ToyDirectory
December 1, 2020

TDmonthly Magazine

August 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 8


TDmonthly's Book Expert

One Educated Bookworm's Opinion

By Dorothea DePrisco Wang
August 2007

If you want to know which books to sell in your toy store, find out what the kids have to say. Each month, children's book author Dorothea DePrisco Wang reads new titles to kids, gives her educated opinion on positioning and sales to TDmonthly Magazine readers, and rates the books with 1 to 5 TDs (for TDmonthly!); “5” is the highest rating.

This month, she grooves to some jazz, embarks on a robot adventure, searches for Santa with animal friends, and much more.

Title: Hello Rousseau
Author: Catherine de Duve (in association with the Reunion des Musees Nationaux)
Publisher: BIRDCAGE PRESS
Gender: Boys and Girls
Age: 7 and Up
MSRP: $9.95

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: This 32-page trade paperback book focuses on the life and art of Henri Rousseau.

Why You Should Carry It:
I believe parents whose children are interested in the arts want to see more books of this kind, but often can’t find them. This paperback allows the child to get to know the artist through stories, games and drawing exercises. By delving into the artist’s life, the book shows children that artists start out in life just as they do — with interests and passion. ”Hello Rousseau” is a wonderful way for a child to explore his or her own imagination. The price point is high, however, for a 32-page paperback. This could pose some stumbling blocks unless the marketing plan is to sell it in high-end channels, such as museums.

What Kids Think:
I spent a small amount of time showing this to a few children. Ages 6 and up really enjoyed working on the drawing exercises.

Title: Jazz Baby
Author: Lisa Wheeler
Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie
Publisher: HARCOURT
Gender: Boys and Girls
Age: 3 to 7
MSRP: $16.00

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: A hardcover picture book featuring a loving family who enjoy the sounds and movements of jazz music. It’s a warm, engaging book that promotes music and family time.

Why You Should Carry It:
The illustrations are a lovely match for the movin’ groovin’ text of this picture book. Mama, Daddy, Auntie, Uncle, cousins and grandparents all take turns showing Baby how to dance and move. From the rompin’-stompin’ to the toe-taps and soft-shoes, Baby learns to appreciate all kinds of jazz music. As the book comes to an end, Baby is lulled to sleep with the sounds of the deep, sultry blues. It’s a great all-year-round title.

What Kids Think:
Children ages 4 to 5 loved the text and kept their eyes on what the baby was doing in every spread. They especially enjoyed the “busy-dizzy” baby dancing round and round.

Title: City Lullaby
Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Carll Cneut
Publisher: CLARION BOOKS
Gender: Boys and Girls
Age: 3 to 5
Price: $16.00

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: A hardcover picture book featuring the cityscape and counting down from 10 to 1.

Why You Should Carry It:
First, I think the cover is fantastic. It’s colorful, it’s rich and the title is intriguing. Although the editorial and book design are creative, I do not believe it delivers the best book possible. The text on the right side of each spread should be larger, and there ought to have been a connection among the countdown, the city, the baby and the lullaby. Editorially, each page focuses on the sounds of the city, but I would have liked to have seen the text relate to the sleeping baby in a more meaningful way. It also lacks consistency in the amount of text from page to page. It probably will sell, though, based on the cover and illustrations.

What Kids Think:
Kids related to the sounds of the city and imitated them.

Title: Wake Up Engines
Author: Denise Dowling Mortensen
Illustrator: Melissa Iwai
Publisher: CLARION BOOKS
Age: 3 and Up
Gender: Boys and Girls
MSRP: $16.00

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: A picture book about the engines and vehicles that a child sees in his or her everyday life.

Why You Should Carry It:
If you are in search of a new preschool picture book, this warm and engaging rhyming book is a nice choice. The book takes readers through the day of a toddler and his family. It features close-up illustrations of buses, trucks and planes. A young boy experiences vehicles through real work, starting the day with his mom in the car, and also through play and imagination. The book uses simple rhyming text:

Wake up engines,
Brand-new day.
Fasten seatbelt,
Drive away.
Morning traffic,
Motors hum.
HONK, HONK!
TOOT! TOOT!
BRMM! BRMM! BRMM!


What Kids Think:
Children ages 3 and up enjoyed this book. Rather than have me read it more than once, they requested that they each get a chance to look at it on their own. They responded best to vehicles they were used to seeing everyday (such as the garbage truck and school bus).

Title: Where, Oh Where, Is Santa Claus?
Author: Lisa Wheeler
Illustrator: Ivan Bates
Publisher: HARCOURT
Ages: 3 to 7
Gender: Boys and Girls
Price: $16.00

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: A picture book about Santa Claus, who has gone missing!

Why You Should Carry It:
This Christmas and winter title focuses on animals working together to save their dear Santa Claus. Children will enjoy seeing the reindeer, rabbits, seals, a fox and polar bears all searching for Santa. The animals gather together and with a “HEAVE-HO!” pull Santa out of large pile of snow. Everyone’s looking to spend more money at Christmas, and if you are in search of a title that is a pleasant read by the fire, this is a simple, nice choice.

What Kids Think:

Children ages 3 to 5 enjoyed the silly rhyming text and the delightful animals.

Title: Your Very Own Robot, Choose Your Own Adventure
Author: R. A. Montgomery
Publisher: CHOOSECO LLC
Ages: 8 and Up
Gender: Boys and Girls
MSRP: $5.99

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: A paperback book for 7- and 8-year-olds that allows the child to choose where the story is going to go.

Why You Should Carry It:
I think everyone I’ve ever worked for wanted me to come up with a “choose your own adventure” project. The movement was probably inspired by Tom Hanks’ movie “Big,” in which he creates a video game that allows children to “choose their own adventure.” I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone do it in a way that’s fascinatingly novel.

However, for this age group, the publisher makes it work in this book. As the child reads, he can choose to turn to a certain page, which brings him to a different story. Fairly boy-oriented in its approach, this story is geared toward invention and discovery. The font, design and illustration need work, and the cover could have been more clean and concise.

What Kids Think:
I had a few boys and girls read this. They liked it and thought it was a good idea. One child remarked that it was a little confusing at first, but then he got the hang of it.

Title: Small Sister
Author: Jessica Meserve
Publisher: CLARION BOOKS
Ages: 3 to 5
Gender: Boys and Girls
MSRP: $16.00

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: A picture book about big sisters and younger sisters. The main character, Small, feels as if she will never escape the shadow of her older sister.

Why You Should Carry It:
This book is a great springboard for talking to older toddlers about family and expressing emotions. I come from a family of five girls and so this particular story rang very true for me. One day, “Small” gets very mad at “Big” and lets Big’s parrot out of her cage. But the act makes Small feel even smaller. The story focuses on the meaning of “small” and “big” with meaningful and poignant delivery. It’s a great read for young children who need to learn how friendship and family work.

What Kids Think:
Children loved this book and responded to Small in a big way! They were very quiet as I read to them. They asked if we could read it again.

Title: Dolly Goes to the Supermarket
Author: Alison Lynne and Lealand Eve
Publisher: DHM
Ages: 3 and Up
Gender: Boys and Girls
MSRP: $19.95

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: This novelty book allows a child to dress a 10”- to 18”-tall doll in the clothes — a dress, sweater and booties — that come with the book. The girl in the story takes her doll to the store and plays the role of parent.

Why You Should Carry It:
The story allows the child to role-play being a parent, with the doll as a child. It follows the child through an average day with a parent. Based on the doll clothes, I think that this could work for mass market. I don’t believe the art, story or book design are going to sell this book; the attraction is the novelty aspect.

What Kids Think:
Girls thought this was cute … and they were fighting over the doll clothes!

Title: Making Healthy Choices
Author: Merilee A. Kern
Publisher: STARBOUND BOOKS
Ages: 5 to 7
Gender: Boys and Girls
Price: $11.95

TDmonthly rating:



What It Is: A fictional story about an overweight girl and her struggles to overcome unhealthy habits. It is designed to set overweight children on a healthy course and inspire fit, weight-wise kids who make wise lifestyle decisions.

Why You Should Carry It:
It’s great that there are people willing to address the issues concerning children with poor eating habits. I don’t know exactly what market this book is aimed at, though. It’s very wordy and includes only black-and-white drawings. So I think this is a great book for teachers, administrators, homeschoolers and other educational outlets.

What Kids Think:
I did not have the opportunity to share this book with an age-appropriate audience.







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