Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nursery Friends from France

Nursery Friends from France
translated by
Olive Beaupré Miller ~ illustrated by Maud and Miska Petersham ~ The Book House For Children, 1925

Ah, yes... the new year is upon us... I will close it out with this pick and not say too much to distract from the moment. This wonderful big book is illustrated by the supremely talented Petersham gang and is a toast to all things French in the nursery rhyme department. From the foreword...

These little chansons, which take the place of nursery rhymes in France, have been beloved by generations of French children, for most of them are at least a hundred years old. They come to America, bearing the lively, varied rhythms, now gay and bounding in merriment, now sweet and tender, which can well up from no single writer, but only from the hearts of a whole people. There is more of the real France in the rhymes than in volumes of more learned books.

Lovely, lovely, lovely. That said, have a very happy new year, and I'll see you kids on Monday. Cheers.

Also by:
The Box With Red Wheels
The Circus Baby

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Bunny Book

The Bunny Book
Patsy Scarry ~ pics by Richard Scarry ~ Golden Press, 1955

Perhaps the sweetest "what I wanna be when I grow up" story of all time, somehow my son loved this one before I started digging out my old BIG Scarry books. Though Richard's over-sized "Busytown" books didn't arrive until the 60s, he illustrated a good many Little Golden Books the decade before like this one, written in collaboration with his wife, Patricia. The story of the sweetest baby bunny... his future is what propels the action of the story, mainly in that everyone from his cousin to his grandma speculates what he might be when his legs grow out.

THE daddy bunny tossed his baby in the air. "What will our baby be when he grows up?" asked the daddy bunny.
"He will be a policeman with gold buttons on his suit," said the mother bunny. "He will help little lost children find their mothers and daddies."
"Maybe he will be a circus clown," said the daddy bunny. "He will wear a funny suit and do funny tricks to make the children laugh."
"Why can't our baby be a cowboy?" asked the bunny brother. "If he grows up to be a cowboy he can ride horses at the rodeo."
But the baby bunny did not want to be a policemen or a circus clown or a cowboy when he grew up. He sat in his basket and smiled at his bunny family. He knew what he would be.

His prospects look pretty good to his family too... with aspirations from lifeguard to lion tamer to candy man. You know, with all the playground "bad boy" talk my son has picked up during his short stint at preschool, innocent stories like this are what keep me going and remind me that he's still a young'un when I'm holding him tight reading him a book. Nothing makes the heart light like a wee bunny in pajamas!

Also by:
I Am a Bunny
Chipmunk's ABC
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rabbit and His Friends
Great Big Air Book
Richard Scarry's Best Rainy Day Book Ever
Tommy Visits the Doctor

Monday, December 29, 2008


Little Golden Guide for Birds
Herbert Zim & Ira Gabrielson ~ pics by James Irving
Simon & Schuster, 1949

Seeing as my son is a bird freak and Santa was all about setting up said bird freak with birds and bird-related items, I figure it is about time to trot out the Golden Nature Guides, and in particular (you guessed it!) the one called Birds: A Guide to the Most Familiar American Birds. My own childhood set of these Golden Guides was a must-have throughout my youth. I seriously doubt an adolescent day passed for me when I wasn't looking up the name of some bug or trying to figure out what a lizard eats in one of these wee nature guides. When eBay first started up way back when, replenishing my long lost collection was the very first thing I did with my account. If you are at all interested in getting you child engaged in nature, then snatch up as many of these titles as you can get your hands on.

My son is still too young to enjoy our complete set... except for this little ditty and odds are he can probably name every single bird variety listed within. Its child-size pages, innocence of tone and gorgeous illustrations get me every time.

Practice is essential. Go looking for birds as often as you can. As to time of day, early mornings are best. By the time the sun is well up, bird activity slows down and does not resume till late afternoon. Marsh birds are most active near dawn or in the evening, but ducks, waterfowl and hawks may be seen all day. Make bird watching a week-end habit the year round. Try getting out early on spring mornings when the birds are migrating north. Follow and observe them as they nest in the summer. Watch them as they form flocks and start south in the fall. You learn something from every bird you see.

