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review 2017-06-18 00:25
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? - Bill Martin Jr.,Eric Carle

Genre:  Animals / Colors / Children's / School


Year Published: 1967


Year Read:  2017

Publisher:  Henry Holt and Company

Series: Bill Martin's Bears #1

 

 

Bear

I have been an avid fan of Eric Carle’s works, especially of his well-known children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and one of the books that Eric Carle had worked on that I did not get the chance to read when I was little was “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” which was also written by Bill Martin Jr. All in all, this was one children’s book that children should definitely check out!

Since this story is extremely short, the summary will be brief.
Basically, the plot of this book is about the reader seeing various animals comment on what other beings they are looking at that precise moment, while each animal states a variation of this quote:

“Brown Bear, Brown Bear,
What do you see?
I see a red bird looking at me.

Red Bird, Red Bird,
What do you see?
I see a yellow duck looking at me.”

Wow! I cannot believe that I waited this long to finally pick up this popular children’s book and it was definitely worth reading in the end! I loved the simplistic style that Bill Martin Jr. brought to this book as the plot is basically having readers see various animals in different colors popping up in the book and commenting on other animals they have seen. I loved the fact that each animal is a different color such as having a blue horse and a purple cat as it brings a unique spin to the storytelling of this book and I was quietly anticipating seeing what kind of animals we will see pop up in this book. Eric Carle’s artwork is as always, a delight to look at as all the characters are rendered in paper cut outs which gives the book a creative look and I really loved the images of the different animals that show up in this book, such as the purple cat and the blue horse!

Bear

Even though there is nothing wrong with this book, I have to wonder why it was banned in the first place? Well, it turns out that when it was banned, the person who banned the book made a mistake regarding the author of this book, who is Bill Martin Jr. and the person thought that it was the same Bill Martin who wrote the book “Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation.” Now, I have never read any of the “other” Bill Martin’s books, but this was the first instance where a book was mistakenly banned for the wrong reasons and that got me curious yet annoyed.

Overall, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” is a truly cute book for children who want to have fun with identifying animals and colors all wrapped up into one book! I would recommend this book to children ages three and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book.


Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2017-06-18 00:06
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
The Adventures of Captain Underpants - Dav Pilkey

Genre:  Superheroes / Humor / School 


Year Published: 1997

 


Year Read:  2010

Publisher:  The Blue Sky Press

 

Series: Captain Underpants #1    

 

 

Underpants

Here comes that valiant hero, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS! “The Adventures of Captain Underpants” is a popular children’s book from the creative mind of Dav Pilkey and it is about the hilarious adventures of George and Harold as they try to trick their strict principal Mr. Krupp, but their trick ends up backfiring on them! “The Adventures of Captain Underpants” is absolutely one of the funniest books ever created!!!

“Tra-la-laaa!”

Man, I am going to be saying that throughout this review! Dav Pilkey has done a great job with both the illustrations and writing this book as they make this book full of pure hilarity and adventure! I love the way that Dav Pilkey writes this book in a sarcastic and humorous way as George and Harold are shown to be the greatest practical jokers in the history of all practical jokers as they are constantly pulling pranks on the school and somehow succeeding in their jokes. I really enjoyed the sarcastic humor in this book as it is smart and witty and it strongly reminded me of the humor in “The Stinky Cheeseman” as it plays a satire on the world of superheroes, except this time there is a superhero that runs around the city in his underwear! One of the most impressive characters in this book is Captain Underpants himself as he saves the world but saves it in his underwear! Captain Underpants sort of remind me of Quailman from the Nickelodeon show “Doug” as both characters saves the word in their underwear.

Quailman

Dav Pilkey’s illustrations are truly hilarious and childish in this book as George and Harold always have mischievous looks on their faces. George is drawn as a child with a tie and a black flat top hair and Harold is drawn to have puffy hair, which makes the two characters look hilarious to children. The illustration that stood out the most for me was the illustration of Captain Underpants himself as he has a bald head and is shown wearing a red cape and is mostly shown in his underwear! Also, I like to point out that the illustrations are in black and white; however Dav Pilkey’s illustrations are so hilarious and childish that many children will overlook the black and white coloring.

