Archives for category: Reviews

The Arrival

For my birthday, I received the beautiful hardcover edition of The Arrival by Shaun Tan. The pictures are beautiful and the story is engaging and very interesting. What’s interesting about this book is that there are no words! However, with clever use of paneling and other inventive ideas, the pacing of the story moves wonderfully and you know what? It doesn’t need words. If you haven’t seen it before, I recommend checking it out. It’s a very fun book that you will come back to over and over. I’m sure I’ll notice details I missed the first time through.

So the girls read a couple of books this week both basically with this kind of story…


Once there was a little girl named Mitzy.  She told her grandma that she wanted to be an astronaut and her grandma said, “You’ll never be an astronaut, they won’t let girls in space.”  Mitzy was sad so she told her mom and her mom said, “You’ll never be an astronaut because you’re not smart enough.”  Mitzy started to cry and told her dad how she wanted to be an astronaut, he said, “Yeah right and I want to be a tight-rope walker.”  Mitzy decided that all of those people were awful and you know what,  she became an astronaut.

I just made up the Mitzy story but seriously why are there picture books where a kid’s parents tell them they aren’t worth anything?  Maybe the mean kid down the street could tell her that she’ll never be an astronaut but come on let the mom believe in her.

In related news Mabel told me she wants to be a Doctor when she grows up.  I told her that she’ll never amount to anything (just kidding but she is only 8 months old I’m not sure its time for her to pick a career yet).

The triplets have continued to read excessively and all enjoyed some Frog and Toad today (the one with the kite is probably the best story).  But they wanted to do something a little bit different and review their favorite songs.  So it will consist of two categories recorded music and music sung to them.

Recorded Music – they mostly listen to music during bathtime.  they don’t need to get wound up during bathtime.

Elsie’s favorite = Colors and the Kids by Cat Power – Elsie’s review – “I didn’t know it was by a band called Cat Power.”

Mabel’s favorite = Song for Zula by Phosphorescent – Mabel’s review – “Phosphorescent’s says ‘to be acknowledged by some touch from his gnarled hands’ in his song and the Beast says ‘she didn’t shutter when I touched her with my paw’ in his song.  I like both songs.”


Honeybear’s favorite = Lost Cause by Beck – Honeybear’s review – “I think we can all agree that ‘Loser’ was an anthem for a whole generation but did anyone think that the ‘Loser’ guy could produce real music without using Spanish.   Fortunately for all of us he did.”

Sung Songs – These are songs that I actually sing to them.  Realistically they probably all prefer a song that their mom sings.

Elsie – She’s Real! a cover by Built to Spill – Elsie’s review, “This would be even better if daddy knew all the words.”


Honeybear – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips – Honeybear’s review, “I do like the song but I have to admit that I really probably just like it because daddy substitutes my name for Yoshimi’s.  Maybe I learn Karate one of these days.”

Mabel – Tender by Blur – Mabel’s review, “If I’m freaking out and I mean really freaking out.  Singing this song is the only thing that really works.”

Editors note:  Yes, the girls are only 7 months old.  Yes they don’t have too much of a choice as to what to listen to.  Yes, I hope they develop a good taste in music that doesn’t involve Justin bieber but I’d be okay if it involved Justin Timberlake that guy has some real dance moves.

The triplets aren’t into watching movies yet so we decided to go ahead and read a picture book based on Return of the Jedi.  The book has been in the family for years.  They’re six months old now.  The triplet’s reactions are as follows.



Wait a second they just rebuilt the same Death Star from the first movie and then left the same fatal flaw in it only this time Lando blows it up using the Millenium Falcon instead Luke having to make a miracle shot using the force?   I guess I’m just too young to understand why this makes sense.


But where did the teddy bears learn how to fight like that?


The thing is that Luke keeps dressing in black throughout this movie.  Traditionally we associate that color with evil and we naturally do so in Star Wars because Darth Vader wears all black.  So why is Luke making this choice?  Lets think of the possibilities.

1) Luke is a tough guy and tough guys wear black.  I think we can pretty safely rule this one out.  My Dad does a good impression of Luke that sounds like a prepubescent 12 year old.

2) Luke may actually turn evil.  I’ve read the book and know that he doesn’t turn evil but I think that we are supposed to think that Luke turning evil is a possibility.  The problem is that at some point Luke whines this line of dialog,  “But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!”  Evil just isn’t an option for him.

3) Luke wears black so he can feel close to his father.  This sounds about right to me.  We’ve already ruled out the possibility of Luke being tough and Luke being evil.  So what does a completely non-tough mama’s boy do to feel closer to his father?  Anything he can.  In this case he dresses like him.

But really this whole story is about redemption.  It is possible to not only make serious mistakes in life but to recover from them and become a better man.  Darth Vader’s decision to finally betray the Emperor and stand up for what he knows to be right redeems him.  Many lives were lost because of Vader’s decisions and who knows where he will end up in the next life.  I just know that he was able to change for the better despite no one believing it would be possible.

Sometimes Dr. Seuss makes me question my sanity.  This week the girls have read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish several times and can’t get enough of it.  I assumed the book would involve counting, colors and fish.  I was clearly mistaken.  Dr. Seuss took me for a wild ride that makes even this video seem to make sense.  As always the girls share their thoughts below.


Else (she’s learning to roll over, kind of like a puppy)

Someone needs to sit the Nook down and teach him how to read.

Mabel (she’s into wearing jean shorts now)

If I had Ish’s wish dish I probably wouldn’t just wish for fish.  Ish really needs to take advantage of the wish dish and get something cooler like jean shorts.

Honeybear (she’s good on her tummy)

So in the book Ned has a difficult time with the size of his bed.  Either his head is sticking out or his feet are sticking out.  Despite my small size I fully understand this issue.  Just today I woke up with legs sticking out of my crib.  What’s that all about?  Anyway I think what Dr. Seuss has done here is reworked James Joyce’s Ulysses in such a way that it is not only accessible but enjoyable.  The same detailed stream of consciousness writing is happening here.  From one page to the next I can’t say that there is a cohesive story.  On one page two guys are talking on a broken phone and then the next one features children finding a “Clark” somewhere.  Yet somehow it sticks together and I found myself going back to it again and again throughout the last week.  The main difference between the two works is that one is a highly enjoyable work of children’s literature and the other is an incomprehensible 700 page book.  What I’d suggest is on June 16th rather than celebrate Bloomsday just read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

The Pickle Soda triplets have continued their weekly trips to the library.  They’ve become fans of Mo Willems, Dr. Seus, and of course Peggy Rathman.  This week we’ve returned to the joy of Sandra Boynton.  Blue Hat, Green Hat.  The elephant, bear and moose know how to get dressed but the turkey never really gets it.  In our house we always say, “What a turkey!” everytime the turkey messes up.

Elsie Sunshine (she has a chin, it’s just very small)

That turkey just can’t get dressed.  Everybody knows that you put the shirt on over your head and then fasten the buttons under your bum.  That way the shirt stays in place and helps keep your diaper secure.  What a turkey.

Mabel (she’s a tiger)

From what I understand shoes are meant to just be immediately kicked off your feet not put on your head.  What a turkey.

Honeybear (pronounced “Juniper”)

The turkey clearly isn’t the brightest animal out there but should we really find humor in the turkey’s foolishness.  Is it appropriate to laugh at someone for being unintelligent?  It’s like watching those American Idol try-outs just to laugh at the worst ones.  Of course we all enjoyed William Hung but should we have? Finally why do we have to consider the turkey to be foolish for not knowing how to put on pants.  Turkeys don’t wear pants.  I wear pants and have no idea how to put them on.  Should I be laughed at?  Honestly I don’t know because when that turkey dives into a pool full of water with all her clothes on it is hilarious and I can’t help but to laugh.  What a turkey.

The girls have still been reading and have quite defined tastes now.  Not just any book can satisfy them and their critiques can sometimes be harsh.  In an effort to spare the feelings of some authors the girls are going to just continue to recommend and review books they like.  One such book is Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems.  Basically Leonardo isn’t very good at scaring people due to his terribleness at being a monster.  As always each girl shares her thoughts below.


Elsie Sunshine

I like the monster with all the teeth.  I could use some of those.


I’m pretty sure I could do a better job of scaring than that monster can.  I’m a tiger.


In the end it’s our relationships in life that really determine if we’re happy or not.  Other monsters may have more teeth, be weirder or be just plain scarier but not every monster can claim a real friendship.  Leonardo discovered the truth that so many of us fail to see, sometimes our priorities are much less important than just befriending those around us.  Thank you Leonardo.  I applaud your actions.

Picklesoda’s triplets have been doing a lot of reading this last week or so.  They’ve been surprised by how long some of Dr. Seus’s books are.  Bartholomew and the Oobleck just never seems to stop (Honeybear fell asleep).  One book they were all pleased with this week was Duck on A Bike by David Shannon.  In the book a Duck decides to ride a bike and kind of shows off to other farm animals.  As always each girl shares her thoughts below.


Else (she has a shirt with a bike on it)

I enjoyed the duck on the bike but I’m ready for a hippo on a bike.  Now that would be really impressive.  Let’s get going on the sequel. A hippo riding a bike around the zoo.

Mabel (she quite skilled at making horse sounds)

Is saying “nay” and saying “neigh” the same thing?  I like to do the sound were a horse kind of blows out her cheeks and lips.  Its probably my favorite sound to make.

Honeybear (she’s also reading the Illiad)

First of all let me say that I appreciate the review of all the sounds that the farm animals make.  The duck rides past each different animal and they of course make their classic sound whether it be “meow” or “baa.”  I know that toddlers are frequently tested by adults in remembering what animal makes what sound so the review is appreciated.  Secondly I like the painting.  This guy really put some effort into painting this book and after slogging through so much of the non-illustrated Illiad it was a nice break.  Finally what’s the deal with cats?  Are cats really as terrible as they’re portrayed in literature?  Do these animals really care about nothing but themselves and their glory?  Sounds a lot like Achilles to me.


Once again Pickle Soda’s excellent triplets (born Christmas Eve 2012) have been reading and have selected another book to review.  After some debate the girls agreed on reviewing Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman (Honeybear wanted to review Gravity’s Rainbow but I didn’t think that was appropriate).  In the book Officer Buckle travels to local schools giving safety tips but nobody really listens to him until Gloria shows up.  As a team they make a real difference for safety until Officer Buckle learns Gloria’s secret (Gloria is a dog by the way).  The safety of students everywhere hangs in the balance.


Else’s Commentary

I like Officer Buckle’s mustache.  Also I have a safety tip, always latch up both sides of your diaper otherwise you’re gonna soil your pants.

Mabel’s Thoughts

I thought you weren’t supposed to give ice cream to dogs.  But if you are giving ice cream out to people that shouldn’t have it I’d be happy to take some.

Honeybear’s Insight (she’s actually in my arms right now)

Really this book is about the common human weakness of pride.  Officer Buckle’s pride is injured by Gloria and he has to learn to humble himself to not only save a friendship but to save a partnership that can do real, lasting good in this world.  All of us have to humble ourselves at some point but it can be difficult.  I like to think that all disagreements can be fixed just like Officer Buckle’s and Gloria’s.  Someone just has to take that first step.  Someone has to swallow his pride.

Pickle Soda Publishing recently added 3 baby girls (triplets) to the team. They were born on Christmas Eve and are already avid readers. They’ve each picked their current favorite book that isn’t put out by Pickle Soda.

Mabel’s favorite

DownloadedFileWill the hippopotamus ever catch a break? (Spoiler: She does)  Mabel likes it when the armadillo shows up.

Honeybear’s favorite

0763642975There’s three baby bears in this one and they are each the best bear in the whole world.  Honeybear (Juniper) likes the part where the three baby bears are laying on mama bear’s tummy.

Else’s favorite
haroldpurpleHarold happens to have a purple crayon that he can draw anything with.  He uses his powers for good.  He gives nine kinds of pie to a hungry moose and a deserving porcupine.  Else likes when he gets scared and accidently draws an ocean he falls into.

The girls plan to continue to pick favorite books.  This week they’ve been reading a lot of Dr. Seuss.

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