Really, even if you live in the city, bird watching is something any kid can do, so even more than its sister guides, Birds is the one to share with your child. My little hardback copy is what you will find tucked in my purse for that line wait at the grocery store. When I whip it out, the boy's good for at least 15 minutes!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Etsy Sale and 3 Swell Giveaways!!

Hey gang... the Great After Christmas Holiday Blowout has arrived... Discounts have been taken throughout the store, and I have two special offers just for you readers. First off, one lucky reader who places an order for any book in my Etsy store between now and New Year's Day will receive their very own copy of the book pictured to the right absolutely free! It is a slightly-used but still awesome hardcopy of There's Something There!, a collection of three bedtime classics by Mercer Mayer including: There's Something in the Attic, There's a Nightmare in My Closet and There's an Alligator Under My Bed. To be entered to win, you must tell me in the comments section of your order that you read about the giveaway here, as only blog readers will be entered to win. I will pick one winner at random and just pack the book up with your order!

Second, below I have a short list of books that I've reviewed here on Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves and also have for sale at my Etsy shop. For each book you purchase from the list below, you will receive another book (of my choosing) absolutely free. I guarantee no crappy books will be sent, only good stuff! (Plus, I am still running my buy-four-books-get-a-surprise-book-free promo, so let's say you bought all four books off this list, then you'd actually get five more surprise books free! Confused? So am I, geez! This is WAY too much info for one post.)

Highlights from the store!
Masquerade: Reviewed here. Sold here.
Scuttle the Stowaway Mouse: Reviewed here. Sold here.
The Golden Egg Book: Reviewed here. Sold here.
Anansi the Spider: Reviewed here. Sold here

Plus, don't forget to comment on the extra special New Year's edition of The Great Monday Give.

That said, I'm off. See you tomorrow and happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Noel's Christmas Secret

Noel's Christmas Secret
Grégoire Solotareff ~ Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1988

Originally published in France, Noel's Christmas Secret is an interesting take on how Santa came to be. And so it begins... Noel is a sweet little boy who stumbles across a large red sack in the woods one day.

One day, whole Noel was walking in the woods near his house, he came upon a huge red sack. There was an envelope on top of it. It said:


Noel opened the envelop. The handwriting was shaky, so he sat down on the sack and read the letter, aloud, slowly, as he did in school.

To whoever found this huge red sack,

We will meet you tomorrow in the very same place. But be careful not to tell anyone that you found this.

Until tomorrow,
Apple, Thumb, and Piggy

A series of events lead the boy to make a secret pact with a bunch of magic dwarf magicians culminating in his immortality and the delivery of presents to children every December the 24th. Wonderfully illustrated, finding it this year sure offered some respite from reading The Night Before Christmas yet again. (Alas, how quickly the fruit spoils! Just one more day folks! One more day!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Songs We Sing From Rodgers and Hammerstein

Songs We Sing from Rodgers and Hammerstein
illustrated by William Dugan ~ Golden Press, 1957

I am moments away from wrapping this book for Christmas to gift to two little girls I know, and I am sad to see it go. Part of me hopes that their estate sale-loving mother has already stumbled across it before so I can take it back home with me. But part of me knows, probably not. As much as I love it, this will totally make two little musical-happy girls way more delighted than crusty old me. I've scanned so many pictures here, because I just couldn't decide which ones were more awesome... they are all so great. As the cover states, these are piano arrangements of popular songs from Oklahoma, South Pacific, Carousel, Pipe Dream, State Fair, Allegra, and The King and I. I will let its awesomeness speak for itself. (Take special note however of the corn that's as high as an elephant's eye. That slays me!)

Oh, what a beautiful morning
Oh, what a beautiful day
I've got a beautiful feeling
Every thing's going my way!

