Quick Kids Reviews #4

Title: Mr. Pack Rat Really Wants That
Author: Marcus Ewert
Illustrator: Kayla Stark
Source: Free ARC from Plum Blossom

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Plum Blossom via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

Mr. Pack Rat is building his first home and as he heads outside, he sees things that make him happy and wants them in his home. Luckily, his family has a magic magnet that brings him whatever he wishes for, and every time he heads out into the world, he brings home more and more things that he thinks will make him happy. But. The more he asks for, the more congested his home gets, making him less and less happy. After a very close call, Mr. Pack Rat realizes that all of the things he brought home actually made him happier where they originally were, and he returns them.

Mr. Pack Rat Really Wants Thatis a parable for children that illustrates how owning things doesn’t lead to true happiness. The illustrations were phenomenal, definitely the high point of the book for me. And I do believe that lesson is one worth sharing with small children. However, though I can’t put my finger on the exact reason why, the story didn’t wow me. But I could look at the illustrations all day.

Title: I Spy the 50 States
Author: Sharyn Rosart
Illustrator: Sol Litharo
Source: Free ARC from Wide Eyed Editions

Rating: ⭐⭐ 1/2

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Wide Eyed Editions via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

I Spy the 50 Statesis a children’s picture book with a smallI Spy element (three items are listed, all starting with the same letter). Each state is represented in colorful pictures, over a two-page spread. In the top left-hand corner of every state spread is an illustration that says the state name and its nickname (i.e. California, The Golden State). Within the spread are pictures that represent something unique about the state, such as a famous landmark, the state capitol, native plants or wildlife, etc.

My interest is in this book comes from my love for travel. Wanderlust has taken me many different places over the years, and I hope to pass on the love for exploration onto my children. And what better way to get them excited about new places than through colorful pictures, right?

The illustrations were colorful and wonderfully drawn. The pictures of people were diverse. Throughout the book, famous stops along the underground railroad are included, as well as native American landmarks, and various museums where people can explore our history, good and bad. And I love that. However, there was at least one depiction of what appeared to be a slave woman happilyholding her harvest. I say “appeared” because this is my interpretation of the picture, but I doubt that I’m the only person who would see it as such, and I find it bothersome. So, maybe I’m the PC police, but I think the image should have been left out since there is no verbiage to define what is intended.

Obviously, this is a children’s book, but it is clearly geared for younger children. Certainly it is way too young for my kiddos, though they might enjoy the pictures. However, I do think children on the older end of the intended age range would have questions (curious little minds!) about what that bird is, etc. and as the images are specific to each state, I doubt most parents would have answers to all those questions.

Finally, the publisher’s summary claims that the images are meant to represent unique features of each state, but if every state has similar pictures, it’s hardly unique is it? And why is the Statue of Liberty on New Jersey’s page? Ellis Island is shared jurisdiction between New York and New Jersey, Liberty Island is not. As this is a nonfiction children’s book, I think it’s important that the facts be accurate.

In a nutshell, I know it’s a children’s book and it probably appears I’m being an overly picky curmudgeon. The pictures are bright and colorful, I greatly appreciate the inclusivity, but I think the topic requires more than pictures, and this would have been better done as a series with a book per state and geared towards slightly older children.

I like the idea, but feel the execution falls short. It’s a pass for me.

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