With the last precious days of summer slipping away, we have no time to waste on mediocre reading material. And, let's face it, we babies are confronted with quite a few books that simply don't measure up. That's why it's such a pleasant surprise to get one that really strikes a chord in our plump little breasts.
In My Tree is just such a book. My mother received In My Tree from her friend Augusta. As it happened, the book arrived not long after Augusta lost her precious owlet, and I believe the message of the book was particularly poignant for us as we read it in the shade cast by those circumstances. In My Tree is a touching story of nature, family, and home, as told by a young owl. The book artfully conveys these powerful messages through a simple plot, using language that is not overly complex, yet not insultingly simple. The illustrations are charming and bright, which my underdeveloped visual cortex finds very pleasant. In addition, the author cleverly builds tension with a sequence of cutouts that become progressively smaller with each page, culminating in a delightful tactile experience provided by a felt owl that I look forward to chewing on when I am able to grasp objects a bit more effectively. In short, a delightful summer read.
My Book of Baby Animals is as consummately a failure as In My Tree is a success. Most damning...
Excuse me. I just shat myself, and shall have to cry a bit in order to get a clean diaper.
Most damning, the title suggests a wide range of baby animals will be discussed, and the book is extremely heavy on puppies and kittens. The experience of reading My Book of Baby Animals is therefore one of disappointment. In a world filled with lemurs, ocelots, pangolins...why focus on the most quotidian of all creatures? Furthermore, it's unclear who the intended audience is for this book. One page might be written for an illiterate fetus (e.g., puppies are full of fun!) while the next requires the reader to engage in high-level counting activities. What sort of baby is this book designed for--one who is simultaneously quite stupid and quite brilliant?
In addition to the book's numerous weaknesses of tone and content, the artwork of My Book of Baby Animals is atrocious, consisting of randomly placed images of animals over dull pastel backgrounds. The sort of effect I could achieve with an hour's lackadaisical Photoshopping. If my mama would help me with the mouse. Because my fine motor skills are lacking. There is really nothing at all to recommend My Book of Baby Animals, and I intend to make my heartbreaking pout, and if necessary even shriek, if Mama ever tries to read it to me again.
So, dear readers, as your primary caregiver is packing your bags for that last trip to the beach, remember: bright smiles for In My Tree, angry tears for My Book of Baby Animals.