Friday, July 25, 2008

a smattering of kid stuff...random thoughts


Mr. Duey Class Dis-Missed CD.

I'm willing to bet that nearly all of my fellow 40-ish crowd remembers Schoolhouse Rock, right? Those fun educational snippets stuck in between Saturday morning cartoons. (Because much to my children's horror, that's the only time during the week that cartoons were available.) Anyway, I, for one, absolutely loved Schoolhouse Rock, and I definitely learned from the catchy little songs as well. I can still to this day recite the Preamble to the Constitution thanks to good old Schoolhouse Rock.

But why am I talking about Schoolhouse Rock when I'm supposed to be reviewing Mr. Duey Class Dis-Missed? It's just that I simply can't help but think back to good old Schoolhouse Rock, when I listen to this CD...the similarities are obvious. But then again, they are two very different creatures. Mr. Duey Class Dis-Missed is an educational CD aimed generally at the upper elementary and possibly even at the middle school set. It contains 17 songs, covering a wide range of subjects...everything from integers to adjectives to atoms to the branches of government.

Our family has listened to this CD a few times now. In general, the reviews are positive. The kids seem to enjoy it a great deal more than Rich and I do. But that's both understandable (as the musical genre is rap, a type of music neither Rich nor I enjoy) and okay (as the CD isn't aimed at adults, but at kids). And despite the fact that Rich and I don't particularly enjoy listening to it, we both definitely see its educational value. In fact, Rich even plans to play a number titled "Cells" to his non-majors biology class both for fun and because they may actually pick up something from it.

Bottom line, while this CD may not be for everyone, we definitely see its potential as a fun, educational tool, both at home and at school. Which for some of us is all the same thing. :)

*****


The Rabbit and the Snowman by Sally O. Lee.

The boys (aged 5 and 7, as most of you know) and I have some differences of opinion on this one. Gray and Max both really enjoyed this story. I, on the other hand, found it lacking that special charm I want to experience with a picture book.

It is a story of a snowman built in the woods by a bunch of children one snowy day. But the children go home at the end of the day, and never come back. The snowman can't help but wonder what is wrong with him that all his friends would desert him. Then he meets a rabbit, and the two of them become friends and enjoy one another's companionship until spring. Then, of course, the snowman melts. And the rabbit is left wondering what is wrong with him that his friend would desert him. When winter rolls around again, the snowman reappears, and he and the rabbit pick up where they left off.

This may sound a stupid thing to say, but I couldn't help but feel that this story either needed more words or fewer. There were passages that I really enjoyed, like this one:

They talked about how the snow made a crunchy sound when it was a few days old. And how the sun trickled through the trees to make streams of light.

They talked about how the birds made their nest high in the trees so that no one could find them.

They talked about how the stars lit up the sky when it was dark.


But much of the book felt quite choppy to me. It also didn't "feel right" to me how the snowman just reappeared the next winter. When I asked the boys if this bothered them, Gray replied, "Mom, haven't you ever heard of magic?!!" Guess he put me in my place, huh?

So, here we've got a story that I found lacking, but the boys enjoyed. But this isn't where our differences of opinion ended. Because I thoroughly enjoyed much of the artwork, and the boys didn't like it at all! In fact, I had to bribe Max just to get him to hold up the book so I could take this photo:



This is an example of the art that I love so much...I wish I had a print of this one to frame and hang in the boys' room. Though they don't like it, so I guess that idea's a bust anyway. :)

Bottom line, the boys (target audience) loved the story but didn't like the art. Mom not impressed with the story, but found much of the art perfectly delightful.

*****


Cat by Mike Dumbleton.

And finally, in one of those last but definitely not least situations, we have this wonderful picture book. I ordered this one on Becky's suggestion. This book was perfect for Max in so many ways, not the least of which, of course, was because it featured a cat!
The story was simple, but very cute! And it was written at the perfect level for Max to read. He hasn't picked up reading nearly as easily as his older brother and sister did, but he enjoys it very much. It's always gratifying to find a book that challenges him without frustrating him. And in addition to all that, the artwork by Craig Smith is positively wonderful!

Bottom line, this was our favorite of all three of these kid offerings! Max and I were in complete agreement that this book is a definite winner!

*****

If you have reviewed any of the above, feel free to leave a link in the comments and I will add it here. Thanks.

Bookfool at Bookfoolery and Babble (The Rabbit and the Snowman)
Mrs. S. at Blue Archipelago (The Rabbit and the Snowman)
Becky at Becky's Book Reviews (Cat)

8 comments:

Trish said...

We (me and coworkers) were just talking about Schoolhouse rock the other day! I don't remember them being on TV (20ish crowd here), but I do remember them from grade school.

Ha ha--cute picture of Max! What did you have to bribe him with?? ;)

Jean said...

Ooh, I need to see if I can find Physics Pholk Songs for you guys!

Dawn said...

I love(d) School House Rock!!! I have it on video and DVD! I could belt out the preamble with you. That song never left my head! I teach my kindergarteners the noun song. I hope they never forget it!

I'm with you on the art work of that book! It's very nice.

take care,
Dawn

Bookfool said...

Yeah, I remember Schoolhouse Rock!

Funny that your kids hated the illustrations but loved the story. I felt like you did -- the story was lacking but I loved the illustrations. I wish I had the energy to find some children to run it past, but I'm just going to pass mine on to the kids across the street (4 children from about ages 4-15), via the teenager. They're buddies, so I'll just say, "Hey, give this to the H's." You'd have loved living across from me when I decided to do away with the homeschooling materials. :)

Cute pic of Max!

Becky said...

I loved Schoolhouse Rock, though I didn't experience so much on TV on Saturdays as through VHS tapes and later DVD. My brother-in-law has the collection on DVD, and one of the things I did soon after meeting him was ask to borrow it!

I'm *so* glad you enjoyed CAT. Sometimes it's hard to find a picture book where you like both the story and the illustrations. Usually I find myself liking one and disliking the other. Rarely is there a *perfect* book where I adore them both. But when I do find them, I have to gush.

Not to be silly, but you do know that I review picture books at my Young Readers site, right? It's my site for reviewing books for those aged zero to ten.

Carl V. said...

Schoolhouse Rock was one of my favorite things about Saturday morning cartoons. I still know bunches of the songs. It was such a creative way to educate kids and it stuck!

Nymeth said...

I'm not a big fan of rap either, but it's good that the kids enjoyed the CD.

Cat sounds so adorable!

gail@more than a song said...

I like that artwork too! And my kids didn't always like what I liked either, sigh.