I've got two books I'd like to review, one having absolutely nothing to do with the other. They just ended up being in our house at the same time, and one of them gets read OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Thank goodness Al and I like it! We got it at the library, so eventually they'll ask us to return it (phew!)
It's The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires. It follows the traditional gingerbread man storyline, except this guy is a cowboy and lives in Texas. As the Gingerbread Cowboy runs away from the rancher and his wife, we are introduced to a fine selection of western critters all hungry to eat the little guy -- a roadrunner, javelinas munching on cactus pads, long-horned cattle and actual cowboys shouting "Stampede!" It is the crafty coyote who finally lures the over-confident Gingerbread Cowboy to his delectable, digestive death.
Our boys LOVE this story. H. has heard the original story before, but likes this one better. The illustrations are vibrant and warmly colored, just like the desert landscape in which it takes place, and the tone is light and funny. We're going to make our own Gingerbread Cowboys on Saturday, when we're all done with our coughing illnesses (cross fingers!).
The second book is We Belong Together by Todd Parr. I received a gift certificate and purchased this one without checking it out first, which I regret now. I was disappointed because I really liked It's Ok To Be Different, as did the boys. This one is about adoption specifically, and for me, contains too many subliminal saviour messages. It's framed with "We belong together because you needed _____" and I(we) did so-and-so to provide it." The author does mention at the beginning that readers can feel free to change the pronouns as appropriate to fit one's family, but it still reads too much like the child has all of the needs to be filled, and the parents come to save the day.
I guess I would have liked it if some of the scenarios included things the A-parents needed, and the child fulfilled. And in our case, some of the examples felt uncomfortable. For example, "...you needed someone to say "I love you," and we had love to give."
If one is in an open adoption where all family members love the child, that line falls flat. I know that H and L's family love them. They told us, they showed us. And you can tell because our guys are so incredibly loving themselves. You learn love by being given love. I balked at that page especially.
I don't mean to trash it, and I'm sure there are wonderful messages for the right readers, but I would have liked a more balanced book in terms of the giving and receiving. Al and I are discovering in delightful bite-sized pieces how much the boys have given us. Even when I'm lying on the rug, semi-conscious, saying for the 37th time to Lire, "yes, sweetie, that is SOME cardboard box you've got there!," I realize that they are giving me patience disguised as exhaustion. Lately Habtam has been complimenting me a lot -- "Mommy? I like your shiny eyes," or "Habtamu like Mommy's clothes," when I'm wearing longjohns and a poly-pro thermal top (hey, give me a break, I'm sick!). They are sweet, sweet little men.
Anyway, give both books a look, if you've got the time. I'm going to return the latter book for something else -- any recommendations?