Sep. 5th, 2013

readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
[Note: I'm planning to post Mondays and Thursdays for a while. Also, I have my laptop hooked up to a desktop monitor and it seems to be working okay.]

Summary: A fictionalized version of the year or so leading up to Vasco da Gama's 1497 voyage to India, seen through the eyes of the young Ferdinand Magellan and a highly fictionalized Jewish banker named Abel Zakuto.

Reaction: Oh, where to start? O_O I only got 13% of the way in before I gave up on this mix of bad research and utter nonsense with a nice thick scoop of misogyny on top.

Every single thing that could be slanted to the glory of Western explorers has been slanted so. Every single reference to women in the book is derogatory and stereotyped. There are two female characters, but by the point I stopped, it hadn't passed the Bechdel test even by implication, because one of them didn't talk, even offscreen.

And as far as I can figure, the portrayal of the political situation in Portugal at that time was made up out of whole cloth... to the point that "Abel Zakuto" was made up as a separate character from real-life Portuguese Royal Astronomer Abraham Zacuto, and was given most of Abraham's true history and accomplishments, apparently just to separate "Sympathetic Hero Character" from "person who has any sympathy or respect for the Portuguese monarch"! O_O BECAUSE CONFLICT, that's why. If you don't have a villain, make one up! *sigh*

Conclusion: One star. Half because because Mrs Hewes has an enjoyably brisk writing style well-suited to adventure stories, and half because -- even though it wasn't actually meant to come across as a romance -- the budding gay teen romance between young Ferdinand Magellan and fictional character Nicolo Conti was adorably sappy and quasi-realistic.
readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
I put this on the list because Millions of Cats and ABC Bunny were both on it, and because this is one of those picture books I've read in anthologies but never in the original format. I'll be glad when the Caldecotts start up in 1938 and I don't have to draw comparisons between Wanda Gág picture books and Rachel Field research tours-de-force. (Tour-de-forces? I don't speak French.)

anyway )

I love this book. :D
readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
Little Blacknose by Hildegarde Hoyt Swift... is apparently about a train engine. Specifically, the Dewitt Clinton -- the first steam engine built for the New York Central Railroad, according to this book's blurb. It ran between Albany and Schenectady, and literally the only other thing I kind of vaguely know about it is that there was a torchlight procession or some such thing when it was commissioned. I think. This factoid appeared in a Boxcar Children book one time. Unless it was about the opening of the Erie Canal under New York governor Dewitt Clinton. ;S

here we go! )

* And you know, I'm glad he gets a happy ending, at least in the story. I've come to love this little old engine over the last 150 pages. :-)
readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
I'm jumping ahead to 1934 here because The ABC Bunny is due back at the library in a week and I'd rather not have to order it on hold again.

and yet another picture book )

*sigh* At least the Caldecott will come along in a few years and send the Newbery to focus mostly on non-picture books for older readers?
readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: cut for spoilers )

Reaction: I think I like this one maybe even a teeny bit better than Millions of Cats, since it doesn't have the slightly gruesome turn of that book, but keeps the Grimm's Fairy Tales feel and the truly glorious pen-and-ink artwork in double-page spreads. Babar artist Jean de Brunhoff pioneered the oversize picture book a child could "climb into", a few years after Millions of Cats and The Funny Thing came out, but I'll definitely argue in favor of Wanda Gág as a precursor of the same trend.

I also really enjoyed Bobo's gentle, genre-savvy sporking of the "sermonizing" type of child's picture book in one place. :D

Conclusion: Five stars. I wouldn't say this book should have won the Newbery over Hitty, but I'd definitely give it a Mock Pre-Caldecott for the year. ;-) (The actual Caldecott medal wouldn't be awarded till 1938.)
readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: cut for spoilers )

Reaction: After a slow start, a surprisingly sweet little book, quick to read and full of memorable, likable characters. By the end of the book, I really cared quite a lot about the welfare of this train engine. ^_^ Highly recommended. WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE OUT OF PRINT. :P If I am ever a multi-millionaire, one thing I'm going to do is buy up the rights to some of these books and reprint them for modern readers.

Conclusion: Four stars. I docked it one for the slow start and for some infelicitous language choices, like the use of spelled-out "Negro dialect" in the one spot where an African-American porter appears.
readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: Tells the simple story of a rabbit who runs away from various scary loud noises, meets various other animals, and goes back home in the evening. Includes an ABC song consisting of the entire book sung to a tune composed by Ms Gág's sister Flavia.

Reaction: Disappointing. The music and the pictures are both good, but the lyrics which link the two are terribly flat. There is no plot, no humor, very little logical connection or progression from one letter to the next, and not even a funny turn of phrase to lighten the slog. A book with something like twenty pages shouldn't be a slog. O_O

Conclusion: One star, mainly because I can't give Wanda Gág zero stars. :P The tune and the pictures between them do actually deserve a star, though.

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