Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Good Do We Have to Be?

Written by: Harold S. Kushner

First lines: I have been thinking about the ideas expressed in this book for a long time. Even as a child, I was bothered by the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. A God who punished people so severely for breaking one arbitrary rule was not a God I wanted to believe in, especially since the story seemed to suggest that Adam and Eve had no knowledge of what good and bad meant before they broke the rule.

Why you should read this book: Drawing on biblical stories, classic literature, personal anecdotes, and other sources, the acclaimed rabbi confronts the persistent Judeo-Christian belief that human beings ought to shoulder the massive burdens of shame and guilt for the crime of being imperfect. Reframing the events in the Garden of Eden allows him to cast the divine creator as a loving and accepting being who wants humanity to rise to a level of consciousness beyond that of mere animals, and the taint of original sin as no more than the human belief that there is not enough love to go around. Instead of wallowing in shame and condemnation, he argues, we must accept that we, and those around us, can never be perfect, and should not be expected to live up to an unattainable standard, but rather can only do our best, with the understanding that we only have to be as good as we can be.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Religious guilt got you where you are today.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Treasure Bath

Created by: Dan Andreasen

Why you should check out this book: It's a wordless journey for young readers that begins with an eager preschooler helping his mother bake a cake, which results in his chocolate-covered self being deposited, against his will, into a warm, bubbly bath, where he takes an underwater journey, culminating in an eventual and unexpected scrubbing by a variety of helpful sea creature. At the end of the story, despite his reluctance, the boy is clean, clad in pajamas with his hair combed, and, of course, there is cake. A perfect story for dirty boys and for pre-readers eager to enjoy books on their own.

Why you shouldn't check out this book: You know how to read and you enjoy bathing yourself.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Winne the Pooh

Written by: A.A. Milne

First line: Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.

Why you should read this book: These are the original adventures of everyone's favorite bear of Very Little Brain but Very Large Heart with a Very Great Love of Hunny, along with his friends Christopher Robin, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo, Eeyore, Rabbit, and all of Rabbit's Friends and Relations. Included here are Pooh's early adventures as a raincloud, his unfortunate sojourn in Rabbit's doorway, his discoveries of Eeyore's tail, the fearsome Heffalump, and the elusive North Pole, and his Daring and Praiseworthy Rescue of Piglet. Gentle, humorous, and loving stories appropriate for people of all ages, which have stood the test of time, despite the creative meddling of certain massive multinational conglomerates intent on Commodifying Culture for the purpose of Printing Licensed Characters on Cheap Merchandise for Profit.

Why you shouldn't read this book: If you're looking for Tigger, you won't find him here. This is not that kind of story.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oh, What a Busy Day!

Written by: Gyo Fujikawa

First line: Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

Why you should read this book: This high interest book for small children follows a group of multicultural kids through a busy day and a busy year, illustrating hundreds of ways for kids to play, eat, make friends, learn manners, and entertain themselves in every weather condition. Mixed in with the descriptions are bits of poetry, classic nursery rhymes, other tidbits of enduring oral tradition, a normalization of communal togetherness that transcends race, a combination of the fantastic and the mundane that forms the child's inner world, and a palpable joie de vivre that seems absent from kids who spend all their free time in the company of video technologies. Just a really great long-standing work for young people.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You already know what you are going to be when you grow up.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Wind in the Willows

Written by: Kenneth Grahame

First line: The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring cleaning his little home.

Why you should read this book: Wisely deciding that spring cleaning is lame, the friendly and loyal Mole runs away from domestic responsibility and falls into company with the brave and gregarious Water Rat, who teaches him how to row a boat, pack a picnic basket, and plan a siege. Together, the two animals entertain themselves on the riverbank, along with the friendly Otter, the intelligent Badger, and the wholly irresponsible, shamefully boastful, criminally reckless, stupidly wealthy, and all around party guy, Mr. Toad. Whether they're getting lost in the Wild Wood, rescuing a baby otter with wanderlust, or defending their friend's home from stoats and weasels, these delightful characters continue to weave their spell of enchantment across the gulf of a century.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You are currently in jail on a hit and run charge.