Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nothing Ever Happens On My Block

Nothing Ever Happens on My Block
Ellen Raskin ~ Macmillan, 1966

Feels good to be back, though I have to admit this is the first moment I've had to myself in two days. My son's birthday is a mere week and a half away, and there is planning aplenty afoot. You all should know by now that the only time I buy new books or new hardcovers of classics for the most part is to celebrate the random birthday/holiday. I'd mentioned before that I want my son to have at least a few books in his collection that don't have the words "To Billy from Aunt Marge, Christmas 1974" written on the inside cover. That said, in case you were wondering, I stopped by The Red Balloon today and plopped down the dough for a shiny new copy of Birds (for obvious reasons) by Kevin Henkes with illustrations by his wife Laura Dronzek. The boy is a bird nut. What can I say.

And, I did promise a return to daily reviews sooooo... here is a book that is so totally rad in its execution that it is easy to see why the vintage hardcover version sells for a pretty penny. Ellen certainly had the eye of a designer, blending color, modern typeface and sharp lines (not to mention a clever story) to create a book that is massively fun to look at. The UW Web site states... "Raskin always selected the typeface and designed the title page and each other page, as well, for each of her books. She designed the jacket and did the necessary color separations." That attention to detail is reflected on every page of this book in such a neat way, that you can't help but feel good looking at it. Anywho...

So there's this kid, see.

My name is Chester Filbert.
I live at 5264 West One Hundred and seventy-seventh Street.
Some places have marching bands
or haunted houses,
courageous hunters hunting,
ferocious lions and tigers,
pirates and buried treasure...


It goes on like this until we realize that Chester is complaining about how boring his street is... that when he grows up he'll move to escape the tedium, yet, all the while, behind him chaos ensues in a huge way. A thief lurks. A fire rages. Kids pull stunts. A hapless postmen is dowsed in water. A parachute lands. An ambulance is called. Money is blown. All while Chester sits like a toad on a log lamenting his block's lameness. Too cute. The dedication page ~ especially ~ gives me an extra tickle.

This book is dedicated to Susan, Patty, Steve and Larry, Mike and Helene, Nelle, Gina and children everywhere, except Chester Filbert. He's just too dull.

Classic.

10 comments:

Heather said...

Oh, that Ellen Raskin! As a child I was always puzzled by the eyes attached to the nose in her illustrations. Whose nose extends up to their eyeballs?

scribbler said...

i had not noticed that but now that you mention it.... FREAKY. :)

aly said...

I don't remember having any of her books as a kid, but we've found a couple (including this one) at library sales and they're fabulous! My kids don't fully get the humor yet, but that'll come.

ellsworth said...

It's wonderful that your son loves birds at such an early age. I did, too. I hope he continues to appreciate them (as I have) because birds, even the "ordinary" ones, bring us constant joy.

CMG said...

Ellen Raskin is one of my favorites! I just ordered this book from a seller on Etsy. It is great!

fedsped said...

Leon I mean Noel...thanks for the memory, going to look for it now!

Envelope Printing said...

Haven't heard of those books before too, but they must be really good books :) Hope your son's birthday went well.

Emmy said...

My son loves loves this book. I enjoy the different colors for the different events that are taking place.

E. Peevie said...

OMG. I know you posted this review months ago, but I just came across it because I was planning to write a blog post with the same title as the book, and I googled it because I remembered loving the book in my long-ago childhood.

You have made me so happy I could sh*t rainbows, and now I am going to get online and buy a copy to share with my kids.

Jonathan said...

I found this blog after Googling Chester Filbert's name. I was just telling my wife about this book, which I loved as a kid-- especially the house with the witch/witches.

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