Day 1H: Africa Addio, Round One
…and finally, the south subdivision:
Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, Sleepy Kittens (LB Kids, 2010)
If you (a) liked Despicable Me and (b) have kids—maybe even if you don’t—then it should go without saying that you probably need a copy of this (it’s the book, complete with kitten finger puppets, that Gru reads to the girls at night). If you’ve seen the movie, you know the whole book, but so what? It was wonderful in the movie, it’s wonderful IRL. What are you waiting for? ***
Sandra Magsamen, Peek-a-Boo, I Love You! (LB Kids, 2009)
Very cute lift-the-flaps animal book with a preponderance of heart designs; this one’s all about the illustrations, and they’re lovely, childlike without being childish. Very nicely done for the pre-lit set; we got to this one a bit later, but I’d say it would work just fine for the nine- to twelve-month-old range and up. ***
Josie Yee (illus.), Thomas the Tank Engine’s Hidden Surprises (Random House, 1999)
A lift-the-flaps book that holds the bean’s attention, in part because the flaps aren’t the center of the page, as they are in most of the books of this type he owns; there are little side flaps and suchlike that provide a refreshing change of pace. Another Thomas book that will go better with kids who are already fans of the series, but for them, it’s worth checking out. ** ½
Matthea Harvey, Cecil the Pet Glacier (Schwarz and Wade, 2012)
I am a heap big fan of Matthea Harvey’s poetry, so when I found out she’d written childrens’ books, I immediately hit my library’s website and put one on hold. And I was… surprised. It’s a lot more, for want of a better word, traditional than I expected it to be. Well, aside from the fact that Ruby’s would-be pet is a chunk of ice. But that fits in well with her family (trust me on this), and allows Harvey to slip in a bit o’ learnin’ here and there about a subject that doesn’t normally get much play in the average pre-lit story. (The story line actually put me in mind of Emily Jenkins’ wunnerful-wunnerful Sugar Would Not Eat It more than once; I’m sure this link was strengthened by the fact that the equally wunnerful-wunnerful Giselle Potter illustrated both books, and between the two of them she’s found herself a lifelong fan.) For kids—and parents—who are fond of things that are a little off, or more than a little off, this book is going to be pure balm for the soul, and when the kids are older enough (for I have little doubt this one will hang around much longer than the usual pre-lit book in the family reading list) to start thinking about books in terms of authors, and asking you “hey, what else is out there by Matthea Harvey?”, you’ve got yourself a perfect way to say “here, let me read you a poem from a book called Pity the Bathtub in Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form.” *** ½
Susan Stinson, Fat Girl Dances with Rocks (Spinsters Ink, 1994)
I spent the last eleven days of 2012 and the first eleven days of 2013 first in the hospital, then in a rehab center, fighting a nasty-though-not-life-threatening case of cellulitis. When you are not a fan of cable, and watching Netflix on a laptop screen gives you fits (when we had a 21” TV, I watched movies on my 23” computer monitor instead), you get time to read a lot of books that have been on your TBR stack forever. And so I finally found myself getting round to Fat Girl Dances with Rocks, which I think had been sitting on my shelf for something like a decade at that point. I’m not sure it’s anything new, anything pushing the envelope, but that’s not always necessary; it’s a very nicely done coming of age tale about a teenaged girl who goes looking for something—she’s not entirely sure what—and ends up finding herself.
I saw Berberian Sound Studio in a 110-seat theatre. It was a Wednesday matinee, so I expected a light crowd, but I was one of four people in the seats. The conclusion I had reached by the end of the film was that there were one hundred six people who had had the chance to catch a Wednesday afternoon matinee of Berberian Sound Studio and didn’t, and there are one hundred six people in this world who are worse for the experience. To make it short: if you are at all a fan of movies, even a casual fan, you can simply forget the actual plot of the film: this is a study in fascination, an endlessly-interesting look at film composition during the golden age of giallo.