Alice in Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole

October 1st, 2015 · Books

alice-in-wonderlandReview By HUYEN MACMICHAEL

Eating ‘shrooms, swallowing pills, smoking a “hookah”, bizarre experiences and visions as well as several other odd references lead many to question whether the original children’s story Alice in Wonderland had references to drugs. 150 years later (yes, this year is the anniversary of Alice in Wonderland!), research suggests Lewis Carroll, a mathematician at Christ’s Church Oxford, was not making references to drugs– he just had a very creative imagination and was entertaining a couple children during a boat ride down the Thames river when he told that story! An Oxford University professor of the classical tradition named Richard Jenkyns told Prospect magazine that Alice in Wonderland is “probably the most purely child-centred book ever written”.

Just like the original, this retelling by Joe Rhatigan and Charles Nurnburg preserves that child-centered focus with a little twist. I absolutely loved the illustrations on this story- they were cheerful, colorful, playful and very appealing to adults as well as children. The changing text size was playful and can help new readers focus on particular words. The retelling was done very creatively, taking Alice on a journey that places emphasis on her changes and transitions as she attempts to follow the white rabbit.

Notably missing in this modern version are the characters The Mad Hatter and March Hare, the Jaberwocky,  the Queen of Hearts, and the Cheshire Cat. Perhaps they are saving it for the next installment since it appears that this brief retelling only covers chapters 1-5 of the original story. I look forward to a sequel that continues Alice’s journey and hope it is just as lovely and entertaining as this one.

My eight year old daughter said:

It’s really good and very interesting. I think that it is a good make-believe story for younger kids.

A review copy was sent for an honest review.

→ No Comments

Tags: ·····

Little Robot

September 28th, 2015 · Books


When I received a publisher’s review copy of Ben Hatke’s hardcover graphic novel Little Robot, it was first on the list to read that night at bedtime with my almost 5- and 7-year-olds. The artwork is beautiful, much like Hatke’s last book, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, but the style of storytelling is more reminiscent of Andy Runton’s Owly series because the words are sparse and the pictures tell the story.


Having a boy and a girl in the home makes me rejoice when books aren’t specifically gendered — the emotions are universal and a little girl befriending a lost robot resonated with both my kids. Enough is left to their imagination as well — the protagonist is nameless but she waits until other kids have gone to school (is she skipping school? is she too young to attend school? – the reader is left to decide) before having her adventures. One day she opens a box containing a lost robot (Unit 00012), while she is learning to interact with the robot a much larger robot comes to recover the missing unit. A kitty cat does get “eaten” by the larger robot but it is just how he picks up his quarry and the cat is rescued unharmed later on.

One moment in the story that gives pause is when the little girl locks Unit 00012 up so she can try to make him some friends. Even if her intent is good, she has deprived her friend of his own choice to go away in search of those like him so we were able to discuss as we read whether or not it was a kind choice to make. Even the large recovery robot is ultimately turned to a good path and friendship prevails.

Highly recommended for ages 2 and up.

→ No Comments

Tags: ·····

Fable Comics

September 26th, 2015 · Books

Fable Comics cover featuring a tortoise and hare reading comic booksReview By KRISTIN WALD

Fable Comics, a collection of 28 re-envisioned, sometimes recast, and most definitely re-illustrated fables is recommended for ages 7-10. This wide range of artists and fables, edited by Chris Duffy, makes for both an amazing companion to traditional fables and myths or fabulous as a stand-alone book to enjoy.

The interpretations and inventive illustrations in this collection have a saucy appeal that children will find both humorous and (to caretakers’ amused chagrin) inspiring. Upon first reading, I found that some fables suffered under what seemed like a private joke or an overly complicated plot interpretation. However, as I reread, it became clear that the abruptness of the fable style was being imitated in a cleverly modern manner. This collection is a keeper.

The fables that inspired the graphic reimaginings are listed in small print at the bottom of each fable’s first page. Particularly clever versions include Sophie Goldstein’s “Leopard Drums Up Dinner,” each of George O’Connor’s “Hermes” fables, Ulises Farinas’ “The Great Weasel War,” and Maris Wicks’ “The Dolphins, The Whales, and the Sprat.” Special mention goes to the hauntingly beautiful rendition of “Fox & Crow” by Jennifer L. Meyer; it’s the most abstract and frame-worthy piece. It is also the clearest example where reading the original prior will ensure greater enjoyment of the interpretation.

Because of the sudden stops in the genre of the fable, some of these stories may need caretakers to explain both the plot and meaning to younger children, Fable Comics has a vast style and appeal range, and children who enjoy one fable will be drawn to others they might not have chosen themselves.

More sensitive children may be upset by the “animal behaviors” in some of the fables. However, other interpretations are more gentle than the original. For example, in Jaime Hernandez’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” no boy, and no sheep are eaten, but the lesson remains.

I believe that children and adults will enjoy reading this collection again and again.

→ No Comments

Tags: ·········

Zora’s Zucchini

September 10th, 2015 · Books


Zora’s Zucchini tells the story of a young girl who happens upon some free zucchini plants. She takes them home and begins growing her own garden, only to realize that she has more zucchini than she knows what to do with. Rather than waste the excess, she creates a community garden swamp, where others bring their excess garden items and everyone takes what they need, leaving behind what they would like to offer to others.

Zoras-ZucchiniThis is a great book for kids and vegan and vegetarian parents will appreciate the story, too. There is nothing in this book that is not vegetarian friendly, and it has a good message about growing a garden and sharing with others. After reading this book, kids and adults alike may be interested in participating in their own little community garden swap!

The last page of the book also offers tips on what to do with extra foods that have been grown in the garden, so they are not wasted. This will make a great book for kids who already have gardens and those you may want to inspire to have one.

The publisher sent a review copy of this picture book, which is geared to kids ages 4 to 8.

→ No Comments

Tags: ········