Mom and Me Reviews: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth The ABC Storybook

First Line: “Sarah wants to be an actress.”

Summary: If you’ve seen the movie by the Jim Henson group (with David Bowie), then you know the storyline.

Basically, a teenage girl is left to babysit her little brother. She becomes annoyed by him as she is trying to read and rehearse lines from her play. She wishes that the “goblin king” would take her brother away, like the girl in the story she’s reading does. The Goblin King grants her wish, and Sarah has to solve a labyrinth within 13 hours to get her little brother back. As expected, the labyrinth is filled with magical tricks that make her journey even more difficult.

Ratings:

                Maggie: 9 out of 10

                Conor: Did not participate in this storytime

                Mama Lala: 7 out of 10

Their Thoughts: I like the movie, and the story! It gives you such an imagination. I like all of the magical characters. It’s an ABC book, but it reads like a storybook instead of a baby ABC book. The pictures are good. If you haven’t seen the movie, the story doesn’t make sense… it doesn’t “fill in the gaps”. It just didn’t “move me” enough to get a “10”.

My Thoughts: I appreciate that this book is both an abc book, AND a storybook. It helps to bridge the gap between my two kiddo’s wide age range (2 and 9). My kids have seen and, as they should, LOVE this movie. IF they hadn’t i’m not sure it would be clear what happens in this story. Some characters are introduced, but their presence isn’t explained. All in all, I’m grateful this has been made into a storybook, but I had higher hopes for it. The illustrations are magically marvelous, though.

Happy Reading our friends,

Mama Lala, Maggie, & Conor

Mom and Me Reviews: The Tempest

First line: “My noble master, Prospero, is a clever magician.”

Summary: This book retells William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest as a Children’s picture book. If you haven’t read Shakespeare’s play by the same name, here is a quick overview: Prospero, duke of Milan, is overthrown by his jealous brother, Antonio. Alonso and his brother Sebastian help Antonio accomplish this. Antonio puts Prospero and his daughter in a boat and casts them out to sea. The boat washes ashore an island where an evil witch and her son rule. He rescues the spirit (our narrator) from the witch, then uses him for his own gain. Years pass. One day a boat carrying the people who wronged Prospero passes by. Prospero calls on the spirit (our narrator) to seek revenge on them– not to kill but to scare, and possibly abandon on an island, the way his has been abandoned. The spirit and prospero try to manipulate the island’s inhabitants to a fate of their choosing.

Ratings: Maggie gives this picture book 6 out of 10 stars. Conor did not hear this story. Mama Lala also gives this picture book 6 out of 10 stars.

Their Thoughts: I shared this book with my oldest, Maggie. She is nine. She liked that “it was magical”, and “it was colorful”. She had trouble understanding the book also because “my age group doesn’t read those kinds of things.” She had trouble connecting with the book, she said.

My Thoughts: The illustrations are beautiful. This retelling, though shortened for the benefit of a younger reader, still seems out-of-range for most picture book readers. I’d say this one is more for the parents, than the children it was intended to be read to. That said, Ellinas did a decent job of shortening the story to important plot points, in an understandable language for children.

Happy Reading, our friends!

— Mama Lala, Maggie, & Conor

Mom & Me Reviews: A Super-Heroine Guide

If you are a lover of the comic superhero realm, you’ve likely been asked this classic question:
Marvel or DC?

It is a timeless question with many variations of answer.

Sam Maggs, a comic book maker, suggests we might love both. She wrote both Marvel Fantastic and Fantastic– Female Super Heroes Save the World, AND Brave and Bold!– Female DC Super Heroes Take on the Universe.

The Top 10 Greatest Female Superheroes In The History of Comic Books

First Line:

(Brave and Bold): “In a universe filled with adventure and danger, the brave female Super Heroes of DC’s comic books change the world and shape the future.”

(Fearless and Fantastic): “Students, warriors, secret agents, inventors, crime fighters, journalists… the inspiring female Super Heroes of Marvel Comics make their marks in many different ways.”

Summary: The two books aver compatible in organization, illustration, and writing. If you are looking for a brief introduction to the heroes of both the DC and Marvel world, these two books are a decent place to start. If you are particularly interested in the FEMALE superheroes, this is a GOOD place to start.

Considering the size of each book, Maggs does a good job choosing which POPULAR FEMALE COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS FROM MARVEL AND DC - Comic Book and  Movie Reviewscharacters to introduce to the audience. Fresh artwork of each character fills one of two pages allotted to them. About two paragraphs lie on the adjacent page– words devoted to a brief description of WHY this character got into the superhero business, and where their abilities lie. One of the most interesting features of these books, is the footnote at the bottom of each entry, directing the reader to two to four other superheroes who are “friends, allies, and role models” of the character in question. Of course, only other heroes listed within the book are included. Pepper Pots might love Tony Stark, but he is not listed among the allies at the bottom of her page.

My Thoughts: One caveat of these books are the age directed, when reflecting the writing. Carrying a Lexile of approximately 1200-1400, one would suggest this book be directed to 5th graders (at the youngest). However, because the content is at such an introductory level it could also be directed to younger age groups. In these cases, I’d suggest the content be read aloud by an adult to the young ones. (My daughter is in 2nd grade, at the time of reading, and this worked well for us. Every once in awhile I had to explain the meaning of a word, but it wasn’t often enough to make it not worth the while.)

Today is a great day to introduce your littles to these “wonderful women”. Boy or girl, young or old, having women worth looking up to is important. Though fictional, these women are a great place to start.

Happy reading, my friends!

Mama Lala (Chelsea) & Maggie