Also by:
How Our Alphabet Grew

Monday, December 22, 2008

Great Monday Give: Golden Treasury of Children's Literature

Merry Christmas everyone. Happy Hanukkah and soon to be Happy New Year. The Last (and technically the first) Great Monday Give of the year is here, and I hope you'll be as psyched as I am about it. Shortly after I found this book and reviewed it, I stumbled across another copy and couldn't wait to give it away. So, this is a really good copy of The Golden Treasury of Children's Literature. This 1971 edition features over 540 pages of children's book greatness with stories illustrated by Charles Harper, Eloise Wilkin, The Provensens, Gordon Laite, Hillary Knight, Lilian Obligado, William Dugan, Kanako Tanabe, J.P. Miller and more... The awesomeness of this fat tome is blinding, really. Usually this book gets priced for around $10, but I think in the coming years its price will rise as more people actually look inside and see what's there. Another book that features the Charley Harper illustrated story "Bambi Finds the Meadow" called The Golden Treasury of Animal Stories and Poems sometimes sells for over $75 because of it.

Anywho, this book rocks hard.... All you have to do to be entered to win is comment on this post before midnight ~ January 6, 2009. A winner will be selected at random and announced the following day.

And now, the winner of last week's give of The King, The Mice and the Cheese... Anamaria! Congrats big time sister! E-mail me webe(at)soon(dot)com with your mailing info.

Have a great one gang!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Byrd Baylor Schweitzer ~
Garth Williams ~ Macmillan, 1963

Though this book isn't about the holidays, its theme sure makes good on the season. Told in sometime rhyme, the story is about a poor Mexican boy who wants more than anything a dog... but when his family can't afford one, the idea of taming a prairie dog begins to look really good and so our tale begins.

Very gently he whispered
The word
Was so soft
It could only be heard
By one prairie dog
And one low-flying bird...
It was half laugh, half song,
The kind of word that floats along.

Little does the boy know that at that same time a wee prairie dog is thinking about taming a boy himself, and the intersection of these dreams is pure sweetness. You have the love of nature, the essence of hope, appreciating what you have in life, and all sorts of good "green" messages tied in here for the holiday season. Oh, what a lovely thing a friend is indeed. I just love Garth's drawings here, at once sad and melancholy, then a few pages over filled with pure joy. This is the feel good story I needed to read today.

Also by:
Wait Til the Moon is Full
Do You Know What I'll Do?
The Sky Was BlueThe Rabbit's Wedding
Three Bedtime Stories
The Friendly Book

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Makes It Go? What Makes It Work? What Makes It Fly? What Makes It Float?

Joe Kaufman's What Makes It Go? What Makes It Work? What Makes It Fly? What Makes It Float?
Joe Kaufman ~ Golden Press, 1977

Though some of the info in this book is wildly outdated, it still totally rocks. Not completely sure who Joe Kaufman was/is (fill me in someone please) other than an amazing illustrator, but the way all things are explained here and the incredibly cool cut-a-ways make this a book I sometimes "accidentally" leave in the bathroom to peruse myself. My son is just starting to get into asking how things work, so it was an ideal time for this book to arrive in my possession.

I've pictured three illustrations here, the later of which is Joe's vision of the future... some of which seems to have come true...

Instead of having a separate television, telephone and record player, as some people do today, you might have one single machine, a home communications center, that would do all the things they do. This machine might also be able to project slides, movies, and video tapes. While people today have shelves of books, people in this future city might also have shelves of video tape cassettes which could be put into the tape-playing part of the home communications center and watched and heard. These would be books with moving pictures.

Wow, how bad would he have freaked back then that you would have something like this that fits in your pocket? I like to think of this book as a time machine of sorts, but the majority of the book is filled with basic mechanics, which for the most part have remained unchanged: washing machine, light bulb, stove, bank vault, etc. Besides, I always wanted to know how a turntable works.

Sadly, I never had this book as a child, because it's exactly the sort of thing I'd have spent hours pouring over, studying every frame and word. Good to know my boy won't be so unlucky.

Also by:
Learning About Sizes
Joe Kaufman's Book About Busy People

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How Little Porcupine Played Christmas

How Little Porcupine Played Christmas
Joseph Slate ~ Felicia Bond ~ Thomas Y. Crowell, 1982

You guys know I am a snob about vintage kids' books, but that doesn't mean we don't visit our independent bookshop weekly to check out what's new. Though I was hesitant at first, I did eventually fall in love with Felicia Bond's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and subsequent titles, so when I recognized her illustrations on the Christmas display at the library, I couldn't help myself. Written in the early 80s, it has since been reissued with a different cover and title (Little Porcupine's Christmas), but go ahead and buy a previously-loved copy or check it out at the library as I'm sure this woman has more money than God at this point. (Just kidding. Tis always nice to line illustrator's/author's pockets with dough, no? Better them than those shysters at Fisher Price.)

