Thursday, January 6, 2011

Best Books of 2010? Part Deux

Yesterday I reviewed the first half of Amazon's picks for Best Children's Books of 2010. Today we finish the list. If you like, you can look at the whole Amazon list here, and of course you can read my earlier post on the first 5 books on the list.

Brontorina, by James Howe. I like this one. Brontorina is trying something that may well not work out -- that takes some courage. The other children are portrayed as helpful and encouraging -- something all children need help being from time to time. The illustrations do a lovely job of conveying just how big Brontorina is, filling the page with her, even to the point that parts of her are off the edges and not visible to the reader. And the problem is resolved not when Brontorina changes, but when everyone around her adapts to her differences. A nice selection.
Ladybug Girl at the Beach, by David Soman: This one gets only a tepid response from me. I know some people are enchanted with this series, but it's a "meh" for me. One book about Ladybug Girl was enough, I think. A fourth book seems too much. Sorry, this one's an SMP (Shameless Marketing Plug).

Of Thee I Sing: A letter to my daughters, by Barack Obama: Well, if it's not an SMP, it's certainly an SPP (Shameless Political Plug), but for all that it's actually kind of a nice book. The illustrations are gorgeous, always a good thing, and the subject matter -- all the qualities the writer either sees in or wants for his children, exemplified by Americans of the past. Children are introduced to Georgia O'Keefe, Billie Holliday, Cesar Chavez, Helen Keller, George's wonderfully multi-cultural, historical, even inspirational. For older kids, through 3rd grade.

Three Little Kittens, by Jerry Pinkney: Pinkney has been around quite a while, and has tackled classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes before. He's also a Caldecott Medal Winner for his 2009 The Lion and the Mouse, so anything by him packs a lot of talent and expertise. That's why I feel kind of guilty panning this one. The illustrations, normally a highlight in Pinkney's work, fell flat for me. Yes, they're lush, but they somehow looked like he was channelling Jan Brett and the fusion didn't quite work for me. And frankly, as nursery rhymes go, The Three Little Kittens is one of the more annoying ones out there, so for me this whole volume fell flat. Not an SMP, but not, for me, worth a mention on a top 10 list.

Dog Loves Books, by Louise Yates: I'm a sucker for book lovers and this one had me about 3 pages in. Dog does love books -- he loves the smell of them, the feel of them, he loves everything about them. He loves them so much, he decides to open a bookstore. This is a simple story with whimsical, soft watercolor illustrations that capture the imaginative journeys books can take us on. It will appeal to younger children, and maybe even encourage them to love books like dog does.

So there you have it: My highly opinionated take on Amazon's Best Books of 2010.

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