January 8, 2016

Picture Books 2016 #1: Dr. Seuss, Interstellar Cinderella, and More

This review contains spoilers for various picture books.

Full disclosure: I actually read these in the final days of 2015. But they're being reviewed in 2016, so I think it's perfectly reasonable to put them under the umbrella of 2016 regardless.

I Will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems

Did I just take acid? What the fuck just happened to me? It starts out with the same kind of "let me sleep!" plot line that Goodnight, Already! had, but then this takes a distinct turn for the strange. The illustrations are great, and... I kind of want to just hand this to someone when they're tripping and see what they make of it. (Is that a odd thought to have?)

...and that's my roundabout way of saying this was super amusing in the weirdest way.

Otter in Space by Sam Garton

This is a children's book that apparently ties into the author's blog, I Am Otter: The Unheard Ramblings of a Modern Day Domestic Otter. I can only imagine this story is more endearing if you're familiar with that, because as it stands alone… I'm not really affected either way. I'm not interested, amused, put off, or anything. I have genuinely zero opinions about this book and am only left with the sense that I'm missing some kind of context I need to actually enjoy it.

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

It's a super simple story about toys sitting on a windowsill as the seasons--and years, presumably--pass them by. There's not much to it, but it's kind of cute and sweet.

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood

Guys, I genuinely cannot gush about this enough. I don't give out many five star ratings, but this easily snatches one up for itself.

The art is spectacular, and the concept is great. It's like a punk-ish space fantasy (Is spacepunk a thing? Can we make it a thing?) with a feminist angle; here we have a fairy godmother godrobot who gives Cindy not a dress and a pumpkin carriage but a space suit and brand-new tools so she can fix her spaceship, stepsisters who are wicked instead of ugly, and a Cindy who she earns the prince's attention not by being pretty and demure but by rescuing him with a timely spaceship repair. And, perhaps best of all, it bucks the notion that a fairytale's "happily ever after" must be a wedding (or worse, babies) between a teenage girl and a generic Prince Charming. This whole damn thing is spectacular; this is how you do a feminist retelling of a fairytale. This is pure fucking gold.

The only flaw I can possibly come up with is that a child will likely have to be familiar with the Disney (or Disney-esque) retelling to fully appreciate this. But, seriously, there's no way to prevent a child from eventually hearing that (and I'd argue there shouldn't be, since it's a cultural cornerstone for better or worse), so that shouldn't be a problem.

What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss

Honestly, the Seuss biography in the back, which included information on his various pets and how this manuscript came to be discovered and published, was more interesting than the book itself. But it's probably a fun read for an animal lover or a child expecting to get a pet soon. It's likely the perfect way, in fact, to get a child thinking seriously about what kind of pet they want (and from there, you can do some actual research into caring for their chosen animal before you go out and grab one, unlike the children in this story).

No comments:

Post a Comment