Mina, by Matthew Forsythe

One star, read in March 2022. What a weird story. The illustrations are pretty, but nothing earth-shattering. The text is fine, but the premise is just bizarre. I’m not a fan of stories that make it look charming and eccentric when incompetent adults endanger their children by being blithe and careless (and I really dislike…

The Little Gardener, by Emily Hughes

Four stars, read in February 2022. Absolutely gorgeous illustrations, and I adore it despite the fact that the ending is a little disconnected from the rest of the story. The little gardener is so exhausted and discouraged by the impossibility of his task, he falls asleep for a month, and in the meantime, his wish…

Following Papa’s Song, by Gianna Marino

Three stars, read in February 2022. The illustrations are the reason to read this book. The text is fine, but a little too repetitive for me—it does that thing where almost every instance of dialogue involves the characters using each other’s names, which doesn’t happen in real life. “Papa? Are we going very far?”“Yes, Little…

The Big Bad Wolf in My House, by Valérie Fontaine and Nathalie Dion

Five stars, read in February 2022. Beautiful illustrations for a very well-written story about a young girl whose house is invaded by an abusive monster. Pretty grim, especially given that sexual abuse is implied in addition to physical, emotional, and verbal. But the book ends optimistically and introduces the idea of shelters in what I…

1, 2, 3, Off to School! by Marianne Dubuc

Five stars, read in February 2022. This is fantastically cute and I like it a lot, but I also have weird issues with it. The text is tiny, and all the little side dialogue makes the experience of reading it almost like one of those search and find books rather than a traditional story. It…

Survivor Tree, by Marcie Colleen and Aaron Becker

Four stars, read in January 2022. All right, look. I’ve been over 9/11 for a long time. I lived in Texas when it happened, and yes, it was truly awful. But in the grand scheme of violence done in this world, particularly by us? Let’s just have some perspective, right? All of which is to…

Amazing Peace, by Maya Angelou

One star, read in December 2013. Of course this was gorgeous, and in general, I love Maya Angelou’s . . . everything. But I didn’t love this book’s illustrations, and frankly, if the poem weren’t written by Maya Angelou I would give it negative stars. Because as nice an idea as this “amazing peace” is,…

The Princess and the Three Knights, by Karen Kingsbury

One star, read in June 2013. I hated this for many reasons, and in spite of the almost too beautiful illustrations. (In fact, in the context of the drippy overbearing Christianness of the story, the illustrations were too beautiful, and I scoffed at them even as I liked them.) Typical patriarchal fairy tale storyline: Very white, blonde…

In the Wild, by David Elliott and Holly Meade

The illustration in this book is definitely worth 5 stars—it is absolutely gorgeous! My niece picked it up at the library and was ready to put it down again, but I made her check it out after glimpsing the pages. Then she went home, and I kept it to read for myself. The poems I…

Goddesses: A World of Myth and Magic, by Burleigh Muten

This book is essentially an encyclopedia of goddesses. Starting with A—Aataentsic (Iroquois); Aditi (Hindu); Ama-terasu (Japan); Aphrodite, Artemis, and Athena (Greece)—and going through the alphabet to Z—Zaramama (Peru), Zoe (Gnostic), the Zorya (Czechoslovakia)—there’s a short description of each goddess and her powers, along with a pronunciation guide to their names. I love the illustrations by Rebecca…