Friday, December 5, 2008

My Little Girl by Tim McGraw & Tom Douglas

My Little Girl by Tim McGraw & Tom Douglas
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1400313211

I was talking to one of my best friends tonight over a cup of coffee while our kids ran around sword fighting (pretend swords, obviously) and doing all the other crazy and wild stuff kids do when you're looking to just sit tight for a moment for a peaceful cup of joe and conversation with another person older than 5. I was telling her about this cute book I'd recently had the pleasure of reading and reviewing called My Little Girl by Tim McGraw & Tom Douglas. Almost as soon as the author's name had past my lips my friend was rolling her eyes.

"What?", I said. Now, I can't remember her exact words in response, but basically her reply had to do with her disgust with otherwise famous people (actors, singers, etc) trying to break in to the realm of kid's and adult literature. It's like it's not enough for them to be really good at the one thing they're already known for (acting, singing, etc). It's like they have to get their names out there just one more time- this time in the book arena. This is what my friend had to say. And, to be perfectly honest, I will say that I do, in a small way, have to agree with her just a little bit. Certainly that's not the case with every new/crossover author, though I'm sure there are plenty it applies to.

Admittedly the first time I read a children's book by one of Hollywood's already famous actors/actresses I was a little hesitant for this very reason. I by no means think anyone should be pigeon-holed to simply one genre or area of the arts/practice. I do, however, wonder about the driving force and motives behind some of these career expansions. Is the person looking to dabble in a new field because they really feel a calling and desire to share something with another younger generation? Do they really have a story, one worth sharing, to tell? Or is the new adventure into the world of literature and publishing merely another opportunity to go after the all mighty dollar?

So far, I have to say, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Hollywood actor/actress penned children's books I've had the opportunity to read. Both Jamie Lee Curtis and John Lithgow come to mind, and I know both have written more than one book my girls and I have enjoyed. I suppose it's safe to say that whatever the driving force was behind their decisions to write worked in the favor of everyone. They undoubtedly each made a mint off of their sales and the reading community around the world has been given some adorable children's books to enjoy on their behalf.

Still, I'd be lying if I said I didn't go in slightly skeptical to reading My Little Girl by Tim McGraw and Tom Douglas. I was in love with the cover illustration from the very minute I laid eyes on it online, but you can't always judge a book by its cover. Sometimes you have a cover that's totally awesome; however, when you get to the meat and potatos of the book you find there's not much there but grizzle and some left over three day old, store brand mashed. (hehe) Other times it's the opposite, while the cover leaves much to be desired it's what's inside on the pages that truly blows you away. And, yet again, there's a third option. Sometimes, a reader is lucky enough to happen upon a book that not only takes the cake in the world of cover design but that also rocks when it comes to the story itself.

I'm a little disappointed to say that, to me, My Little Girl didn't quite make it in to that last category, but rather was on the middle of the spectrum for the first category I mentioned. The illustrations by Julia Denos were fabulous. Like I said, I was in love with the book based on it's cover alone when I saw it online. There's something about the little girl that really reminds me of my own two daughters, and even though it's probably nothing more than the dark hair and whimsical attire it made me want to read this book. And the beauty and mesmerizing images didn't stop there. Each page was artfully crafted and stunning. Even though it appears, to my untrained eye (which means I could be totally off on this assumption) that the illustrator did her pictures in nothing more than basic sketches topped with carefully placed accents and color, they are down right incredible. The illustrations themselves catch your eye and leave you with a immense feeling of happiness down to your very core. That's pretty big considering.

The story itself seemed kind of weak to me and even a bit choppy at times. It would be unfair to say that the underlying premise of the story wasn't a good one, because it was. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of the story being about daddy's little girl getting all dolled up for her fancy day out with dad. She didn't know what they were doing or where they were going, but whatever and wherever she was going to be with her favorite man in all the world and she had to look her best for him. I loved how the author then showed Katie and her dad spending a completely unremarkable, in all outward appearances, day together. Then how, when all was said and done, it was better than anything Katie could have possibly hoped for.

Books that show little girls with their daddys really pull at my heart strings because not only do I have two adorable little girls who both have their daddy wrapped around their little fingers, but I was also a daddy's girl myself when I was growing up. My dad was killed when I was 14 (I'm 27 now.), and not a day goes by that I don't miss him. Reading a book like this brings back so many happy memories for me that I'm literally crying just typing this. (Oi!) So, as I was saying, any story that portrays a great father/daughter interaction like this one is going to automatically get my vote. It shows how a father should be and how wonderful even just the simplest things done together can impact a little girl and mean more to her than any expensive outlandish outting or treat ever could. I think in today's society this is a major issue because so many people think it's not about the time spent together but about how much money is spent and how big the opportunity itself is. That's not it at all though. It's about the quality time spent together, and for that reason alone this book was a hit for me. It brings to the table a beautiful precedent of what a father/daughter relationship can and should be like.

Yet, as I mentioned earlier, as much as I enjoyed the basic premise for the story and the illustrations that went along with it, I'd be lying if I said this book deserved a 5 heart rating. While it was beautiful and the concept was excellent, the actual follow through came up short for me. I believe it was McGraw's intention to have the story flow from activity to activity with as much delicate flow as possible, but something seemed to be off. In a few places it was like the thoughts were there but they were missing the necessary cohesive links to join them together without leaving a disjointed , choppy feel. For example, in one section Katie and her dad are spelling messages to one another with the alphabets in their soup. Then the very next thing Katie's telling her dad to push her higher on the swing. The last couple of sections had the same slightly disjointed feel to me. Perhaps I'm just being overly critical and there's really nothing missing at all but a decent, more objective reader. Cause, again, over all, I really did enjoy the book, and I think my daughter (5) did to.

My Little Girl was a fun look at a daughter's day out with her dad, and it truly was sweet story. I wish the flow felt a little more strong to me, but at the end of the day I still think I'd recommend this book.

Many thanks to Jackie at Thomas Nelson for giving me the opportunity to review this one.

OUR RATING: 4 hearts

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