Monthly Archives: July 2013

Review of “Bill and Pete”

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Written in 1978, Bill and Pete a delightful story set on the banks of the River Nile.

“William Everett Crocodile lived on the banks of the River Nile with his mama.”

And so we are introduced to William Everett, and we join him for a hilarious adventure! Everett, along with his toothbrush named Pete, goes to school, but he has a difficult time spelling his name, so he begins to go by Bill.

However, the adventure begins when Bill and Pete begin to frequent the River Nile, where Bill is caught by the Bad Guy from Cairo. Will Bill escape? Will Bill be made into a suitcase? Will he ever see his mama again?

“Poor Bill! He was on his way to Cairo. All he could think about was suitcases.”

Bill and Pete is a cute and funny little book that reminds us how important it is to be aware of what is going on around us, but it also reminds us to be brave and overcome. I found myself laughing at the ending!

I would warn parents, however, that there is an illustration of a man in just a towel, and also an illustration from the back of a man running, having dropped the towel. Other than this, it is a wonderful little book! I would have to give  Bill and Pete a “B”.

Have you read the book? If so, what are your thoughts?

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Review of “Now One Foot, Now the Other”

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A companion to last week’s Nana Upstairs and Nana DownstairsTomie de Paola’s Now One Foot, Now the Other is a beautiful story of a young boy’s loving friendship with his grandfather.

We follow the story from the time of Bobby’s birth, through the many adventures he shares with his Grandfather, Bob.

“Bobby was named after his best friend, his grandfather, Bob.”

The two were close friends, sharing many special joys together, until one day Bobby comes home to find out that his “Bob” has had a stroke. Bobby feels lost without his grandfather, but it only gets worse when his grandfather returns home, and doesn’t remember him.

“Bobby was scared. His grandfather didn’t remember him. He just lay in bed.”

Finally, one day Bobby is convinced his grandfather did recognize him! Excited, Bobby begins to do some of the things he and his grandfather had done together before.

As his grandfather’s health began to improve, Bobby would let him lean on his shoulders, and help him learn how to walk again.

“Now one foot, now the other. And before you knew it…”

I have enjoyed this precious book about a grandfather and grandson’s love and friendship for many years. I have been impressed over and over again with the tenderness Tomie de Paola uses to describe not only the relationship Bob and Bobby share, but also the subject of Bob’s stroke.

Overall, I believe the book to be a delightful story for children of all ages! I would give the book an “A”.

Have you read the book? If so, what are your thoughts?

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Review of “Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs”

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Two of my favorite books by Tomie dePaola are Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs, and its companion, Now One Foot, Now the Other. The books are beautiful tributes to the memories dePaola has for his grandparents.

“When Tommy was a little boy, he had a grandmother and a great-grandmother.”

So begins the tale that chronicles some of the memories dePaola has of his grandmother and great-grandmother. It is obvious he treasures dearly the memories he has, and I believe he has created a beautiful story that generations will love, and love to share!

” ‘Died’ means that Nana Upstairs won’t be here anymore.”

One of the sweetest parts of the book is when Tomie dePaola tells how Nana Upstairs died, and little Tommy couldn’t understand. He could not comprehend death, yet it became very real to him.

Tomie dePaola handled very carefully the delicate subject of death, and yet came away with a bright, wonderful story of a little boy growing up.

Overall, I found the book to be enchanting, told with a delicacy suited to the subject, yet with a buoyancy and happiness suited to remembering happy times in the past. I would give the book an “A”.

Have you read the book? If so, what are your thoughts?

 

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Review of “Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato”

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Tomie dePaola has quite an intriguing background, coming from a strong mixture of both Irish and Italian families. In the note at the beginning of the story, he shares how his Irish grandfather was a great storyteller, and reveled in regaling his grandchildren with Irish tales. I believe it is safe to say that dePaola certainly learned well, and has his grandfather’s gift for spinning a tale!

“Jamie O’Rourke was the laziest man in all of Ireland.”

Right from the beginning of the story, we have a strong sense that Jamie O’Rourke is far from being a hard-working, dependable man, and is rather a slothful man who would rather lie in bed and let his wife do all the work. It is only when Jamie’s wife, Eileen hurts her back and is confined to bed that Jamie gets out of bed himself. But, as we learn, not out of concern for his wife– but for himself!

“No Eileen to dig meant no praties all winter, and no praties meant no food.”

Throughout the book, the bad character of Jamie O’Rourke is displayed. He is a lazy, irresponsible, greedy, and proud man, and it takes his wife’s generosity and good sense to save them from ruin. In the end, while the book has a hilarious ending,  I doubt children will want to imitate Jamie O’Rourke!

“If you promise not to plant it, Jamie, we’ll promise before St. Patrick and all the saints to see that you and Eileen always have plenty to cook and eat.”

Overall, I thought the story was a very funny one, showing clearly how despicable the flaws of Jamie O’Rourke were. The illustrations in the book are also sure to be enjoyed by children!

I will warn that the book does discuss the possibly disturbing (to some) topic of leprechauns, and is written from a Catholic perspective, thus it also discusses saints. I found the book to be a wonderful rendition of an Irish folktale, and would give the book an “A”.

Have you read the book? If so, what are your thoughts?

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