Showing posts with label Louise Lintvelt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Louise Lintvelt. Show all posts

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Diary of a Dancing Drama Queen by Louise Lintvelt

Rating: WARTY!

I've had mixed success with books by this author, but until this one the balance was slightly favoring the positive. This one brings down the batting average to a .500 I think.

This was a short novel aimed, it would seem, at middle grade readers (or even younger, based on the writing) but despite the youthful voice, it was written with a very adult tone and referenced a lot of things in which children in that age range probably have little or no interest at all even assuming they had knowledge of it.

The title indicates that dancing is going to be involved, and the main character is an extremely reluctant dancer - in that she has a really poor self-image and has no interest in disporting herself in such a manner, yet she mentions the TV show Dancing with the Stars as though she's really familiar with it, which begs the question: why would a kid who hates dancing be watching such a show in the first place? This was one of several things in this story which made little sense.

Clearly this book is heavily influenced by the author's own experiences either directly or vicariously, and it really doesn't work because of the age difference. The first problem is the constant whining. This kid is negative about everything, and she's especially down on herself. It really makes for a sorry story that's not at all a pleasure to read.

It would also help if the author knew what she was talking about. She mentions a 1973 Volkswagen bug car which belongs to the kid's mom, and says, "My dad says he spends more time fixing the thing than she does driving it. I can confirm this - I can think of more than one time when we got stuck on the side of the road with the hood in the air and steam hissing from the engine," but the Volkswagen was an air-cooled vehicle so there would be no steam hissing from anywhere - or if there was, then you have some serious issues with your vehicle!

Naturally a kid would not know this, and any kid reading this would likely not notice this, so I guess it’s a lot easier to get it wrong than to get it right unless you actually care about your writing. For me it was sloppy. It would have been just as easy to have mentioned a different vehicle, but again there's this anachronistic "hippie" vibe running through this story which doesn't sit well, because it reminds us once again we’re reading a story that wasn't written by the girl who claims to be telling it. Which twelve-year-old would say, "She has straight brown hair, cut into a perfect bob" or who would know the name of Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter? If there had been some prior suggestion that the kid watched the Marvel movies, then I could see her knowing who Paltrow is, but there wasn't, and I know Paltrow has made many other movies, but none of those seem like anything this kid would have seen.

On top of this there's the sexism in having the mom be the one with the cute car, yet unable to fix it, and the dad being the one with the sensible vehicle, and having to come to the rescue of the helpless maiden in distress. I had hoped we might have moved beyond this by now, but evidently this author has not. I quit this at less than halfway through even though it was only seventy-some pages because it simply wasn't appropriate, and it wasn't an entertaining read. I can’t recommend it, not for any age group.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Good Night Sleep Tight What a Wonderful Flight by Louise Lintvelt

Rating: WORTHY!

Illustrated in colorful detail by Do Thai Thanh, this is a very short book for young children about air transport and busy, crowded skies and what to do at the end of a full and busy day. Written poetically and very much in the mode of Goodnight Moon, the story is ideal for bedtime reading as it tells tales of different aircraft settling down for the night, and dreaming of flights gone by or flights to come. There are military jets, passenger airplanes, crop dusters, fire-fighting planes, and rescue helicopters, of all colors and shapes and sizes. Each plays an important part and each needs its rest to take up the baton the very next day.

I recommend this one because it seemed like a great way to get kids to sleep, and sometimes that's more important than educating them from a children's book! LOL! note that the text is too small to comfortably read on a phone, so you really need the print version or to read this on a pad for best results.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hooligan Magooligan Loves Her Pets by Louise Lintvelt

Rating: WORTHY!

Illustrated wonderfully by Julie Sneeden, this book is a visit to Hooligan's home, and a chance to meet her pets. It's a little too small to read on a smart phone, be warned, so you'll need either the print version or a pad to read it on. This is the fifth I've read and reviewed of Louise Lintvelt's books, and she was batting only five hundred prior to this. This improves her rating to sixty percent.

Hooligan has two cats and two dogs and actually isn't a hooligan at all - that's just her name. The book is not just about pets - it carries a message about acceptance, and how it's normal, ordinary, fine, and expected, that we enjoy diversity. I think that's a good message to convey and a great way to convey it. I recommend this one.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sing Along Construction Song by Louise Lintvelt

Title: Sing Along Construction Song
Author: Louise Lintvelt
Publisher: Amazon
Rating: WARTY!

