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Friday Book Review: “The Grinch” parties on plus “The Daring Book for Girls” and “The Book of Story Beginnings”

November 9th, 2007

Reviewed today:

Well, well, well. What should appear recently in the Wacky Mailbox but “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” by our dear Dr. Seuss (Random House, 52 pages, $14). (Yes, I know it’s too early for Christmas for some of you. Please bookmark this page and come back in a month.) The story of the Grinch is fifty this year — how can that be? That makes Cindy-Lou Who fifty-two. Yikes. And her anntennas are still so darn cute.

We received the “Party Edition,” which means, “brand-new clean and no Christmas cooky crumbs.” My favorite page? This one:

“And the one speck of food
That he left in the house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.”

Wacky Girl’s favorite page? The last one, of course:

The Grinch carved the roast beast!”

We also received a commemorative Christmas ornament, which is just about perfect, and as if that weren’t enough, a copy of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The 50th-Anniversary Retrospective” (by Dr. Seuss and Charles D. Cohen, 85 pages, $24.99). My son is partial to this brand-new edition, but he cannot have it, it is all Mama’s. It contains everything a Grinch addict like myself could possibly want, including info on his international appeal (he’s der Grinch in Germany, il Grinch in Italy and o Grinch in Brazil, did you know?), details about the route Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Geisel) took in creating the Grinch (he wanted to combine Santa, his reindeer, the Stork, the Sandman and the Boogeyman — why mess around with so many characters when one would do?), and background on how Chuck Jones storyboarded the book. The old drawings are spectacular.

These are both great additions to my, I mean, our Christmas book collection — I think you’ll enjoy both copies as well.

I heard about “The Book of Story Beginnings,” by Kristin Kladstrup (Candlewick Press, 360 pages) when my daughter read it for the first time, when it was released last year. Her review went something like this:

“There’s this kid, Oscar, and he uses a magic potion and a book, The Book of Story Beginnings, to make an ocean appear. In Iowa. In Iowa!! Mom, there’s no ocean in Iowa!”

I told her I’d love to read it, too, but then someone else had it on hold, I forgot to reserve it again and you know. It’s a year later. But we’re finally re-reading it — it’s as fantastic and magical as she told me.

Now, Wacky Girl:

“It’s interesting, because Oscar turns into a cat, and then turns back into a boy and wooooooooooooo… woo-woo! Ha ha ha. Erase that woooooooooooo ha ha ha part, okay?”

(me: “No.”)

“And my favorite part is when they ride on the boat to…”

Yes, the ocean comes back, along with Oscar. Now, I must stop her because this book — I am not going to spoil this book for you. The plot? Amazing. The writer? It’s her first book and she gives us this? More, more, more. The writing about writing? I love writing about writing. I love a book within a book, a play within a play, a poem within a poem. The characters? Well-developed. The heroine’s parents? Always in a fight. (One of the biggest conflicts in the book is how the heroine, Lucy, grapples with how much she should do independently and when (and how???) she should ask her parents or other family for help.

Fabulous read, your kids (boys or girls) will love it. Best for ages five or six and up. (To adulthood.)

“The Daring Book for Girls,” by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz, with illustrations by Alexis Seabrook, was just released. It’s a partner to “The Dangerous Book for Boys,” (Collins Books, 279 pages). Wacky Girl got her mitts on it and I hadn’t seen it since — until today. I spotted it on an end table where she had carelessly left it in my grabbing distance. I will now review, with help from my dear daughter, before it disappears again.

What do we like about it?

You can learn how to read palms (my daughter wants to know how), or play fourteen kinds of tag (“That looks cool!” sez one Wacky Girl). You can figure out how to put your hair up with a pencil, perform first aid, learn about Zenobia, Queen of the East, do yoga, build a tree swing, or learn to spy. And there is much, much more, but I will not be able to tell you because there goes the book again, out the door.


  1. Mallory says

    I love Der Grinch! My kids do too. I think Dr. Suess is my favorite author–seriously. He kept his playful sensibility all through his life and wrote about important topics (loyalty, the environment, consumerism) in a whimsical way that made it accessible to everyone. He also taught my kids to read, so he gets bonus love points from moi.

    I gotta get my hands on the Daring Book–and I may even share with my daughter. Maybe!

    November 10th, 2007 | #

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