Tag Archives: cartoons

Children’s Book: Princess Annalise and The Fat Dragon – (2/5)

As usual I didn’t pay for this book but instead received it free in exchange for a review, this time from LibraryThing. Also as usual I leave my scrupulously honest opinions below.

So, I’ll take a chance and just go all-out spoilers on this one because if you’re reading this review you’re probably not in a whole lot of suspense anyway. Long story short, princess finds a dragon who’s fat and can’t breath fire so he’s an outcast. So the nice princess puts the dragon on a work-out routine to shed all that unwanted “blubber” and get into shape so that the other dragons will like him.

I really appreciate what the author is trying to get at here, but the moral of this story really comes across to me as: “Change who you are so that people will like you.” That is really not the message that you want to send to children who might be a bit on the heavy side (or any other side for that matter). Beyond that, the text is rather disjointed and the art work is OK but suffers from poor layout on the Kindle.

In summary, I’m not letting any child of mine read this. Yikes.

— UPDATE —

I received a request from the author via email:

Thanks for reviewing my book: Princess Annalise and The Fat Dragon. I am sorry if you are thinking the moral of the story is: “Change who you are so that people will like you.” When I wrote the book I never thought comparing the fat dragon with the fat kid. I just thought the fat dragon getting skinny is funny but I never ever thought about comparing to a fat kid. So I really appreciate if you would like to change your review about my book.

My response:

Hi Olivia,

Firstly, I understand your concern and I don’t think that it was your intent to compare the fat dragon with fat children. The problem is that it’s not really about your intent in this case so much as the message that other people will receive when reading your book. Kids at a young age don’t make that distinction between talking animals or dragons and themselves.

If you show this book to a child with a weight problem, they’re probably going to feel bad and think that in order to be liked by anyone else, they too have to lose the “blubber” as you put it in the book. Similarly, if you show it to a child without a weight problem, they’re going to see every overweight person as someone who needs to lose weight. I’m not debating obesity but I would not want such a message put in front of my child because it’s OK for people to be who they are and they don’t need to change themselves so they will be liked.

Other reviewers may disagree and I welcome the discussion but I’m not going to change my review because of what you intended to write. I can’t review your book based on your intent. I have to review it based on the words on the page and how I think they may strike a reader. In this case, I don’t think this is a positive message so I cannot give it a positive review as a book to be read to young children.

I’m sure that must be a disappointment but I have to be honest with the people who shop on Amazon and give my honest opinion.


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Big Fat Beautiful Head – Funny and full of insight but surprisingly short (4/5)

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As usual I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review; this time from NetGalley. Also as usual I give my scrupulously honest opinion below.

This book is in a fairly unique position in that it’s a book of cartoons but also a book about cartoons. It contains 50 of the author’s choicest offerings and each comes accompanied by a 100-word blurb about the cartoon which usually describes the situation portrayed in more detail or the background of what made the author pen this particular work in the first place.

On the positive side, I’m a tough sell when it comes to humor and many of these caused me to actually laugh. I’m amused by much but don’t typically let it out. Heinecke is a surprisingly funny guy even by my standards for the term. The book is also unique in that it does what I always want books about comics to do which is to describe in more detail the background of what’s being drawn. The comic form is so terse by its nature that often I think we all want a few more words than the 10 we typically get and this book gives us that missing detail.

To the negative, this is really short. As I said above it’s 50 comics and at its current Amazon selling price that’s 20 cents per comic. it would be more cost effective to actually subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and just read the comics (which I’m sure happens more than people will admit). The inherent terseness of the comic writer is still evident in the short, large-font blurbs as well. There’s more description but there’s still not everything you would hope for.

In summary, this is a nice offering from a funny author but it’s probably one to pick up on the clearance rack. Its all of a 20-minute read and you should determine the price you would pay based on that.


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The Lego Movie – One of those rare movies that’s equally entertaining to kids and adults (5/5)

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We saw this movie because my 8-year-old said, “Daddy, can we go see The Lego Movie?!” so away we went.

So to the question of entertainment value, as I said in the subject line, the adults and kids both seemed highly entertained. We were in a full theatre and one gentleman in particular seemed to be outrageously entertained with his incontinent guffawing. The kids were, of course, entertained enough and the movie had humor working on all levels from the youngest kids to the adults, though nothing REALLY adult, if you get my drift.

As to production quality of the movie, I was extremely impressed with the level of visual detail. I had assumed that since the Lego world is, of necessity, rather low resolution, that the movie might be clunky but they didn’t shy away from high-definition situations. Seeing Legos animated into an undulating ocean, explosions, fire or billowing smoke and dust was particularly surprising. In a similar vein, if you go see this movie be sure you keep an eye on the stuff going on in the background. I noted several scenes in which what was going on behind the focal point of the camera was at least as entertaining as what was going on in front.

Lastly, on the topic of actually learning something, this movie was surprisingly deep. On the surface there was a profound lesson on the value of individuality vs working as a team. Often in children’s movies the themes crow constantly about being your own person and doing your own thing but this one has a strong streak teaching the value of working together and accomplishing more than any set of individuals working separately could. Later in the film, parents get a strong admonition about letting kids be kids and practice their individual creativity rather than trying to get kids to fit into strict parental expectations. All in all lot to learn here.

In summary, Izzy said, “Best movie Ever!” but then she always says that. On my part I wouldn’t say best movie ever but it had a lot to say, was technically well executed and featured lots of famous voices that parents will recognize. I’m not sure what more you could want than that.


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Filed under animated, movies