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Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Little Pumpkin Book (1992): I’m Surprised How Much the Kid Loves This

Katharine Ross, The Little Pumpkin Book (Random House, 1992)


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Short, to the point, and very well done.

This was, as far as I know, a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law; grandma brought it over a few weeks ago. Very short, and very small (some folks with eyesight problems may have issues trying to read it), but while I’ve never seen the baby express a specific preference for it, when I start reading it to him, he stops and pricks his ears up. A very quick and easy story. While the language is obviously geared toward the pre-lit set, there’s never a feeling that the author is talking down to her intended audience, and she obviously put some thought into it before jotting this down, as it’s one of the very few pre-lit books we have around the house that actually has some sort of structure to it. We like this one a lot, and it’s growing on the bean. Thumb solidly up here. ****

Satantango (1985): The Novel that Started it All (kind of)…

László Krasznahorkai, Satantango (New Directions, 1985)

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Who is the puppet, and who the puppeteer?

Satantango, Béla Tarr’s seven-and-a-half-hour masterpiece of slow film, is infamous for being obtuse, joyless, not to mention bloody hard to sit through (to my knowledge, it has never been shown theatrically without at least one dinner-length intermission; I watched it the first time over the course of a week). It’s also one of my top twenty all-time favorite movies, so when word came down that after a quarter-century we were finally getting an English translation of the László Krasznahorkai novel upon which it is based, I girded my loins for a thousand-plus-page monstrosity of some sort of outrageously avant-garde writing I’d need a dictionary, two tomes on the history of communism in Hungary, and an online reference library just so I could get through page one.

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Beast (2002): Got Anything Good?

Various Artists, Beast (Hospital Productions, 2002)

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Hospital Productions, your home for animal husbandry… and animal wifery…

(Note: this review is from sometime in 2004)

Beast is about what you’d expect from a Hospital Productions release: it’s loud and ugly. Released in an edition of 500 (of which my copy is 363), packed in a cardboard box with an imitation fur lining, the disc itself is yellow and without detail.

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Cow Can’t Sleep (2012): As Funny for the Parents As It Is for the Kids

Ken Baker, Cow Can’t Sleep (Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2012)

Full disclosure: This book was provided to me free of charge by Amazon Vine.

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best. cow. ever.

A little on the advanced side for my one-year-old, but he’ll grow into it, and he’s crazy about Steve Gray’s hilarious illustrations. I too am pretty thrilled with it—the first pre-lit book I’ve actually laughed aloud at since I was at the age where I was reading them for myself. Another that hasn’t been in the house long enough for me to gather data on repeated readings (though we did read it again last night not long after our first go-round with it) or how the little guy will react to it over time, but first reaction: this is going to end up being one of our favorites. Good stuff indeed! ****


We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt (2012): This Would’ve Been Cooler with a Ghost Bear…

Susan Pearson, We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt (Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2012)


Full disclosure: this book was provided to me free of charge by Amazon Vine.


photocredit: (yes, I grabbed that one because of the irony)

we’re gonna catch a big one!

“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” retooled for Halloween, natch, with an amusing set of spooky landscapes. Some of the onomatopoeics seem forced, but nothing that’s going to jar while you’re reading it as long as you give it a quick read to yourself before trying it aloud for the kiddies. And, yes, “forget the tree!” does make an appearance. This is new to the household, so I don’t have any data on how well it stands up to repeat readings, but when we cracked it open the first time and gave it a read, he was attentive and enjoyed the rhythm and sounds, and so did we. *** ½

Eyes, Nose, Fingers, Toes (2006): Bendon Starts Getting It Right

Anonymous, Sesame Beginnings: Eyes, Nose, Fingers, Toes (Bendon Publishing, 2006)

Points off for lack of information (no author listed).

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…and cookies.

We liked this one somewhat better than Bubbles, Bubbles! (q.v.), if only because the rhyme scheme was more coherent here—it feels more like it was written by one person than by (inept) committee. It’s another that doesn’t get pulled out a great deal since the little guy started expressing conscious opinions on what we should be reading, but we return to it now and again, once every few weeks or so. Not awful, but nothing to spend time hunting down. **

The A, B, C, with the Church of England Catechism (1785): What a Difference a Couple of Centuries Make

Anonymous, The A, B, C, with the Church of England Catechism (Young, Stewart, and McCulloch, 1785)

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Ah, the good old days of truly informative book titles!

I actually own this because it is (or it was when I downloaded it) the very first file listed when you browse by title at Project Gutenberg. 15 pages long, and the PG EULA is a third of that. The actual ABC is about as long as you would expect, and the remainder is the catechism and some contemporary prayers and hymns—which makes this interesting for students of religious history, but not so much for the rest of us. ** ½