Sunday, January 07, 2007

Library Roundup

_Mr Gumpy's Outing_ by John Burningham.

When I was a little girl my parents read me this book and I, reportedly, loved it, so when I found it on the shelf I was thrilled to read it again, particularly about the pig "mucking about." The story goes like this: Mr. Gumpy goes for a ride in his punt on the river, and a lot of animals and children ask for rides, and he gives them strict instructions for boat behavior, which they eventually grossly violate, and then they all go in the drink. And go home and have tea. Yes, the story is a wee bit British. What strikes me as an adult, reading the book, is the casual loving way with which the children are included along with the other animals -- pigs, dog, children, goat, etc. It is a very sweet book and Benny and Sadie love it and find it hilarious. Publisher's Weekly's review of it presents it as a moral tale on boat safety. What a bunch of loons. ;D

_Hedgie Blasts Off_ by Jan Brett

Is anyone better than Jan Brett? No. Jan Brett is awesome. Her illustrations are over-the-top great. Unmatched. Superb. In this book, Hedgie (of _Hedgie's Surprise_) returns to go on an outer space adventure. The story isn't exactly Moby Dick, friends, but who cares? The hedgehog gets to go to space and everyone learns a fine lesson about not throwing things in fountains. My favorite thing about the illustrations in this one is how all the scientists are dogs, all the reporters are birds... and how these species take on their roles without anyone mentioning it or noticing it. I just love that -- it reminds me of her _Comet's Nine Lives_ which I really liked. This book is very cute. The kids love it.

_The Diggers_ by Margaret Wise Brown

This is a new edition with new man-and-machine oil painting illustrations. The story here is weird -- it's much more surreal and asymmetrical than Margaret Wise Brown's usual fare. There's no regular rhyme scheme, there's no cyclical story, and nothing really works out in the end. *I* like this, and found the kind of tangential expansiveness interesting and cool. But fans of _The Runaway Bunny_ and _Goodnight Moon_ and that kind of thing might find themselves out of their comfort zone. The illustrations are VERY cool though, and a big steam shovel digs all the way under a mountain. Good for kids who like construction machines!

_Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip_ by Elsa Maartman Beskow

This book is so darling and charming. For some reason, when I cracked it open, I thought it would be too quiet for Benny and too slow for Sadie. No. They were both riveted. It is a very precious little story about tiny little people who live in trees -- we never ascertained whether they were fairies or pixies or what. They have a little adventure and then everyone has a party. It's the detail of the illustrations, the thoughtful way in which this little world is completely imagined, and the boldness of the "naughty" children who go off on an oak leaf and end up delivering beards to trolls. Very good story! The children give it four thumbs up!

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