So there's this porcupine see, and all he wants to do is be in the "Baby in the Manger" play... but his school/woodland chums think he's to prickly to be in the play and they oust him to janitor status and leave him out in the proverbial cold. Even though his momma thinks him "the light of my life", the other kids/pups/cubs/kits/lambs/ducklings turn cruel and nasty...

"No," says Little Fox.
"There is no part for you in the play. You are too funny looking."
"Besides," says Chipmunk, "the cotton snow will stick to your spines."
"And so will the tinsel," says Bunny.

Alas, the night of the play arrives and when it's discovered that there's no star for the wise men to follow, it is Little Porcupine's moment to shine. The drawings are dear and primitive and cast a wonderful shadow on a story that's all heart. Really, a feel good holiday tale for all those kids who've ever been left out of the fun.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas
Clement C. Moore
~ Leonard Weisgard ~ Grosset & Dunlap, 1949

Nine days to go... Just a heads up, I know a lot of you folks will be heading out for the holidays, but be sure and tune in on Monday for a very special Great Monday Give. The give will run for two weeks and the winner won't be announced until January 5th, so stay tuned. I might be taking a few days off here and there, but for the most part, I'll be here doing what I always do.
That said, here is another version of the Clement C. Moore classic illustrated by the great Leonard Weisgard. Originally entitled "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" and written as a Christmas gift for his children in 1822, it is the most famous of Christmas poems and perhaps even one of the most famous poems, period. Check out the scan of the original copy given to his kids... putting to sleep the decades old debate with myself... "So is it Donner or Donder? Bloody hell." has a glossary giving definitions to those confounding words like sash and clatter and droll and ere, just in case any of you librarians were confused. (I'm having one of those isn't the Internet a wealth of information? moments. Pardon.) Suffer through my favorite descriptive line please...

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

Good stuff. Every year I like to reread this and A Christmas Carol to see how yet another year farther and farther way from my youth has changed my perception of these glorious tomes. (Too though I am biased as an ex-employee and true Muppet lover, please don't miss out on showing your kids The Muppet Christmas Carol... my old Scrooge of a husband thinks Michael Caine serves as the best one yet.... truly, I cry every year.)

Also by:
The Quiet Noisy Book
Little Chicken
The Little Island
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Treasures to See
The Big Book of Nursery Tales
The Night Before Christmas

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Child's Book of Poems

A Child's Book of Poems
Gyo Fujikawa ~ Grosset & Dunlap, 1969

Soooo good. Really, any time I find a Fujikawa book, I do a little dance right then and there. Then I scream inside with joy. And then I run to the sales girl lest some other educated thrifter try and pry it from my gold dead hands. Her books are real treasures. This delightful, wonder of a woman must have possessed such glee in her soul to create drawings that are so full of life and youthful wonderment. Each page is like a giggle and reminds me of the moment between when your child looks at you and smiles and then the words "I love you" spill from their mouths. So innocent and pure and happy. Just perfection. Seeing as this is a poetry collection, the author selections here are excellent with poets ranging from Rossetti to Wordsworth... Tennyson to Longfellow... and each is totally relevant to the life of a child. I've selected one in honor of my son...


Be like the bird, who
Halting in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him,
Yet sings,
Knowing he hath wings.

A wonderful book to introduce children to poetry. It is over sized and packed to the brim with poems. Barnes & Noble's Sterling imprint has the rights for reprint on many of her books, but lots of vintage copies are available online. Every child of the 60s and 70s grew up with this wonderful author and illustrator, so please let your kids in on the secrets that all of our hearts already know. Gyo is pure gold.

