Was "Barefoot's" escape from slavery assisted by Nature?
Taut prose conveys Barefoot's fear as he runs from the "Heavy Boots". Illustrations progressively show Barefoot from the point of view of the animals that benefit him as he passes: a squirrel nest suggests hiding among leaves; a heron's 'Sqrrawnk' warns of approaching slave hunters, mosquitoes even drive away the hunters but do not affect Barefoot! The phony ideology that Nature actively assists actively undermines a good story idea.
A fearful, family togetherness is regained, when Ida's hornpipe helps her recover her baby sister from kidnapping by grotesque, Grim-Reaper, goblin-babies.
Sad over her father's absence, Ida fails to watch her baby sister, whom the goblins steal. Leaving a sickeningly eerie, ice replica baby in the sister's place, the goblins escape through a window that displays images reflecting Ida's moods. In dreamy pursuit, Ida hears her father say, "...catch those goblins with a tune". Frenzied dancing to her hornpipe turns the goblins (also babies) into "a dancing stream". Bizarre events –she arrives in a goblin wedding– and odd phrasings make this story pointlessly freaky. Also see, Where the Wild Things Are, it is not as benign as some reviewers suggest.
A granddaughter has many happy memories of her grandmother, who frequently gave her keepsakes that become precious to her when she became an adult.
A grandmother and granddaughter have a close relationship. Grandma gives the girl numerous keepsakes, "because everyone wants to be remembered." Despite Bosak's good (and well awarded) intentions this focus turns the principle of remembrance upside down. It even risks instilling fear of loss, or 'remembrance guilt', rather than memories that advance a child's happiness. Perhaps reviewers were taken by the sentimentality.
Willard's poems offer a bit of Blake's style, but entail flights of imagination more befitting Alice in Wonderland than William Blake.
Blake's Inn is intended as a metaphor for imagination itself. Its well structured poems encourage and engage one in wild flights of imagination. Characters such as a talking Rabbit, a Wise Cow, and the Man with the Marmalade Hat inhabit the Inn, and take trips among the stars. Willard's approach suggests the pinnacle of imagination is absurdity, in language and perspective. VM finds this Alice in Wonderland approach represents neither Blake, nor good poetry. Given its awards and academic approval, this requires a thorough Full Review.
In tedious narrative, Pocahontas is 'one with Nature', while Europeans are gold-seeking, city-loving louts, except for handsome John Smith.
This politically correct Pocahontas story portrays a sublime Indian maiden destined by Nature's spirits to befriend Capt. Smith. The other Europeans carelessly seek gold and shoot an innocent Indian. Interracial romance, not tribal depredations, exacerbate conflict and Pocahontas must save Smith from her father's club. Contradicting history, she stays in 'her' world while Smith, injured by a European bullet, returns to Europe. The real story is much more exciting (see the full review).
The typical Seuss-rhymes found in this work entertain, but use goofiness and magic with no clear direction.
The opening verse begins with "This was no time for play / This was no time for fun / This was no time for games / There is work to be done." However the Cat kept making pointless messes to be cleaned up. This Cat in the Hat projects goofiness as a virtue and rather pointless magic as a value. Other Dr. Seuss titles show a smarter, more useful storyline.
A boy offers a mouse a cookie, which prompts further demands: for milk, a napkin, etc. forming a chain of other rationalistic steps that ends with the mouse being thirsty and asking for milk and a cookie.
The cute illustrations are the main value in this book, and perhaps distract readers from its ultimate lack of content. Such flights of fancy can be amusing, but serve little purpose and are probably comprise the easiest/lowest/commonest form of children's literature, no matter how popular. Worse, they steal time from a child's pursuit of more important values. This book's many awards are a disturbing indicator of the literary establishment's approach to children.
Weather in the town of "Chew&Swallow" is always food, but food 'hurricanes' drive them elsewhere.
Grandpa tells a 'story' of a town where rain and snow never fall, only food, and three times a day! Gradually the weather becomes too rough, with bread-roll hurricanes and storms of giant sandwiches. The townspeople use stale bread to make sailboats, and sail to a land where food must be bought from stores. Silliness for fantasy's sake.
"Good night _______" is said to a number of dull, inanimate features found in illustrations of a dull and dim room.
The text occasionally rhymes, but is often awkward. The mainly black and white picture elements are often creepy looking: there is a cat in a grandfather clock, scaring a mouse; a 'grandma' rabbit knitting in a chair simply disappears in subsequent images. In a sleepy and 'spacey' way, with no redeeming message or atmosphere, your child can be bored to sleep.
Lonely Millicent finds a companion and protector in The Wind, but is not happy until a real playmate is blown to her.
Millicent is wistfully alone in her alpine home, until the day The Wind befriends her. Later, when she is harassed by village children, it bowls over her tormentors. Millicent asks The Wind for a real friend, and an unquestioning boy is blown(!) to her home. The fine illustrations are airy & wistful. Since The Wind is not her imagination, the story portrays companionship as fundamental need for happiness. Unfortunately, companionship becomes a substitute for Millicent's purposelessness. The mood of the story is unusual for Munsch, and has a definite appeal.