Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Sun: Our Nearest Star

Franklyn M. Branley ~ Don Madden ~ Thomas Y. Crowell, 1988

Wanted to drop in today to talk about Don Madden. Whenever I stumble across one of his books in this house, it's almost as if I have never seen it before. Each one is so vibrant and alive with color, each read is like seeing it for the first time. His books never fail to excite me, and more and more I am thinking he might be one of my fave 70s/80s illustrators. I can't find much on him except this from here. "Born October 24, 1927 in Cleveland, Ohio and educated at The Philadelphia Museum School, now the Philadelphia College of Art, Madden illustrated magazines, advertising, cartoons as well as children’s books."



And scans of his work for Playboy pop up here and there, but sadly keep getting blocked by my childproof fire wall... click here and hopefully you won't be so unlucky.

This site touts a OMG-how-awesome-would-this-be-if-it-is-still-moving-forward movie version of The Wartville Wizard (Don's most famous book) which, according to them, was the first children's book printing entirely in full color when it was released in 1986.



He's definitely a guy I'd like to track down and interview if he's still with us, but until that day, I'll share this little ditty from the gotta-love-um This Is a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book series.



At night you can see a lot of stars because the sky is dark. You can also see a star in daytime, when the sky is bright. It is the sun. The sun is our daytime star. It is also the star nearest to us.



Yes. The star nearest to us, even though it is 93,000,000 miles away. Yet is it so hot and bright that it is the thing that makes life on earth possible. Sun helps plants and animals grow, and so on and so forth. The point of this book isn't really the few facts it is teaching a kid about our solar friend, but the fabulous illustrations that bring those facts to life.



I have a very secret dream of having a house wallpapered in giant-sized Don Madden illustrations, but until then, I have his books full of technicolor beauty to remind me every now and again of the amazing awesomeness of pen and ink.



Also by:
Is There Life in Outer Space?
The Daddy Book
Oxygen Keeps You Alive
The Wartville Wizard

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Homer Henry Hudson's Curio Museum


Homer Henry Hudson's Curio Museum
Zack Rock ~ Creative Editions, 2014

I know this is a "new" book (so new you can't even get it until next month), but hear me out first... 

I can't remember what post Zack Rock first commented on on this blog, but that's how I met him. One click on his website and one look at his illustrations and it was instant love. Perhaps it was the fact that he drew amazing birds. (You long time readers know that is one of my son's favorite things!) Perhaps it was the sheer amount of magical realism and fabulous detail in his work. Maybe it was the intellectual whimsy and humor he displays in each and every one of his drawings. Who knows... but whatever it was, it kept me coming back again and again to peruse his watercolors and follow the funny cat stories on his blog. I got him to paint a picture of my son astride a peregrine falcon, and eventually asked him to paint the banner you see up top. 

Zack's a huge talent, a perfect gentleman, and a true artist. 



I was lucky enough recently to snag a preview copy of his very first book (out in August), Homer Henry Hudson's Curio Museum...a book Kirkus calls "masterfully illustrated... infused with touches of humble elegance"

I happily second that emotion. 

ZACK ROCK. It isn't hard to remember, and it's a name that won't easily be forgotten. Expect great things from this guy. And now, without further blah blah...

"Everything has a story. Take the Homer Henry Hudson Curio Museum. Looks like an old schoolhouse. And it did, once, serve the children of Bolshoi, four towns over. The Columbus Day Twisters of '67 sprang the schoolhouse skyward, where it leaped and pirouetted like a ballerina before landing here, upright, its dignified demeanor intact. The museum houses -- to quote one recklessly alliterative reviewer -- 'a colossal collection of curios, discovered, described, and displayed by that eccentric explorer extraordinaire: Homer Henry Hudson'."



Part Indiana Jones... part The Tyger Voyage, the story follows an exploring (though semi-retired) bulldog and his collection of all things curious, gathered from all the most exotic locations in the most remote and mysterious corners of the world.



























"Every thing has a story: the dullest clam may hold the brightest pearl."

