September 30, 2014

[Book Review] Peter Panda Melts Down by Artie Bennett

I received a copy of this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Peter Panda Melts Down! is a picture book about a bear cub with a penchant for throwing tantrums and a mother who gets so wound up by the end of the day that she has one of her own. Amusingly enough, I've seen something very similar before: The Berenstain Bears Get the Screamies, in which Mama Bear throws a childlike tantrum in hopes of teaching Brother and Sister Bear a lesson. And I make no secret of the fact that, as with many of the Berenstain Bears stories, I quite dislike that book. Luckily, Peter Panda Melts Down! puts a different spin on the concept and, honestly, considering how much I couldn't stand Get the Screamies, there was nowhere to go but up.

Before I get to the story itself, I want to say that the artwork is quite cute, and I can imagine a child having a ton of fun listening to their parent/guardian/teacher reading this aloud, especially if the adult in question is willing to play up the "melts dowwwwnnn!" moments, in which case I'm picturing plenty of giggles.

Onto the plot. Much of Peter Panda Melts Down! serves to establish that, yes, Peter Panda friggin' melts down, and he does it a lot. He does in the car, he does it in the store, and he does it at home. He melts down again and again all day until finally, almost inevitably, Mama Panda melts down herself.

Now, I'm actually a little uncertain how I feel about the ending. Basically, I think I'm a little thrown that it's open to some interpretation, which very few picture books for children are. (I'm not sure if it was intended to be open to more than one interpretation, but that's beside my point.) The issue is that there are two ways to take Mama Panda's meltdown: is she acting out a meltdown she doesn't truly feel in order to show Peter Panda how annoying he's been all day and hopefully teach him a lesson, as Mama Bear did to her kids in The Berenstain Bears Get the Screamies? Or is she finally letting go after being screamed at in public all day and having a genuine tantrum herself thanks to her frazzled nerves? I'd say that the text implies the later, as it refers to her meltdown as "let[ting] off some steam", but that the accompanying artwork implies the former, as the actual image of the meltdown has a kind of purposefully over-dramatic, play-acting look about Mama Panda's expression. I'm not super thrilled with either interpretation, personally, as I don't exactly think of either solution as admirable parenting... but, of course, Peter Panda Melts Down! isn't intended to be a parenting guide, so I suppose I'm probably over-thinking it.

Like I said, it's quite cutely illustrated and a great read-aloud. It's quick and short, and it rhymes (and what kid doesn't love rhymes?), and if your child has a habit of throwing tantrums, it might be something to check out. Perhaps Mama Panda's meltdown will be able to impart some wisdom to your kid(s) and save you from a few meltdowns of your own.

Want to buy this or another product for the panda fan in your life? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!

September 29, 2014

[Book Review] Poopendous! by Artie Bennett

I received a copy of this picture book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Continuing in the trend of Belches, Burps, and Farts--Oh My! and The Butt Book by Artie Bennet is Poopendous!, a book that tackles an even less "acceptable" subject than gas or butts: excrement. Fictional Professor Pip Poopdeck guides the reader through the book's "putrid and shocking and horrid" subject in hopes of teaching that excrement is more than just the thing that humans hide out of sight in a septic tank (or porta-potty, latrine, etcetera).

There's an "everybody poops" element here as the good Professor talks about how--you guessed it--everyone and almost everything (at least as far as animals a toddler knows about goes) does it, teaching some more unique words for specific types of excrement (guano, dung, flyspecks) and talking about characteristics of some of the more unusual types of animal droppings (wombats cubes, wet bird poop). And once that's out of the way, the book moves on to discussing--in rhyme, of course--how dung is used around the world and in the animal kingdom. It talks about dung beetles (how could it not?) and fertilizer, endozoochory and territorial marking via scat, and how the Mongols and Masai use dung in their construction, as well as some of humanity's sillier uses for poop.

Essentially, it's a frank but funny look at poop that attempts to utilize most children's love of potty humor as an opportunity to learn. I'd say it does a good job of normalizing the subject and manages to avoid making it seem too gross, though I wouldn't be surprised to hear that some parents/teachers comfortable with Belches, Burps, and Farts--Oh My! and The Butt Book might still have some trouble with the idea of reading an entire book about poop.

On the other hand, the three books come together to make an amusing trilogy of educational potty humor, each revolving around the rear in some capacity. I definitely recommend checking out all of them if you think they're the type of thing you and your children/students might be interested in (or you have already read/enjoyed one of them); personally, I'd start with Butt before moving on to Belches and then Poop, but that's just me.

I'm going to be on the lookout for more humorous edutainment books like this in the future, so if you have any recommendations, feel free to let me know below!

Want to buy this or another body-function-related children's product? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!

September 28, 2014

Showcase Sunday [2014 #15]

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme from Books, Biscuits, and Tea.

[Book Review] The Butt Book by Artie Bennett

I received a copy of this picture book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Butt Book was absolutely adorable. If you happened to read my review of Belches, Burps, and Farts--Oh My! by the same author, this book is much in the same vein as that. Both are humorous, education books about topics that might be a bit taboo in a lot of families, schools, or other environments but provide easy giggles to youngsters around picture book age.

The Butt Book was every bit as good as Belches, Burps, and Farts--Oh My!, quickly rolling through a lot of information--from some global words for "butt" to a brief look at some interesting animal butts to the various human uses for the butt (kid-friendly, of course!)--with cute rhymes and some wacky drawings (I'm particularly fond of the picture of an absolutely deadpan, disinterested bald eagle with the most hilariously overemphasized butt--it's amazing). As with Belches, Burps, and Farts, I imagine kids are going to giggle their way through this and pick up some fun facts along the way. And I doubt they're going to forget what they learned any time soon.

I definitely recommend this to any parent looking for a fun but educational read for their children or students, and I'd say that it's a great idea to read it in conjunction with Belches, Burps, and Farts--Oh My!. They make a surprisingly great set, and I'm thinking I'm going to need to keep an eye out for more of this style of educational picture book. They're quite fun to read--totally the kind of thing I would've loved as a kid--and I'd love to be able to at some point create and share a list of recommended "edutainment" books. In the meantime, I'll be reading Bennett's Poopendous! next; hopefully it's just as good.

Want to buy this or another body-function-related children's product? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!

September 1, 2014

[Reading Challenge] ARC August 2014 Results

ARC August is a reading challenge/event hosted by Octavia at Read, Sleep, Repeat. As usual, I didn't do anywhere near as much as I hoped I would (I was especially lazy this month, which I will partially blame on the utterly oppressive heat of my home state at the moment). But any progress is good progress, I suppose. Here's what I got accomplished: