Saturday, July 7, 2012

Kid Konnection: Picture Books with Positive Messages

Don't Laugh at Giraffe by Rebecca Bender
Pajama Press
ISBN: 978-0986949562
Published May 15, 2012
Hardcover, 32 pages
Ages 4-7

Book Synopsis:
Giraffe and Bird squabble and get on each other's nerves. There's nothing the irrepressible Bird likes more than to have a laugh at the expense of his dignified friend, and one thirsty day at the water hole, he gets his chance. Giraffe's awkward attempt to reach the water without getting his hooves wet raises a snicker from a flamingo, a chortle from a zebra and a howl from a hippo. Soon everyone is laughing—especially Bird. In fact, Bird is having a ball until he realizes that his mortified friend has left the water hole without so much as a sip. Now Bird is ashamed. How will he get Giraffe back?

Our thoughts:
This book is a delight to read because of the beautiful and vibrant illustrations, and also the different font sizes to emphasize certain words in the text. My son took the time to observe them as I read this book to him. He really liked them. Bird is audacious and this trait helps him make up for poking fun at Giraffe. I loved his facial expressions. Giraffe is dignified. There is something about giraffes that I love. They are so graceful. But when they fall it could look anything but graceful or dignified. The author chose well the animals to portray various personalities.

It's inevitable that kids will laugh at each other as they learn to manoeuvre through life, and like Bird and Giraffe who get on each other's nerves but are inseparable, feeling sorry about laughing at a friend and making up for it is an important lesson. My son felt bad the other animals laughed at giraffe, especially his friend, so although he thought this book cute and funny, he felt for Giraffe. My son is also eight and friendships make up a big part of middle grade life. It's a sensitive topic. I can see how this book will appeal to younger children, preparing them for those times they will be laughed at. Parents can use this cute story to talk about how to deal with hurting other's feelings, and for the other party, how to get over an embarrassing moment and move on.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Disclosure: Thanks to Pajama Press for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product. 

Mom I Fired the Babysitter! by Colleen H. Robley Blake, illustrated by Randy Jennings
Strategic Book Group
ISBN: 978-1609116347
Published: August 26, 2010
Softcover, 40 pages

Book synopsis:
Alex thinks he is quite capable of taking care of himself so he resents the fact that he has to be watched by a babysitter. He fantasizes about all the reasons why she needs to be fired and tries to convince his mother. Mom becomes the go-between for Alex's and the babysitter's complaints about each other. But in the end, will the babysitter stay or go?

Our thoughts:
What happens when a kid feels he doesn't need a babysitter? He will not be happy and might want to fire her! This is how Alex feels about his babysitter. But Alex isn't an easy boy. He's naughty and rude and has chased previous babysitters away. He dreams of the things he would like to do to get rid of this babysitter. Young readers will enjoy the comic-like colorful illustrations and might get a kick out of Alex's antics. The text is in rhyme and easy to read. I really liked the illustrations, but had to re-read the story several times to make sure I understood the author's message.

I was somewhat confused about the whole situation with the babysitter. Was she really strict because Alex was a brat or did his claims that she only ate and slept an excuse to try to get his mother to get rid of her? He tries to talk to his mother about how he feels, but she doesn't listen. Finally, he talks to his older brother Stephen and his Dad about it and they agree with him and think of ways to get rid of her. I think the message here is to voice how you feel about a situation until you are heard. However, there is no advice on what to do if you don't get along with someone, other than scheme to get rid of the person.

Personally, the rules the babysitter instilled weren't bad, but it was obvious Alex did not like her and refused to listen to her. He thought her lazy and mean. But she is not some nutty old bat; she's young and pretty. My son loved the young babysitters I would hire on occasion so that my husband and I could have an evening out, so he really couldn't relate to this story. However, kids who have had their share of babysitters might just get a laugh or two from this story. At the back, the book includes three pages of questions that could be used as a tool for reading comprehension and discussion.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Laura and son

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.

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