Children's Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, March 1999 Page One of Two
Baseball Bob by William JoyceHarperFestival, Feb., 1999.
Board Book, 17 pages
Reading Level: Ages Baby - Preschool
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Dinosaur Bob is back in this board book adaption of part of the popular stories by William Joyce. In this adventure, Bob, an amiable green brontosaurus acquired by the Lazardo family on a trip to Africa, loves to play baseball and would often play both left and right field at the same time. One day, the local baseball team comes by to watch -- and is really impressed. They ask Bob to play in their first game. Bob is amazing...and the baseball team wins! The Lazardos are so happy that they dance the Hokey Pokey, and the rest of the town joins in. Just before bedtime, they sing "The Ballad of Dinosaur Bob," just to let him know how much they love him. The Ballad is included at the back of the book and is sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. (Sample: "He's Mesozoic and heroic, and he's really green.") Parents and children alike are lucky that Dinosaur Bob stories are being published as board books; now younger children can enjoy the big, green dinosaur. The wonderful artwork that is trademark Joyce, as well as the silly and fun storylines make this latest adaptation a keeper.
Beaten by a Balloon by Margaret Mahy, Illustrated by Jonathan AllenViking, 1998.
Picture Book, 24 pages.
Reading Level: Ages 3-8
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Sam Appleby want his father to make him a sword -- after all, he pleads, Hacky Mackie, already has a plastic dagger, a slingshot and a laser gun. But Mr. Appleby is adamantly politically correct; no guns, knives or other weapons of violence will be allowed in his house. And he proceeds to purchase a balloon, a rose, a sunflower and a chocolate cake for father and son to take home to mother. While stopping in at the bank, the Applebys and the Mackies are both standing in a long line, with the Mackies taunting the Applebys for their nonviolent approach to life. Suddenly, the notorious bank robber, Buckbounder, enters using the springs attached to his shoes. Thinking quickly, Sam pops his balloon with the thorns from the rose, Buckbounder springs to the ceiling in fright, and Mr. Appleby decks the robber with the chocolate cake and then the flowerpot. Heros now, the Applebys receive medals and awards from the local constabulary. No more taunts from the horrid Mackies for this dynamic duo! Dad even relents and buys Sam a water gun.
A silly, slapstick plot combined with Jonathan Allen's riotous watercolor illustrations of the events make for an extremely entertaining tale. Poking gentle fun at both weapons enthusiasts and at the overly politically correct, Mahy makes her point: it's your behavior and responsible actions which are important. After all, in this case, the nonviolent Applebys won the encounter by remaining calm and using available materials for defense. This is one story that will be enjoyed many times over.
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