"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Monday, March 28, 2011

Skippyjon Jones

by Judy Schachner

Let's take a break from the serious book I am currently finishing up, and review an awesome children's book I came across at the library bookstore for 50 cents!  I love the occasional gem I find at these places.  It makes me wonder why someone would give up such a fun book, especially as it sat amid a sad plethora of Disney princess books and the "new and improved" version of Winnie-the-Pooh.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind these things for their own value, but compared to this unique and fun book, the rest seem like boring replicas of each other.  Enough said.

Skippyjon Jones (don't you love that name?!) is a Siamese kitten who has a wild and vibrant imagination.  First he pretends he's a bird, until his mother gets him out of the tree and puts him in to time-out in his room.  Which only leads to offering him even more opportunity to explore his imagination as he goes on adventure as his pretend Chihuahua alter-ego, El Skippito. 

Two things drew my eye immediately to these book while thumbing through the other mundane offerings.  First, the front cover art.  With children's books, you can actually tell a lot about a book by the cover alone.  This one just made me smile, because that cat looks like he's got a lot of character.  The second thing I noticed was the little award symbol, which is a good, quick, visual indication that a book has a good chance of being worthy of your time and money.  The award on this one happens to be the "E.B. White Read Aloud Award".  If you don't recognize that name off the top of your head, E.B. White wrote Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, to name two of my favorite of his works.  I'd never heard of this particular award, but any book that receives an award for being a good "read aloud" book is usually good - and it was.

If you are lucky enough to come across this one at some yard sale or library clearance, snatch it up before someone else does.  After doing some quick research it looks like there are other books about this funny cat, so I'll be keeping an eye for those as well.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Funny in Farsi

by Firoozeh Dumas

I was looking for a something a little different to read and came across this memoir about an Iranian family that moves to America.  It made me laugh and it also made me a little sad about some people's attitudes towards those them don't understand.  Oddly enough, for as "different" as this family is from my own, it reminded me of the many similarities we all have. 

I'll be the first to admit I don't know much about Iran, so I enjoyed being enlightened by this book.  I also learned a little more about the reaction that Americans had when the Iranian hostage crisis took place.  And it made me appreciate a little more the massive amount of culture shock an immigrant faces when moving to a new country. 

All of these serious topics are covered through hysterical stories of her family.  Her father, always dreaming of making it big, an uncle who tries every crazy weight loss idea offered on TV, and mostly through stories about herself as she attends her first school, her first summer camp, and gets her first babysitting job.  Her father is a particularly memorable character and reminds me at times of my own. 

If you don't know much about the culture of Iran, this is a good book to start with.