Monday, March 2, 2009

You Ought To See Herbert's House

You Ought to See Herbert's House
Doris Herold Lund ~ pics Steven Kellogg ~ Franklin Watts, 1973

Back when I was only 20 and working in New York on Fifth Avenue at the old Doubleday Bookshops that used to be across from Tiffany's (RIP), I picked up a book from the 70s called Eric. It was written by Doris Lund about her son who she lost to Leukemia when he was 20 himself. It is a powerful book, full of a mother's love and the courage of a young boy choosing to live life to the fullest rather than succumb to misery.

Fast forward almost a decade, and I meet my husband and fall in love and find out that Eric's brother, Mark, is one of his best friends from college. Well, fast forward to another decade and I am happy to call Mark one of my friends, and last week he and his wife visited us in San Antonio, and he mentioned that his mother had also written children's books. How I did not know this, I'll never know.

Via some online bookseller, Herbert's House arrived to us yesterday, and though Steven Kellogg is not one of my favorite illustrators (my son adores his stuff), still, what a great story and the drawings definitely match.

So, there's this boy Herbert, see. And he's made a new friend named Roger, and Roger brings him home to show him all the cool things there... and Herbert begins to brag on his own house, telling tall tale after tall tale, until it seems that he lives in a castle filled with all the wonders of the universe. Soon, Herbert's lies catch up with him, and when he arrives at his own home, they all spill out to his mother...

So Herbert told his mother about the house with the moat and the drawbridge and all the pets and the geraniums growing in the hall and the trees in the living room and the tepees in his bedroom and the room that was always ready for a party. "My!" Herbert's mother laughed. Then she shook her head. "You and your glorious imagination! You really did get carried away this time."

Then together, Mom and Herbert go about building Herbert's castle, of sorts, right there in his own modest home... complete with chocolate cake and a tepee to sleep in... and snakes! By the time Roger comes over, all is well in love and fun.

After Doris passed a few years back, Mark gifted us an oriental rug from her home in New England. It was a treasure we gratefully accepted, because Mark is one of my favorite people now and having something of the mother that he loved in our home is a huge honor. And now, it's part of children's literature history as well. So, with that, I'm off to find Attic of the Wind and dig up my old copy of Eric for a reread.

Also by:
Attic of the Wind
I Wonder What's Under
Mysterious Tadpole


Jennifer said...

Ooh, I've never seen this one! I am a big Steven Kellogg fan, and I'm always finding older stuff I didn't know existed. Thanks!

Oh, and my personal Kellogg favorite is Ralph's Secret Weapon. Heh heh.

heather said...

What an awesome book. I'm going to have to look into deatil about this author, I think my kids would love it.

Swati said...

I particularly enjoyed reading today's post and getting to know these details :)

Pardon My French said...

Nice post! I do like Steven Kellogg, but am especially curious about this book now (and the connections are lovely). I'm dying to see what the mother came up with.

Burgin Streetman said...

I knew i was gonna regret the Kellogg comment... he's growing on me, I promise... and the boy loves him. In the end that is all that really matters anyway.

Unknown said...

I Wonder What's Under was my oldest son's favorite childhood book. We took it out of the library again and again since I could never find a copy. Many many years ago, I actually contacted Mrs. Lund in my quest to find a copy...she had none!! When our library was getting rid of old books, the librarian remembered my son's fondness for the story and offered it to us (we gladly accepted). Now my son is about to become a father and I would LOVE to find another copy for him (so I can hold on to my own). If you have any idea at all where I could find another copy, I'd be greatly indebted.

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