Books: Lucky 13, Or Pile O’ Book Reviews By Daughter The Elder

October 11, 2014

It’s possible, as an adult book reviewer, to over-think the impact a story has on its intended audience. The visual stimuli provided when watching an eight-year-old read – widening eyes; giggles; the shaking of a head – confirm that there’s plenty going on that may never be expressed. Below are some efforts to transform those emotional reactions into intellectual statements.


Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done by Stephan Pastis

“He really wasn’t such a failure. I liked his friend the polar bear. Timmy has some bad ideas, but he also has some good ones. The pictures are cool. They help me understand the story, sort of. I like the bush that is trimmed into an elephant. And I think the song that Timmy plays on the piano is silly.”


Buckle And Squash And the Monstrous Moat-Dragon by Sarah Courtald

“Buckle and Squash are very brave. They save a guy that worked for a bad king, but he was actually a nice guy. There’s a princess that faints. Her name is Lavender. Her sister Eliza does all the work and has to cope with Lavender pretending to be Sleeping Beauty. There’s a goat called Gratitude that likes socks and eats dandelions. The girls pretend to have the Black Death when they’re stuck in the castles so that they will get let free. And the water’s very gloopy.”


Alexandra The Royal Fairy by Daisy Meadows

“I like that it’s about fairies. They save a baby, too. It’s a royal baby. There are two girls that help the fairies – their names are Kirsty and Rachel. The girls and one of the fairies also help a stork. Fairies are cool. I’m not sure what’s great about them. But they help others in need. And they outsmart goblins.”


I’m Dougal Trump…Where’s My Tarantula? By D Trump/Jackie Marchant

“He solves the mystery in the end, but first he likes a girl and then he likes a lizard. The lizard eats poisonous ants, which I’m happy about. Dougal’s room is a very nasty place. He likes to call meetings with his friends from school in there. He finds animals in a hollow tree and he helps them and feeds. He’s sort of nice, but he’s not the kind of guy I’d like to be friends with! I think a mouse ran around the kitchen and Dougal’s mom got very scared and jumped onto the table and screamed.”


Stargirl Academy: Ava’s Sparkling Spell by Vivian French

“I can’t remember what a Stargirl is, but they go through a tunnel to solve a mystery. They also work in a place that’s magic and if you go there at 10 o’clock, you’ll be home at 10 o’clock, no matter how long you spend there. There’s a restaurant next door to their house and her mom’s food is disgusting. A new restaurant opened and more people went there and Ava’s friends worked there. I think the spell made people disappear or something like that.”


Jamie And The Magic Whistle by Helen Brain & Nicky Webb, illustrations by Rico Schacherl

“Jamie tries to teach her dog. He listens a bit, but he’s not trained. Aboo, one of the other dogs, loses his ability to walk and they all make something so that he can be wheeled around, like humans have wheelchairs. Jamie’s brother has a monkey and a parrot. When the monkey blows the whistle, all the other dogs run around and Jamie’s dog stays.”


Zoe And Beans: Hello Ladybird! by Chloe and Mick Inkpen

“This book was too short for me. I like long books, because you don’t finish them so soon and you can enjoy them and you don’t know what is coming. This story was a tiny bit sweet. That’s all I though about it.”


A Scarlet Tail by Susan Long and Claire Norden

“I like that the writing rhymes in the story. I like that I’s about birds because I like birds and I like all animals and birds are part of the animal kingdom. There’s a parrot that flies really fast and he has to practise doing that every night. I’m glad that the parrot is friends with a bee, but I think the bee thinks that some of the stuff he does is too strange and scary for her.”


Be Bright: Level 1 (6-8 Years) by Anita Potgieter

“This is challenging. I like filling in the spaces in the sentences, but it’s quite difficult to understand when shapes are supposed to be numbers. One of the exercises had butterflies, which is great, because I like butterflies. It’s a very cool book, because you can learn things using pictures of ice cream and fruit.”


Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett

“It says that Matilda’s cat likes to do all these interesting things. But it’s actually Matilda that likes to do things and dresses up like a cat. All that Matilda’s cat likes is Matilda. This book doesn’t actually have a lot of sentences.”


Jojo’s Wire Car by Veronica Lamond

“Jojo has to do a lot of work. Shame. He was living a very hard life. He hardly ever had time to play. There’s a school that’s running a wire car competition and he tries to make a car for it. It’s easy for him to imagine a car; he knows what to do but his granny says he has to go to bed before he can finish it. But he does well in the end.”


The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischmann, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

“The great-granddaughter finds a box with lots of small matchboxes with different things in them, like pictures, that make a diary. A diary is a way to remember what happens to you. The great-grandfather was very poor when he was growing up. It doesn’t say how he felt about that, but he looks weary. When he sucked on an olive stone, it helped. His father had to go to America to make money. I love the pictures in this book. And the matchboxes.”


Really Really Big Questions About Science by Holly Cave, illustrated by Marc Aspinall

“This book answers questions like ‘Are ghosts real?’. It tells you interesting things, like when life started on Earth. It’s also funny sometimes – there’s one question that asks, ‘Why don’t I look like a banana?’. I think I like story books more than science books. It’s cool to learn things, though.”