Illustrated by Julie Sneedon.

I tried searching for this on Barnes and Noble and all it turned up was turned was The Night Before Christmas. What in Merry hell the one has to do with the other, only B&N knows. This is why corporate mega-giant Amazon is kicking their sorry behind in the on-line retailing business on its speedy way to becoming a monopoly.

I was really disappointed in this. It could have offered so much more than it did. The whole experience was funny because when I ran this through the spell-checker to catch anything I'd missed, the checker idiotically checked the URL to the cover image, found some random letters, and suggested 'brainpower'! I agree that was what was missing here! The construction song was poorly thought-out (and the tune wasn't even original. Yes, it would have been hard to convey an original tune in a print book unless the reader can read music; however, that said, my smart phone, the Kindle, and the iPad all can play tunes!

The biggest problem with this was that it felt all-around really poorly made. It needed to look at least like someone cared about how this book appeared, and I didn't get that impression at all. The words to the song were perfunctory at best, and the art work was dismal. I'm sorry but it was. I know kids don't expect masterpieces, but that doesn't mean we're forced to give them less-than average materials.

By the time I reached "This is the way I dump my load" I honestly felt that's what had been done here. I know many kids will be happy with just a sing-song, but that doesn't mean we don't owe them more than that if we can deliver it. This was a golden opportunity not only to offer a fun sing-along, but to take another step and teach young children a bit about building firm foundations, both metaphorically and practically, maybe helping them with building blocks to learn how things go together and why things all fall down. Kids are not born dumb. We adults make them that way by depriving them of rich learning environments. They yearn to learn even at a very young age and this could have been a fun play and teaching experience, but instead we get this lackluster which I can't in good conscience recommend.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How Andrew Got His Spots by Louise Lintvelt

Title: How Andrew Got His Spots
Author: Louise Lintvelt
Publisher: Amazon

Illustrated by Julie Sneeden.

Today is spotty day! I review two books by two authors, and I'm afraid I didn't find either of them worthy!

As I said in the other review, I hold children's books less accountable than I do those aimed at older readers - not in quality, but in what I'm willing let the author get away with. This doesn't mean that there's no limit to how generous I'm willing to be with praise and ratings. I like to support new authors, especially of children's books, but they need to do something for me in return, namely to create books which look like they're offering something worthy - preferably something educational or at least a lot of fun.

I can't say that this book offers that and moreover, for a book set in the wilds of Africa, it's illustrated tamely. Children deserve the very best we can give them whether it be attention, education, love, or books, and when I feel that they're being short-changed, I have to take a stand against it!

This is the story of Andrew the baby giraffe. Unlike Dalmatians, the subject of the other book I reviewed, Giraffes are born with their distinctive marking in place. You could also argue that, contrary to this book's title, they don't really have spots. They do have gorgeous patterned and dappled camouflage, which not only identifies their sub-species, and thereby from which corner of Africa they hale, but also, individual giraffe markings are as distinctive as fingerprints. The problem is that it's far too hard to get a giraffe to roll on an ink-pad, so I can't prove this to you....

Andrew seems to have dropped on his head at birth (which is perfectly normal for a giraffe, as it happens) without his markings, and he's now concerned about what happened to them. It's funny to me that the title of this book would have been more appropriately applied to the other book and the title of the other book better applied here.

One of the things which really bothered me about this story, aside from it once again being about a boy - like girls never have any adventures or problems to solve - is that it's set in one of the most attractive and exotic locales in the world, yet all we get here is the mundane. His name is Andrew, which is Greek, not African. it gets worse.

Andrew sets off on a little quest to try and figure out where his spots are. He talks to a ladybug who tells him that Mary the Fairy handed out kisses which became the spots. My only problem with this is that Mary was white, so it's like we're being told that only the white folks can rescue the black ones. We all know from history where that lead, don't we? It's not called the missionary position for nothing. It means you're being screwed. Could we not have had a black fairy in Africa?