A piece from her New York Times obituary says it best.... Although she was engaged for a few years beginning at the age of 19, Miss Fujikawa never married. In her autobiographical sketch, written in her later years, she said, "I am flattered when people ask me how I know so much about how children think and feel. Although I have never had children of my own, and cannot say I had a particularly marvelous childhood, perhaps I can say I am still like a child myself. Part of me, I guess, never grew up."

Also by:
A Child's Garden of Verses
Let's Grow a Garden
Baby Animals
Oh, What a Busy Day!
Our Best Friends
Come Follow me
Fairy Tales and Fables


Read along on Facebook, tumblr, Twitter and Etsy

Great Monday Give: King, the Mice and the Cheese

Oh man, there really aren't enough hours in the day. That said, this week's Great Monday Give is a vintage hardcover copy of The King, The Mice and the Cheese by Nancy and Eric Gurney in excellent condition. All you have to do to win this book is comment on this post right here before midnight ~ Sunday, December 21, and a winner will be selected at random.

Like Carm, for instance, who walks away today with last week's give of three Little Golden Christmas titles. Congrats little lady and please e-mail me your mailing info to webe(at)gvtc(dot)com.

Have a great one!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Why am I a few days (weeks?) late hearing about this....? Regardless, I am stealing copy from Cool Mom Picks to pass on the good word...


We interrupt the tidings of comfort and joy to bring you some heartbreaking news.

Of course we're all for strengthening the safety standards of mass-produced toys made in China, and banning toxins like phthalates and lead. But this year, the CPSC passed the ill-conceived Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act which goes into effect in two months and will absolutely decimate the small toy manufacturers, independent artisans, and crafters who have already earned the public trust. The very same ones that we often feature here and in our Safer Toy Guide.

They will all go out of business. Period.

Moms who sew beautiful handmade waldorf dolls out of home, artists who have spent decades hand-carving trucks and cars out of natural woods, that guy at the craft show who sold you the cute handmade puzzle--even larger US companies who employ local workers and have not once had any sort of safety issue will no longer be able to sell their toys. Not without investing tens of thousands of dollars into third-party testing and labeling, just to prove that toys that never had a single chemical in them still don't have a single chemical in them.

In other words, handmade toys will now be illegal.

So many of our past reviewees are pleading for your help. Here's what you can do:

- Find your congress person and senators and write a letter like the sample here, particularly if they serve on the consumer protection subcommittee.

- Send a letter directly to the CPSC.

- Join the Handmade Toy Alliance and check out their proposed changes to the act which make a whole lot of sense.

- Spread the word to everyone you know who cares about helping the little guy, particular in today's economy.

Thanks mamas. We know we can help make a difference and preserve this important cottage industry, keep good honest people in business, and protect the playthings we all love best of all. -Liz and Kristen and the whole CMP staff

Edited to add: It would seem this act impacts not just toys, but all children's products (thanks, Diana) including clothing, hair accessories, shoes - pretty much everything we feature here. Please please, if you do one thing today, shoot off an email or two, will you?

Scribbler: Geez, what a downer. Etsy would go out of business and thousands of children would be forced to parade around in duds from the Philippines, playing with toys made exclusively in China. Sounds like Utopia to me. Gag.

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood
Elizabeth Orton Jones~ Golden Press, 1948

Ah yes, that most famous tale of mistaken identity and edible grandmothers. The forest is a dark and mysterious place kiddos, and strangers are better left unspoken to, if you catch my drift. Orton Jones' drawings are almost huggable in their Hummel lushness, making you wish you were a wee tot wandering into those gorgeous woods. Not even an evil wolf could keep me from scooting down that path, people. Toadstools, moss and shadows, oh my!

My son is terrified of wolves for a medley of reasons, but thankfully for some reason this one doesn't spook him too bad... odds are he doesn't mind because he gets to imagine the woodsman hacking him open at the end to retrieve Red and her granny. What boy wouldn't wanna see that story out to the end?

A passing woodsman stepped into the house to see how Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother was feeling. And when he saw the wolf, he said, "Ah ha! I've found you at last, you wicked old rascal!" He lifted his ax, and with one blow, killed him. Then he cut the wolf open and out stepped Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother.

Awesome! Not for the faint of heart, it's one that's sure get their imaginations revving.

Also by:
Prayer for a Child
Small Rain
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