Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Round of 32 Day 2 (Tournament of Children's Books)

Welcome back to the Tournament of Children’s Books! Yesterday we had some blow outs, some upsets, and some hard fought victories. Here's how the field looks after Day 1:

Click here for a zoomable version..

Let’s see what happens when the Dr. Seuss and Good Night regions kickoff!

Dr. Seuss Region

(1) The Going-to-bed Book defeats (8) ABC What Will I Be
ABC What Will I Be is a great book. For each letter of the alphabet there’s a cute illustration of a kid in an occupation (A is for Architect, B is for Ballerina, etc.), with each illustration hidden under a flap that James can lift up. This interaction is lots of fun for him and I enjoy the fact that traditionally male occupations like engineer are occupied by girls which will hopefully provide some inspiration for my five month old daughter someday. I only wish P would have been for Psychologist instead of Pastry Chef. Unfortunately, it’s just not enough to overcome the super catchy Going-to-bed book which I had memorized after the 2nd read through.

(4) We’re Going on a Bear Hunt defeats (5) Goodnight New York City
Tough tough draw here for Goodnight New York City, one of the two Goodnight World books (and the best) in the field. One of the great things about Goodnight New York City is it’s fun for both Daddy and James. There’s all sorts of cool things to point out (the horse in Central Park, the lions in front of the library) and it has wry nods that go right over James’ head such as when a previous illustration of a hot dog vendor is shown hanging in the art museum next to Van Gogh’s A Starry Night on a later page. But Goodnight New York City just doesn’t have the game to hang with We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. The fun of singing “Rock of Ages” on the Broadway show page just can’t beat the fun of going swishy swashy, squelch squerch, splash splosh, stumble trip, and hoo woo on our bear hunt.

(3) Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You defeats (6) Baby Woof Woof
Baby Woof Woof is cute and all with its animal noises and baby animals. But there’s just no way that style of play can compete with “BOOM BOOM BOOM Mr. Brown is a wonder. BOOM BOOM BOOM Mr. Brown makes thunder”. James loves the part when he gets to knock on the door and when he gets to make owl noises. Throw in the fact that Daddy always stumbles over the phrase “Friendly Foal” in Baby Woof Woof and this is a blowout.

(2) Brown Bear Brown Bear defeats (7) Good Night Little Star
As will become apparent in the later rounds of this tournament, James loves bears which you would think gives the edge to Brown Bear here. But Good Night Little Star features a Baby Bear and a Big Bear on every page. Even better, the parent bear is never identified as Mama Bear or Papa Bear so when I read it he’s always Daddy Bear. I really enjoy Good Night Little Star for that reason and because it features Daddy Bear and Baby Bear sitting in a hammock reading a book. We have a hammock and though James was too impatient this past summer to enjoy reading in it I have high hopes for this summer. Unfortunately it’s just not enough to get past Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s classic that seamlessly teaches colors, animals, and animal sounds in a way that entertains both James and Daddy. Carle is 3-0 in the tournament so far! As Mark Hamil once said, “Don’t f*** with the Jedi Master son”Yup. I just linked a video that drops an f-bomb in a post about children's books. This is why my wife is always yelling "WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE IN FRONT OF THE KIDS" at me.

Good Night Region

(8) A Cuddle for Little Duck defeats (1) Where’s Baby’s Belly Button
I have no idea why Where’s Baby’s Belly Button is such a big seller. James absolutely loves belly buttons. When he was younger he’d reach out and poke my belly button, I’d make the Pillsbury Doughboy noise, and he’d crack up. And he loves it when you try and get his belly button. But his reaction to this book is usually a big fat meh. Why? Well there’s only one belly button! But if you want to find a baby’s feet hiding behind a cat or baby’s hands hiding behind some bubbles then have at it! Many lift the flap children’s books lack an entertaining story but this one is especially egregious. A Cuddle for Little Duck on the other hand tells a great story of Little Duck’s adventures throughout the day, featuring all sorts of animals and bugs to point out and what has to be a Shake Your Tail Feather reference. A Cuddle for Little Duck pulls off the shocking upset and moves on.

(4) Shark vs. Train defeats (5) Goodnight Washington DC
The Goodnight World series heads home 0-2 after Goodnight Washington DC runs into the buzzsaw that is Shark vs. Train. Goodnight Washington DC is shorter than its New York counterpart but does have some pretty awesome pages. The first two pages are a zoo scene with about 20 different animals to point out including bears and monkeys. The Museum of Natural History spread has dinosaurs and more bears while the National Air Space Museum page has rockets and astronauts. But James can tell you what sounds the following things/animals make: Owls, Bears, Vacuum Cleaners, Pigs, Tractors, Cars, Sharks,In case you were wondering a shark makes a sound like “Doo Doo. Doo Doo. Doo doo doo doo doo”. Still confused? Think the music from Jaws. Toddlers believe anything you tell them. and Trains. A book that features two of these things in the title? And they go mano a mano in activities ranging from high diving to basketballJames also yells like Tarzan whenever he sees basketball because Daddy has taught him how to yell when you hang on the rim after you dunk on fools. It's important to teach kids the fundamentals. to ping pong? Yup that’s a Sweet 16 book right there.

(6) B is for Bear defeats (3) On the Day You Were Born
Imagine that a bunch of new age hippies got together and decided to write a children’s book explaining photosynthesis, tidal forces, the atmosphere’s role in the existence of life, and gravity to a toddler while also suggesting that the toddler's birth was so important that news of it passed from animal to animal across the world. This book just drips with pretentiousness. B is for Bear on the other hand teaches the alphabet using a fun rhyming scheme and has tons of awesome textures to play with. With On the Day You Were Born James’ eyes glaze over by page 2. In fact the only way On the Day You Were Born is interesting is if I change the words to “On the day you were born, dun dun dun dun dun the nurses all gathered round dun dun dun dun dun and gazed in wide wonder dun dun dun dun dun at the joy they had found.”Bad to the Bone better be stuck in your head now. With B is for Bear James loves playing with the kitten’s yarn, pointing out his mouth and nose, hooting and oinking with the owl and pig, shushing when the quiet puppy appears, getting super excited on the Y is for You Go On Take a Look page, and smashing his face into the mirror.

(2) Goodnight Moon defeats (7) 10 Tiny Puppies
10 Tiny Puppies had a good strategy here. The “The only thing cuter than a tiny puppy is MORE tiny puppies” strategy has made millions102 Dalmatians made $183 million. I can just imagine the Disney meeting: “What’s cuter than 101 Dalmatians? I know! 102 Dalmatians!”.. James loves the two page spread with the tiny puppies playing with a baseball and a glove amidst a plethora of bugs that he can point out. And the line “8 tiny puppies know to go on the funnies” still amuses me after reading this book for over a year and a half. Unfortunately, 10 Tiny Puppies got matched up with possibly the toughest 2 seed in the tournament, Goodnight Moon, one of the all time best children’s books and a favorite of both James and Daddy. 10 Tiny Puppies is cute but cute only gets you so far.

That takes us to the end of the first round. Things heat up tomorrow in the Sweet 16!

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