Andrew continues on and chats with a leopard (no Rudyard Kipling explanation here!), and an owl and ends up getting his "spots" in a way not entirely divorced from the true purpose of the markings, so that wasn't too bad. That said, however, I can't recommend this story because it really lacked inspiration and made too many faux pas on the way through the jungle out there, so while I have to mark it down for that, I can say it didn't make my skin crawl....

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Things You Might See on an African Safari by Louise Lintvelt

Title: Things You Might See on an African Safari
Author: Louise Lintvelt
Publisher: Amazon
Rating: WORTHY!

Illustrated by Do Thai Thanh

This is one of a pair of reviews I'm doing today of books by the same writer (Louise Lintvelt) and talented artist (Do Thai Thanh). This particular one depicts some interesting life you might find if you went on an African safari. Not that many of us get that chance, but that's why we have books and TV, huh?! A sad omission, again, was plant life. Plants are alive, as indeed are they 'things'! I wish people would pay more attention to them, because they're are critical for life such as ours. Of course, children are not likely to find them as appealing as a lion or an elephant, but that said, I think it's important to get children, even at an early age, to realize how important plants are.

On that same topic, I think it's also important to point out to children what's right under their noses (not literally, although there is bacterial life there!), but in their own back yard and in their neighborhood. Life there is just as important, if not quite as exotic, as that in Africa. Although on a microscopic scale, the life in your own belly button is rather exotic - and very specialized! However that's not what this book's aim is. Here we visit Africa and learn how to count to ten, starting with one crocodile, which is more than enough to make us want to quickly move on to two!

We visit several different ecosystems, but again here, the focus is exclusively upon large mammalian life - apart from the bird at the beginning, which isn't even part of the counting, and the crocodile which kicks it off. There isn't even a flavor of the local people for us to enjoy. It's for this reason that I can't rate this book positively despite another display of fine art from Do Thai Thanh.

It's easy to be cynical about children's books. I try not to be, but in very general terms, they're such insubstantial things, with so little to them: simplistic drawings and barely enough text to tell a story, let alone stimulate young minds. Children don't demand much in this regard, admittedly, but when you see a book which appears to be pumped out for no other motive than mercenary, it's impossible to look upon them benignly.

Most children's books that I've reviewed are not like that, and this one is not one which I would put into that category either, but just because a book isn't created for what appear to be mean motives doesn't mean it merits an automatic positive rating. That way lies insanity! I think our children deserve better than that, and when I see a book which to me is uninspired - even one with gorgeous illustrations like this one, it doesn't inspire me to look upon it favorably in return.

I would have loved to see this author stretch and go off the road most traveled, and bring us something fresh and new. She was getting there in the other book I reviewed: Things you Might See Swimming Under the sea, but this one doesn't even look like it made that much effort, and I can't therefore recommend it.

Things You Might See Swimming Under the Sea by Louise Lintvelt

Title: Things You Might See Swimming Under the Sea
Author: Louise Lintvelt
Publisher: Amazon
Rating: WORTHY!

Illustrated by Do Thai Thanh

This is one of a pair of reviews I'm doing today of books by the same writer (Louise Lintvelt) and illustrator (Do Thai Thanh). This particular one depicts some interesting life you might find under the sea. As usual, none of this life is plant life - apart from a brief mention of coral. For some reason, non-animal life always seems to be given back seat in these things. We do get a refreshing variety of animal life, though - from invertebrates to reptiles to fish, and mammals. We're also treated to a wrecked galleon sporting pirate treasure.

One of the interesting factors here (other than the sea life, of course!) is that the book is devoted to teaching colors, so in each case the color of the animal is recounted (and illustrated with colored text). We get a veritable rainbow of color as well as no color (black) and all colors (white).

The art work is rather well done. I particularly liked the rather impressionistic view of a sunset over the ocean, and the expression on the sea horse's face, while not realistic (they do not have binocular vision!) was highly entertaining. Of course the sea horse is actually a bizarre fish, but calling it a sea fish is far too vague and just doesn't get it done, don't you think?!

The story is educational, too - beyond the colors. At the back there is a section giving brief details of the animals featured in the illustrations. It was a wee bit small for that particular text to be read on a smart phone however, so I'd recommend this for a mini pad or larger, or the print version, but I do recommend it.