March 9th, 2014 · Books
Review By KRISTIN WALD
Catching the Wild Waiyuuzee is filled with energy and joy and wonderful imagination. Author Rita Williams-Garcia, widely known for her Young Adult novels, creates a story that is great fun to read, and children will enjoy the rhythmic onomatopoeic words used throughout. The illustrations are as wild as the story, full of color and imagination and happy birds and bugs. Illustrator Mike Reed truly creates an imaginary world to get lost in.
Replaying what is surely a daily ritual for many families, the story comes down to a mother chasing her daughter in order to style her hair. Just like many children, the little girl doesn’t relish the hair tugging and combing she knows is coming, so she runs! “One good wiggle and the Wild Waiyuuzaa was free. Off she ran Tippi Tappi Tippi Tappi back into the bush…” What follows is a hide and seek in and among the imagined mango groves, iguana caves, and into the bush filled with beetles and snakes and colorful birds. The mother finally catches her wild Waiyuuzee by promising there is “No owie owie” waiting for her.
The mystery in the story is about discovering what type of creature the Wild Waiyuuzee is as it follows her in her attempts to hide from Shemama. The illustrations are colorful and detailed, and they hint as to the true identity of the Wild Waiyuuzee. In the spirit of Where the Wild Things Are, pictures combine imaginative details with true surroundings. And the poetic and sweet words shared by the child and her mother will ring true to a parental ear. My family loved the birds and bugs as well as the fun words and adventure in the hide-and-seek portrayed.
A word of warning: Children will want their hair beaded like the little girl’s by the end of the book!
Recommended for ages 3-7.
Tags:Adventure·Early Elementary·Female Protagonist·Hair·Illustration·Kristin Wald·Mike Reed·Preschoolers·Rita Williams-Garcia
March 5th, 2014 · Books
Review By JENNIFER KALI
I love this book! It’s actually quite simple, which works well to illustrate its point. It’s a fairly short book that presents stereotypical pictures on one page and then counters them on the next page. For example, it will show a picture of a boy playing with cars and say, “Girls don’t like cars.” On the next page is a picture of Danica Patrick in her race car and it says, “Wait a minute… Are you sure?”
The use of real pictures of real famous people helps to inform the reader that these are not hypotheticals. It’s not theoretical that girls can like cars. Danica Patrick loves cars and she’s a real person. The text is simple and playful, and the pictures do most of the talking. Since most of the pictures feature real people, as kids grow older you can discuss the person in the picture – what they do and why they are famous. And as kids get even older you can discuss discrimination that someone like Danica Patrick might face in her job. My only complaint about this book is that the names of the people in the pictures are not included so if you don’t recognize them, you won’t be able to find out more about them.
I have a four-year-old daughter and we are constantly having the conversation about boys versus girls. Some actual statements from my four-year-old – boys don’t do ballet, all boys like basketball. And it started young – probably as early as two years old. We talk about gender stereotypes constantly in our house and yet she goes to school and learns gender rules from her school friends. It’s nice to have a book to challenge these assumptions. My daughter seems to really enjoy this book. She thinks the playful wording is really funny and keeps bringing it up. She’ll say, “Boys don’t cook… Wait a minute, are you sure?”
I definitely recommend this book for parents of boys and girls. Amazon (affiliate link) recommends this book for ages 2-5, and I think that is right. Start the message at home as soon as the message starts at school.
The publisher sent a copy of this book for review.
Tags:Anne Sol·Gender·Good for Toddlers·Jennifer Kali·Marie-Sabine Roger·Nonfiction·Preschoolers·Role of Women
March 2nd, 2014 · Books
Review By JENNIFER KALI
Gorgeous. That was my first thought when reviewing these National Wildlife Federation board books for infants and toddlers that I received for review from the publisher. The books themselves are very simple – just a picture of an animal and the name of the animal. It’s the pictures that are the stars here. Gorgeous, high quality pictures of animals in the wild.
My First Book of Baby Animals (Amazon affiliate link) is my favorite of the two simply because, well, it’s baby animals. Super cute. It also includes the name of the baby animal which adds to the educational value for your child as he or she grows. Even I learned some things from this one. For example, a baby fox is called a kit and it is super cute!
I read these books with my six-month old son. If you asked him for his review, he would say they are super tasty. I definitely recommend these books, especially My First Book of Baby Animals, for the babies in your life.
Tags:Baby Animals·Baby Books·Board Books·Jennifer Kali·Wildlife·Wildlife Books for Kids
February 17th, 2014 · Movies
Review By JESSICA ALMY
I loved “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” so I was excited to check out the sequel (on DVD) with my family for movie night. Unfortunately, I think this series lost its groove after the initial hit.
That’s not to say that this movie won’t give you plenty to talk about — on the contrary. Still, the plot is so zany and downright incoherent in parts that I just can’t recommend it.
Picking up where the first flick left off, Flint Lockwood’s food machine has just showered earth with living food, and it turns out that our heroes’ efforts to turn it off were not entirely successful. A big corporation headed by Flint’s childhood idol evacuates the island and recruits Flint as an inventor. After repeated efforts to clean up the island and turn off Flint’s machine fail, Flint is sent in alone with instructions to dismantle it. He ends up going in with a cadre of friends, only to discover that the childhood idol is a greedy megalomaniac and that the food animals are not the monsters they’ve been made out to be, but rather, well, animals with families and feelings.
I’ll be the first to admit that this is a clever plot twist, and one that will appeal to vegetarian and vegan families. Still, it’s so poorly done, and the message is so inconsistent — fishing is glamorized with no mention of the real animals who suffer — that I was left with a bad taste in my mouth. (Not to mention that there was waaaay too much poop humor throughout!) This movie had just so much potential from a vegan perspective that it’s disappointing it’s such a wreck.
Let’s hope “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3″ isn’t in the works. I just don’t think I can stomach it.
Have you seen this movie? Tell me what you thought in the comments!
Tags:Animated Movies·Depictions of Animals·Depictions of Meat in Film·Family Movies·Fishing