Highlighting some of his favorites from the collection... a radial tide diviner acquired from the Ionian Sea... a Temple Montepaz choir finch from the Andes Mountain Range... each with a personal note highlighting details from the acquisition. 



























"The Manneken Mort of King Ingmar: Figure composed of hundreds of thin fabric threads. When a Nottlander passes away, their friends and family gather to tell stories about them. For each story, a bright new band is woven into the figure."

It is through these remembrances that the bulldog convinces himself that it is time again to hit the road to find out.... that he still has more stories in him. Goodness. Each picture has a ton of hidden treasures. 

(Can you spy the prize from my favorite children's treasure book Masquerade... see it? The rabbit on the wall behind the couple?!) 

And each glimpse of the bulldog's expressive eyes (one blue and one brown) has you wishing you could hop on that steam cruiser and set sail for adventure with this daredevil doggie.

This is THE book I will be giving for the holidays. Not to be missed! Stay tuned in the coming days for a Q&A with Zack and a giveaway! 

I am giving Henry Homer the ultimate endorsement of........... 100,000,000,000,000,000 thumbs, five pinkies, two index fingers, and a pointer finger way way UP!

Congrats Zack! I sincerely can't wait to see what's next. Your momma must be so proud!
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

RIP Madeleine Gekiere

The beautiful artist Madeleine Gekiere took her own life today. I'm not sure of all the details but it seems she was ailing and thought it was time to go. As you hardcore readers know, I was lucky enough to interview her in 2012 about her illustration work in children's books, especially the first edition of Ray Bradbury's Switch On the Night. What an incredible spirit and artist. 

Godspeed dear woman.

My original interview with her is here

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Crash! Bang! Boom!


Crash Bang Boom
Peter Spier ~ Doubleday and Co., 1972

It's been a great spring break here in Texas. A visit with my sister. The premiere of the incredible Cosmos series. (If you aren't watching this with your kids, they are really missing out.) Beautiful weather... even though every time it seems like spring is here, old mother climate change has other plans. On this bright and beautiful nearly spring day, I just thought I'd peek in and share with you another gem by one of my all time faves, Peter Spier.

Similar in theme to Goggle Growl Grunt!, Crash! Bang! Boom! is a visual extravaganza of sound. BLUBBA-BLUBBA-BLUB... the sound a glass of liquid makes when a child blows into it through a straw. The RAT TAT TAT TAT TAT of a stick taping along a picket fence. The WHOOOOOOOOO of a tornado.

Or more dated sounds like the CRRRUNCH of an ice tray makes. The SCREEEEEETCH chalk makes on a black board. The hacking cough made my Daddy (UGH-UGH-UGH) when he smokes that awful pipe. The fake death by popgun, OH! AH! The FUDDA-FUDDA-FUDDA-FUDDA of a classroom reel-to-reel. It's a time machine of a good time, all illustrated with Spier's delectably detailed drawings. Never gets old...



Also by:
The Fox Went Out On a Chilly Evening
The Star-Spangled Banner
Noah's Ark
Peter Spier's Christmas
Gobble Growl Grunt
Rain
Bored -- Nothing To Do!
Peter Spier's Little Bible Storybooks
Oh, Were They Ever Happy!

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Alice's Restaurant

Alice's Restaurant
Arlo Guthrie ~ Marvin Glass ~ Grove Press, 1968

In an effort to visit this spot at least once a week, I want to share with you one of my favorite library finds. This past Thanksgiving, I contemplated whether or not my eight-year-old son was ready to partake in the listening of "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" (commonly called "Alice's Restaurant"), a Streetman family tradition since the beginning of time. I forgot to actually get the old record player cranked up, but regardless, seeing as I found this fabulous semi-nonfiction book in the children's section of the library where I work, the decision has been made. He's definitely ready!

As most of you kids born to the baby boomer generation know "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" is a song/ spoken word extravaganza written by Arlo Guthrie (son of famed folk singer Woody and a hippy-era legend in his own right) that was eventually made into a full length feature film staring Arlo himself. The story told within the song is loosely based on true events that happened to Arlo surrounding a Thanksgiving feast at his friend Alice's church/house in 1965 and involves a rather complicated case of arrest due to littering.



