family’s fortune and will have enough wealth to take care of herself and her siblings. Klaus gets mucked around the most in this novel, as there’s a major plot line regarding his glasses being broken and repaired several times. This book features a bit more physical/emotional/verbal abuse than either books 2 or 3 because the primary caretaker in this book does not care for the Baudelaire orphans at all, so there are no pleasant moments like those that sometimes occurred with Uncle Monty and Aunt Josephine.

These are the perfect books to pick up when I feel like I’m in a reading rut — there’s so quick and familiar that they can add a little fun to my reading routine if it’s been lacking. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find the fifth book, The Austere Academy, at a resale shop quite yet, so I’ll have to put off counting on this series to be my reading pick me up until I can get my hands on a good condition version of the book that matches the style of my other books in this collection.

And here is my favorite quote from Book the Fourth:

“As I’m sure you know, whenever there is a mirror around, it is almost impossible not to take a look at yourself. Even though we all know what we look like, we all like just to look at our reflections, if only to see how we’re doing.” (p. 45)

Publication Date: 15 April 2000 by ScholasticFormat: Hardcover.

Author: Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) web/facebook/twitter

Illustrator: Brett Helquist web

Mini Review: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

reptileroomI’m very slowly making my way through an A Series of Unfortunate Events reread — a series I loved as a child since I was a tinge morbid and macabre. I’m slowly purchasing these books individually and sequentially through thrift store finds. Despite purchasing this in April 2015, I didn’t start the second book until Netflix released their adaptation of the series. I want to complete re-reading the first four in the series before beginning the Netflix series as the first season covers Books 1 – 4. Luckily, I’ve already snagged books 3 and 4 so I can easily snap them up whenever I’m feeling exhausted from graduate school reading.

These are so quick and fun to reread as an adult because you can catch references to prolific writers/artists/creatives that likely went over your little kid brain. I only gave the second in the series 4 stars as it’s not one of the books that I found most memorable upon reflection. That said, it was still a quite enjoyable read though!

Mini Review: Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

onceuponamarigoldMy high school bestie is recently engaged and I was trying to think of something I could send her to commemorate her snazzy new life stage. Enter: book we both loved during our childhood that has a marriage-centered plot. While this book doesn’t stand up as well in adulthood as I remembered it, it was still fun to re-dive into this read that we both enjoyed as kids. I scribbled in the margins things relevant to her own wedding planning so hopefully she views this as a fun gift and associates fond memories with it when she rereads it or sees it on her bookshelf in the future. Rereading was a bit of a slog through the first 100 pages, but it picked up quickly thereafter and was closer to the book I remember reading. It’s a very sanitized love story that an 8 – 10 year old would find cute.

This book is the first in a trilogy, but I never read the subsequent books as a child and have no desire to complete the series as an adult either.

peter pan by j. m. barrie

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie audiobook cover

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie audiobook cover

After being completely obsessed with Jim Dale’s narration of the Harry Potter audiobooks, I sought a new read that he also narrated. Luckily, I quickly found a match on my to-read list in the form of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie.

I’ve had a small fascination with Peter Pan for a while, likely connected to the fact that some writers have deemed my generation the “Peter Pan generation” because of our desire to be children for a lengthier period of time than our predecessors. However, instead of attempting to stay a child forever, I dove-tailed a teensy bit and decided to immerse myself into the world of children’s culture and media as my occupation. Subsequently, I’ve been trying to read some of the children’s literature classics that I haven’t read yet and dive back into those I really want to re-read.

While I was in high school, I had tried to read Peter Pan in physical book form and couldn’t get into it at all because I felt like it was too childishly written and I wasn’t in a mental space to appreciate that. To me, it felt like a story that needed to be told to me, which makes sense since the story was originally written as a play and thus felt like it needed to be performed in some way for me to appreciate it. Later that year, I saw Peter Pan performed in San Francisco the summer before I left for college… and let’s just say, I felt quite a few emotions.

That said, there are parts of the text that are definitely dated which makes it hard for me to recommend this book as a read for children who aren’t aware enough to understand the historical and social climate that existed when this text was first published. When most American individuals read novels like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, they are likely reading it as part of a middle or high school curriculum with English teachers who explain the historical and social context that existed when the novel was written. When most people encounter the story of Peter Pan in whatever format they consume, they are too young to understand some of the dated language (every time the phrase “red skins” was used I cringed). Thus for those younger audiences (2-12 year olds), I think they should encounter a newer version rather than the original text that has adjusted some of the language and removed some of the racial undertones that seep into the story. Unfortunately, I haven’t read such a version so I’m not able to recommend a specific publication. Because of this, I think the best time to listen to this book is when you’re a young adult, perhaps reflecting on your own experience with childhood, but are also aware enough to recognize some of the faults that exist within the original text.

If you choose to read Peter Pan, I definitely recommend reading the story in audiobook format, specifically the Jim Dale version if possible, over a physical copy.

On that note: if you have any recommendations for other literary works performed by Jim Dale, please send them my way!

Original Publication Date: 11 October 1911 by Scribner. Format: Digital Audiobook from Listening Library.

Author: J. M. Barrie wiki

Narrator: Jim Dale web