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Welcome to ReadThatAgain.com, a just-for-fun website reviewing a bunch of children's books that our family has enjoyed over the last few years. We try to find fun, intelligent, well-crafted books, but most importantly, books that kids like! Hopefully you'll find these reviews useful... Please feel free to comment on the site or send recommendations for books we may have missed... In the meantime, enjoy!

This is the first page of books written by authors under the letter "V"






Kids Books -- "V" By Author

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"Tails"
Written by Matthew Van Fleet
Illustrated by Matthew Van Fleet
(Red Wagon Books, 2003)

Probably the ultimate lift-the-flap book of 2003, this one's a real doozie, featuring all kinds of animal tails, fuzzy, rubbery, bumpy, scaly... The rhyming scheme ain't bad, but the pictures and all the bells and whistles -- lifting flaps, a scratch'n'smell skunk, a climactic four-page fold-out of a whale -- make this irresitible to little hands and eyes. It's a fun book. I'm not sure, but I think I saw that in a second edition the glittery peacock tail is now a dull blue... I could be wrong, though... Anyway, this one's highly recommended. (A)


"The Cuddle Book"
Written by Guido Van Genechten
Illustrated by Guido Van Genechten
(Harper Collins, 2003)

A simple celebration of physical affection, showing how all the animals -- bears, ducks, even crabs -- cuddle with their children. Then of course, it ends with us humans... My only complaint is that the book winds up by saying that there's nothing better than cuddles from Mommy. But what about us daddies? (Or kids that don't have mommies, for that matter?) Other than that, though, this is a fine book. Little depth, but lots of warmth.
(B-)


"When Winter Comes"
Written by Nancy Van Laan
Illustrated by Susan Gaber
(Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, 2000)

One of the loveliest nature-appreciation, changing-of-the-seasons books I know of... Whereas many of this sort of book seem stilted or awkward, this hits every note perfectly. The artwork -- showing two parents ushering their (gender-nonspecific) child through a world of newly fallen snow -- has a feeling of expansiveness and wonder. The color tones are soft and compelling, and the layout captures a sense of nature's openness and vastness, supporting the text beautifully. In simple rhymes, the text asks where the various animals go -- field mice, fish, birds -- when winter arrives, ending, of course with the little human child nestled up snug in bed for naptime after a lovely walk in nature. It's a pretty book, well worth checking out... One of the few "nature books" my daughter has sat still for. (A)


"Wake Up, City"
Written by Susan Verlander
Illustrated by Susan Verlander
(Chronicle Books, 2004)

A stylish, vibrant wake-up book, set in urban environs. This shows shopkeepers and subway cars, stalled commuters and school buses, all setting off to greet the day, already afire with loud noises and dazzling color. The artwork is cartoony and a little too stylized, and the text a bit thin, but if you're in the right mood, this could be a lot of fun. Beep, beep! Make way for the big city!! (C+)


"Over The Moon" A Treasury Of Nursery Rhymes"
Adapted by Charlotte Voake
Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
(Clarkson A. Potter, 1985)

A nice, hefty collection of nursery rhymes, with pictures from one of my favorite illustrators. Lots of obscure entries, and plenty of classics as well. Voake tends to favor toned-down versions of a few of these ditties, but there are also plenty of dark, disturbing poems as well. As with many childrens' books, a bit of fancy footwork and skillful editing on the sly will work wonders as you read this with your child. Nice, compelling edition -- long out of print, but worth tracking down. (B+)


"Mr. Davies And The Baby"
Written by Charlotte Voake
Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
(Candlewick, 1996)

A cute, true-life story about a little terrier who decides to start going out on walks with a stroller-pushing neighbor and her child... Each morning he slips under his fence and follows them around, and people think that he's their dog. They like the little doggie, but when he starts to misbehave -- chasing birds and bicyclists -- the mom asks Mr. Davies' owners to tie him up and stop him from following them on their walks. She soon regrets the decision, and has to find another way to work things out. It's a somewhat prosaic book (based on a true story) but Voake's presentation is delightful... I really like her easy, free-flowing style. (B)


"Ginger"
Written by Charlotte Voake
Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
(Candlewick, 1997)

A delightful, if painfully accurate, story about two housepets who don't get along. Ginger is the older and more established cat of the house, and he is terribly put out when his human -- a sweet little girl -- brings home a rambunctious, new little kitten. After the kitten raids Ginger's food and crowds him in his basket bed, the older cat leaves home in protest. The little girl finds Ginger huddled outside, and figures out how to resolve the problem (by giving the kitten his own food and bed) and the two cats wind up being friends after all. Nice text and illustrations, easy to follow and discuss. Recommended!
(B+)


"Ginger Finds A Home"
Written by Charlotte Voake
Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
(Candlewick, 2003)

A prequel to Voake's endearing Ginger, this tells the story of how an emaciated stray cat living outside in the bushes is tamed by a little girl who offers him food and affection. The sadness of the introductory part is balanced by the happy ending. Still, this story ends a bit abruptly and lacks the character growth of the first book... Affection for the cat and the little girl will draw readers in, and this volume gives just enough to satisfy that interest. I'd love to see a third Ginger book where the kitties have more of an adventure; I think that would help this one feel a bit more whole and less like it's dangling in space. Overall, though, it's another nice book. and captures the feline mind with economy and grace.
(B)




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