This song is called "Alice's Restaurant." It's about Alice, and the restaurant, but "Alice's Restaurant" is not the name of the restaurant, that's just the name of the song. That's why I call the song "Alice's Restaurant."

For those of you who have never heard the song before, it is freaking HILARIOUS and smartly political. Radio stations used to play the full 19 minute track every Thanksgiving when I was little (do they still do that?), so it was always a tradition in my house to sing along and recite as many of the lines as you could remember. It wasn't until high school that my sisters and I scored our own LP version of it and could listen whenever we wanted. (The B-side of which carries one on my all-time favorite songs ever, "The Motorcycle Song". Look it up. Best three minutes of your life.) 

The basic premise is that Arlo and his buddy go visit Alice for Thanksgiving and arrive at her house (which is an old church) only to find that Alice has a habit of letting the garbage pile up. In a friendly gesture, the two load the "half-a-ton" of garbage into their "red VW microbus with the shovels and rakes and implements of destruction" on top and take it to the dump only to discover that the dump is closed on Thanksgiving.

We'd never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes, we drove off into the sunset lookin' for another place to put the garbage. We didn't find one 'til we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road was a fifteen-foot cliff, and at the bottom of the cliff was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile was better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up, we decided to throw ours down.

This unfortunate event leads to an arrest and turns into one of the greatest songs sung by anyone, ever. It is a story about friendship. Kinda. More really about the Vietnam draft. It is anti-war and pro-people. It stars the unforgettable Officer Obie and a cast of other characters that entertain, educate, and delight. 

This song is one of those things in the world that reminds you how awesome people can be.



So let's just say that I was beyond the moon psyched to discover a book version of this ditty existed. I couldn't find anything on the illustrator (unless he is or was related to one of the greatest toy designers OF ALL TIME... Lite Bright, Mouse Trap, Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots and THE INCH WORM? Yes? No? Anyone? Anyone?) Regardless of who he was, the simple black and yellow illustrations are perfect for the tale. Whimsical and completely silly in a way over the top way.

Anywho... the existence of this book is way, way, way super cool in my book. If for some reason you've never heard of "Alice's Restaurant" (and aren't particularly prissy), take a seat on the "group W bench" and listen up and.... you're welcome.



Oh, what the hell...






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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Gia and the One Hundred Dollars Worth of Bubblegum


Frank Asch - McGraw-Hill Companies, 1974

Hello kids. Feels weird and strange to have been away from the interwebs for so long. (Though you can always visit me daily on Instagram if you just ask.) Happy new year and all that. I've been posting some over on my other blog, but mainly I've been working and taking care of family. Just wanted to share a little yellowed paperback that's been getting some love around these parts.





One day Gia and her friends were on their way to the circus...
...when they found an old dog with a hurt paw.
"Go on without me," said Gia. "I'll stay with this poor old dog."
Ever so carefully, Gia took the dog home and bandaged his paw.
"Thanks," said the dog, and gave Gia a hundred dollars.



Can you guess what she does with it?





Also by:
MacGoose's Grocery
Here Comes the Cat!
Monkey Face



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Monday, November 25, 2013

Great Holiday Give Winners!

Sorry I missed Friday guys! Too much going on. Even still... I am here now with the winners of the truncated four days of the Great Holiday Give!

The winner of the day four prize of the New York Review Children's Collection two-fer is Sy Pie.

The winner of the day three prize of The World is Round is Fierce Nauga.

The winner of the day two prize of the Cranberryport books is Mary Making.

The winner of the day one prize of Little Boy Brown is Sasha Dewitt.

To make up for my lack of a give on Friday, I have selected another winner at random from the fours days of entries to win a vintage surprise package from my personal collection. The winner of that secret bit of awesome is... Andrea!

Congrats winners. Please send me your mailing address to webe(at)soon(dot)com, and I will get your prizes out ASAP! Happy Hanukkah and Happy Thanksgiving all!




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