Parents should know that this book was banned in many schools because it was considered insensitive and encourages children to disobey authority (I did not really understand the insensitivity part, but I did understand the part about disobeying authority). The main thing that parents should be concerned about is the crude humor in this book such as Harold and George using a fake doggy doo-doo to trick a villain and the cheerleaders being described as having mucus running down their noses after they were exposed to the pepper in their pom-poms and parents who do not approve of crude humor might want to wait until their children get older to enjoy this book. As for the banning, I honestly do not believe in banning books and I thought that this was an enjoyable book for children of all ages, but it was not meant to be an educational book. I think that if the content in this book is really offensive for educational classes, then teachers could use this book as a special treat for children to read if children did some good deeds or did their schoolwork, sort of like a reward for their efforts.

“The Adventures of Captain Underpants” is truly a book that children of all ages can enjoy as it has great humor and spectacular characters and I think this book will be wonderful for children who love reading about superheroes and great humor! I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the crude humor might be a bit too inappropriate for smaller children.

“Tra-la-laa! Captain Underpants away!”

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2017-06-03 18:54
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier

Genre: School / Conformity / Controversial


Year Published: 1974


Number of Pages: 272 pages


Date Read: 8/30/2010   



Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf

 

 

 

Series: The Chocolate War #1

 

 

War

When I started reading this book, I was wondering to myself about why this book was banned in so many schools. Now, I know why. “The Chocolate War” is a popular young adult book by Robert Cormier and it is about how a young teenage boy named Jerry Renault refuses to sell chocolates at his school, Trinity and how he faces some hardships from Brother Leon and the Vigils because of his defiance. “The Chocolate War” might be a bit too disturbing and dark from some people, but this book is clearly one of the most memorable banned books ever written!

Oh my goodness! When I first heard about this book, I thought it was simply going to be about a group of kids fighting over who should eat the chocolates. But then, when I got around to reading this book, I realized that this book was all about the cruelties of the world such as manipulating various students into selling chocolates, even if you do not want to sell the chocolates and the consequences if you step out of line from the rest of the student body. Robert Cormier has certainly done an excellent job at making this book extremely disturbing and dark as he cleverly builds up tension around Jerry Renault’s defiance against selling the chocolates at the chocolate sale. The true highlights of this book were the characters themselves as they are realistic in personalities that you would normally see at any high school. Jerry Renault plays the underdog hero in this book as he tries to defend his stance in not selling the chocolates since he believes everyone has the right to do what you think is right and as it happens to every hero, he goes through so much hardship and danger when he defies the rules of Trinity. I find myself liking Jerry so much in this book since he tries hard to defend his rights, even if the other students do not believe in him and I love the idea that people will try to defend themselves when they believe that the activities set for them are not right for them. Some other interesting characters in this book are Archie Costello, the leader of the Vigils and Brother Leon. You will never know a truly terrible villain in any book until you read about what Brother Leon and Archie Costello has done to so many people in this book. Both Brother Leon and Archie Costello are truly frightening characters as they use manipulation and cruelty to get what they want from the school, to the point of using violence to get what they want.

Some people might have a problem with this book as it is extremely dark and disturbing and there is also extreme violence in this book, especially towards of the end of the book and that might not sit too well with people who do not like violence. Another problem that most people might have with this book is the language as this book has strong language and many people might be sensitive about such strong language being used. Probably, the reason why this book is dark and disturbing is because it was told from a villain’s point of view, which is either Archie or Brother Leon and in most books or movies that are told from a villain’s perspective of the world are usually dark and disturbing (well, except for certain movies or books where the villain is a bumbling fool and the story is more like a comedy or dark comedy rather than a horror story, like the cartoon series “Invader Zim” for example, where the story is told from a villain’s point of view, but is still hilarious to watch.

Invader Zim

Now for the reason why “The Chocolate War” was banned in so many schools. “The Chocolate War” was one of the most banned books in history because of its strong profanity, some sexual discussions, extreme violence, and the theme of bribery and manipulation being used in a negative way (that is a lot of reasons, is it not?) However, I did enjoy this book because of the original and exciting plot, even though it felt like the ending was a bit “incomplete” meaning that so much more could have been said about the event that concluded the book. Hopefully, the sequel, “Beyond the Chocolate War,” might conclude this book more properly, so that is definitely one of the books that are worth checking out. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading books from the villain’s point of view and love reading banned books.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-06-03 18:09
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble - William Steig

Genre: Family / Drama / Magic / Animals


Year Published: 1969


Year Read:  2008

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

 

 

Pebble

“Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” is one of William Steig’s earlier books and has proven to be the most emotional and heartwarming of all of his books. Also, this was William Steig’s first controversial book due to the image of the police being portrayed as pigs, even though I do not think that it is an issue because all the characters are animals, but it depends on how you view this issue. Anyway, William Steig’s dramatic storyline and illustrations has won this book a Caldecott Book Award and will surely be a treat to read.

William Steig has done an excellent job at beautifully detailing a young donkey’s attempts to change back to normal after a wish goes awry. Both children and adults will feel for Sylvester’s great sadness at not being able to tell his parents that he is still alive and his parents’ misery as they thought that their darling son was dead. William Steig’s illustrations are beautiful and detailed as he vividly draws the sad and happy emotions on Sylvester’s parents’ faces when they worried about their son, Sylvester. Also, the illustrations of the flowers and the trees and even the snow during the winter scene are memorizing as they provide a calm background the images.

***Small Rant:***

Alright, so everyone who has been browsing through various banned books knows that the reason why this book was banned was because of the image of the policemen being portrayed as pigs. First of all, I have an issue with this book being banned because of that reason. I mean, this is a book about TALKING ANIMALS, so what is wrong with the police being portrayed as pigs in a book about talking animals? Also, the main character is a DONKEY! So, that means that if the characters were switched and the main character was a pig and the policemen were donkeys, would that still be an issue? There were a couple of banned books where I do not agree with the reasons of it being banned (although, I never agree with any book being banned), but this was one of those books where I think the reason for it being banned was COMPLETELY unjustified.

***Rant Ended***

Pebble

Also, the scenes where Sylvester's parents worry about Sylvester's whereabouts might worry smaller children who might worry about whether or not Sylvester will ever transform back into himself again. Parents should reassure their children about the importance of staying safe if they wonder out into an unknown area.

“Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” is William Steig’s milestone children’s book as it discusses the love that Mr. and Mrs. Duncan have for their child, Sylvester, when he turns up missing and [how the spell of the magic pebble is broken when Mr. and Mrs. Duncan wished for their child’s return. (hide spoiler)] This book will be a cult favorite for both children and adults and is suitable for children ages five and up, even though it discusses the loss of a child.


Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

 

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review 2017-05-17 00:23
Incoming Rant
The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

You know, I'd read in some posh literary review that Jake and Brett were two of Hemingway's most lovable characters, but I really can't see how that could be. I get he was painting an era, but I had the same difficulties I had with Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby": I was bored by the characters misery (first world high class problems, people, that's what you have!); and I was enraged by the chaos and destruction they sowed all around themselves with their callow carelessness. Stupid egotistical brats.

And that's the other thing: they ARE reacting like brats. "Our parent's culture and ideology crumbled down and betrayed us! Let's rage and get drunk, and screw everyone around!" Except, you know, they are in their middle thirties. I don't say you have to have your shit together by that time or any other, God knows you never really do, and life has a marvelous way of sucker punch you when you think you have it balanced, but the over the top woe-is-me shit you are supposed to learn to manage after the hormones of puberty stabilize.

Every generation has challenges, and I reckon those that were born around the turn of the 20th century had a suck-fest of a raw deal, but what I saw inside this book was not just depression and insecurity over lost direction and of self, but a total lack of care for other people. I saw the phrase "moral bankruptcy" around, and I think that's and exact description, but it was treated as an excuse for how these particular characters act, because apparently it was a pervasive thing all around. News-flash: if everyone is a terrible person, and you act like everyone, you are still a terrible person.

 

So no, I have no love for these characters. Now, do I have any use for this book? *sigh* Thorny issue. If it was an accurate representation of the generation, I have to loose any surprise at seeing them fall right back into war; they all felt suicidal to me, and self-centered enough to blow up the world along with themselves.

 

So here's what I think: maybe it's useful, but I did not like it.

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