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book review

This Is Sadie

Written by Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad, Tundra, 32 pages, $19.99

It used to be that a box of Lego was simply a collection of blocks. Now, the toy features obscure 1970s-era Star Wars characters and Marvel superheroes. What happened to make-believe? This is why a picture book such as This is Sadie isn't just beautiful, but essential. Sadie is a girl who plays with mermaids, snails and all the other crazy things she thinks up. Now, I can't tell my children that imagination is their greatest toy. It would sound hokey coming from me. Which is why I'd like to sincerely thank Sara O'Leary and Julie Morstad. Not only have they said it for me, they've done it so well that both Phoenix and Frida heard it.

And What If I Won't?

Written by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Qin Leng, Owlkids, 32 pages, $17.95

Where does parental authority come from? That's the issue at the heart of And What if I Won't?. As Benny questions why he has to do what his mother says, the consequences of potential bad behaviour escalate from a time out to being sent to the zoo and finally the moon. This is the kind of absurdist exaggeration that all three of us can get behind. The book also illustrates how "Because I said so," really means "Because I love you." Because child-rearing is like lion taming: you never want them to see your fear.

Frankenstink! Garbage Gone Bad

By Ron Lightburn, Tundra, 32 pages, $19.99

Books with practical advice, such as the importance of cleaning your room, normally don't go over very well in our house. Frankenstink!, by Ron Lightburn, seems to be the exception. An evil monster forms from the detritus of a messy bedroom, then goes on a rampage. The story is pure fun and works mainly because of Lightburn's deft employment of utter sneakiness – he wraps his moral with several thick layers of silliness. While this didn't stop Phoenix or Frida from seeing that the moral existed, it did make the book fun enough to love!

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