Friday, August 20, 2010

The Little Blue Doggy & Swing Cafe Book Reviews

I was recently contacted by the wonderful publishing folks at The Secret Mountain and asked if I would be interested in reviewing two children's books, of course I had to say yes seeing that we're a family who absolutely adores books.

With narration by Grammy-nominated and world-renowned Brazilian artist Bebel Gilberto. The narration is interspersed with classic recordings from jazz and swing legends including Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Lionel Hampton and more. Swing Café is written by Carl Norac, award-winning author of more than 40 children’s books, including the Publisher’s Weekly bestseller, I Love You So Much.

In September Secret Mountain will release Swing Café, originally produced by French Publishing House Didier Jeunesse. Stringer had the original text translated by Montrealer Jacob Homel, then created an English version with author Carl Norac, illustrator Rebecca Dautremer, and narrators David Frances and Brazillian-American world music artist Bebel Gilberto, a longtime resident of New York.
Swing Café tells the story of Zaz, a wee Brazilian cricket that dreams of singing live in the big apple. After hopping a ride to Manhattan, Zaz eventually makes her way to the Swing Café, where she takes to the stage thereby fulfilling her dream.

I honestly didn't know what to think of the book at first, I wasn't sure that my kids would enjoy it, but I was glad that I set those thoughts aside and took a chance on it. We all enjoyed the book and the Storybook and Music CD, one of the things that I really enjoyed personally, was the Brazilian music, being that I'm portuguese, well you know.....connect the dots LOL


In the title song and story of this musical collection, a stuffed, woolen puppy falls victim to famished mites after having been left at home alone while his parents go to see an exhibit of humans at a local park. Upon their return, they discover his red, soggy, cotton tail on the floor and are faced with the challenge of putting him back together. Lionel Daunais’s lighthearted rendition of this song was a popular radio favorite in French-speaking Canada in the 1950s. The additional 12 songs in this storybook-music CD are off-the-wall fun for the whole family, full of clever word play and many strange creatures, including a bird who is part kangaroo and part rooster, a tortoise named Sue who goes around town without a shell, and a hard-headed hammer who has gone bonkers.

I have to be honest, when I first saw the book I thought, this is adorable, and I flipped to the first page. Nicholas sat at my side and he had a huge smile on his face, I mean, this was such an adorable little knitted blue doggy with a tail made out of red rags.

Seems great at first, but as the book progresses, the little blue doggy gets locked in a broom closet while his parents go off to the park to watch Humans on display. That wasn't so bad, I mean I can understand, it's reversed, like when we go to the zoo.

But the poor little doggy ends up being eaten by mites in the closet and at this point Nicholas had this disgusted and shocked look on his face. I admit that I thought "eewwww".....but it only lasted about 2 seconds because then we started laughing as the doggies mom begins to knit him again.

We did enjoy the CD which comes with thirteen songs and I think that was what he enjoyed the most, funny, silly little songs that will have the kids clapping along.

All in all it turned out to be quite a cute book and Nicholas favorite line was “And so they snuffed his lovely tufts, they feasted down on every crumb. They shaved his head, ate all the thread, and, lastly, they nibbled his bum.” He got a good chuckle out of that one.

The wonderful folks at The Secret Mountain were kind enough to provide me with a free review copy of books as well as press releases and other information, but all opinions and thoughts are 100% mine.

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