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Ride a Pale Horse
Helen MacInnes
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Laura Joh Rowland
Oh No! Not Again!: (Or How I Built a Time Machine to Save History) (Or at Least My History Grade) - Mac Barnett, Dan Santat Well... I checked this book out for my niece, but I did so without reading it first. She loved Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World, so I checked out this book based on the high "like" factor of the previous book. I kind of wish I had looked this one over first.

It's not a bad book. The art is fun (I guess), but at the same time, the pictures are inconsistent. Sometimes they are vivid, and eye-popping, and other times they're muddy, washed out, or almost blurry. They don't hold the eye nearly as well as the pictures in the previous Oh No book did, and they didn't make us really want to spend time examining them.

The story in this book also has a much more limited appeal, I think. The plot of the first Oh No book is easy to understand--a rampaging robot is destroying the town. My nephew is four, and he was able to follow that storyline very well, so he got a lot of enjoyment out of that book. In this Oh No book, however, kids really need to have had some significant exposure to world history in order to fully understand the mayhem in this book. My nephew would never "get" this book, and alas, my eight year old niece hasn't yet had broad exposure to history, so I really think that this tale was beyond her comprehension, too. In the end, this book flew over the heads of the kids I was reading it to.

While this book might appeal to some children, it wasn't a great book for us. More history lessons are needed on our part, but better illustrations and a more interesting plot were needed on the book's part.

UPDATE: Before I returned this book to the library today, I tried a different strategy. I handed the book to my nephew, and let him and my niece process the book on their own. My nephew was dying with laughter at the pictures of the cavemen, and my niece did, in fact, know who some of the historical figures presented were. They told this story between themselves, and got so much more enjoyment out of it that way. So, shows what I know. Maybe the fault wasn't with the story, but with the person reading it (ahem!).

The kids did spend a good deal of time looking at the vividly colored pictures that I referred to above, but my nephew barely even glanced at the muddier pictures. I was comforted by this, because it told me that while I was mistaken about the children's perceptions of this story, I was not mistaken about the inconsistency of the pictures. Thank goodness I didn't get it all wrong!