Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Snowman

Merry Christmas everyone! I might have a guest post or two in the meantime, but if you don't hear from me, know I'll be back on January 4. Now enjoy a few pages from the wordless wonder who gives Frosty a run for his money. Until next year gang...

The Snowman
Raymond Briggs ~ Random House, 1978

Also by:
Fungus the Bogeyman

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jingle Bells

Kathleen N. Daly ~ J.P. Miller
Western Publishing, 1964

More Golden Book love to celebrate the season. Really, I just can't get enough. Ms. Miller took the traditional song and wove it into a super fun story about animals and sleighs, and as always, Mr. Miller delights with his cuddly characters and, here, an interesting use of overlapping snow that really makes the outdoor scenes come alive.

Dashing through the snow comes the Bear family, in a one-horse open sleigh. There's Papa Bear and Mama Bear and two Baby Bears. "O'er the fields we go!" shouts Papa Bear cracking his whip. And the sleigh glides over the snowy fields. Laughing all the way, the Baby Bears sing Christmas carols and nibble on cold plum pudding.

The Bears soon come across a town full of Bunnys, and the next thing you know, there's a whole slew of wildlife onboard for the fun. (Who can say no to an ostrich and a seal needing a lift, right?)

Well, when the revelers run into Santa and discover his reindeer have come down with a nasty cold, guess who helps the jolly old elf deliver his toys? Somehow the animals make room and what follows is pure Golden Book magic.

Precious books for precious times... On that note, if we make the commitment to get excited about the books we read our children, to seek out the books we ourselves enjoy, our little ones can't help but follow. If you give one thing to your children this Christmas, read to them, as much as you can. The investment is small, but the payback is quality time spent and a love of learning that will last them a lifetime. Not only that, but reading to children is the best way we ourselves can become young again, even if only for a few moments each day.

Also by:
Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather
Little Peewee
The Around the Year Storybook
The Little Red Hen
Little Galoshes

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Great Monday Give: Friday Holiday Edition

Hey gang! Yesterday was a whopper of last-day-of-school-before-the holidays fun! Now we're getting ready for my husband's family Christmas party tonight. Since 8 am this morning.... I've helped the boy paint 17 dough ornaments, cleaned the house top to bottom, my husband's cooked a giant vat of chili, I've wrapped one present, prepped the ingredients for about 300 cookies, and I've been so busy that I've only had time to read two Christmas books aloud (Hillary Knight's 12 Days of Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas) to the boy while snuggled in front of the tree. Whew. 

That said, thanks for all the kind words and the record comments for the win this week... and without further blah blah, the winner of the box of booky goodness is Stephanie. Unfortunately, there is no way I am getting to the PO today, so if you get me your info this weekend, I'll be sure to hit the mail box in the AM on Monday. E-mail me at webe(at)soon(dot)com. My new Facebook friend Tamara Prosper is the winner of the mystery book. Send your info along too! Congrats to both you guys and thanks to everyone for playing. The Great Monday Give will be back on its regular schedule come January 4th, so stay tuned! Chao for now!

Friday, December 18, 2009

An Edwardian Christmas

Edwardian Christmas
John S. Goodall ~ Antheneum, 1978

Managed to get up before the dawn today to share this one. It's actually cold here in Texas this morning, so if I close my eyes and pretend, the world doesn't feel so far off from these pages. What the life must have been like when it was all handmade. I already feel guilty about having too much plastic to sort into my son's stocking, but after reading this, I get the feeling I should be darning more socks and plumming some pudding. Oh, to have been a child growing up at the beginning of the 1900s, able to visit the English countryside for Christmas. I realize I am idealizing (as this book does), but still... wouldn't real flickering candles on a tree be divine? And all those servants? Wow.

Once again, Goodall creates a wordless world for the reader to slip inside. An unannounced guest on an intimate life with moments that will have you lost in the details. A holiday costume ball. Ice skating and parlor parties. Little children gingerly hanging their stockings from bed posts. Rabbits waiting to be roasted in the market and a midnight walk to church. Evergreen garland on the banister and a delicate nest sitting abandoned in a tree. Hoping my son will look back on these picture book memories and appreciate the long forgotten places and people they help us to know. My goodness, where would we be without books to remind us? Enjoy!

Also by:
The Sleeping Beauty

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Grain Edit T-Shirts

Spent the better part of the day hosting Part One of my son's holiday party at school. You haven't lived until you helped two dozen 4-to-5-year-olds make dough ornaments. I'll be swept up in class holiday cheer tomorrow as well, but I'll try and get something up. I just wanted to mention that Grain Edit is shilling awesome limited edition T-shirts (designed by Invisible Creature) on a brand-spanking new Etsy site. I am wondering if he is gonna be selling more books like this one soon, because if he opens up his vintage inventory for business online, it might just send my whole family to the poorhouse.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas in the Country

Christmas in the Country
Barbara Collyer and John R. Foley
pictures by Retta Worcester ~ Simon and Schuster, 1950

An early Little Golden Book and a collector's favorite, I managed to buy this at a thrift shop for 49 cents last year. It's not in the best condition, but it's a perfect reading copy and that's good enough for us. And what fun it is. When Betty and Bob go with their folks to their grandparents for the holidays, it definately makes for a country Christmas.I mean really, who wouldn't want to be fetched from the train station by a horse-drawn sleigh? All the classic Christmas traditions are here. Setting off to cut down the tree. Stringing cranberries in front of the wood burning stove. Carols by the old organ. And the best part, a seasonal bedtime story drawn into life."Grandmother," Bob asked, when he was ready to be tucked in bed, "is everyone in the world getting ready for Christmas the way we are?" "Everyone," Grandmother assured him. "Why I dare say over in the barn at this very moment even animals are getting ready for Christmas. Perhaps they're having a tree of their own, and of course, the hens would be making corn garlands for it, just as Betty made her cranberry chain. And who'd do better at trimming the tree than the pigeons who live in the loft?
The magical fantasy goes on for a few pages. The pigs do the baking. The cows wraps the presents. And the lambs knit the stockings (with their own wool of course!) A funny and snuggly story for the beginning of a long winter night. See full scans of the book on the wonderful blog Golden Gems.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Christmas ABC

The Christmas ABC
Eloise Wilkin ~ Golden Press, 1962

I have a handful of sweet Little Golden Books for the season sitting here on my desk and every time I look at them, they make me smile. And, of course, it wouldn't be the holidays if I didn't share a bit of Wilkin Christmas. All the little vintage details on these pages are so dear it makes me wish I could go back as a fly on the wall to one of my mother's Christmas mornings. I particularly love the illustration of the family leaving church, the little girl's pink overcoat and the mother's pill-box hat or the fact that the dad is wearing a hat at all. Though the pages are aged and beginning to crack, the Christmas spirit still rings true here in every element from the illuminated letters (isn't the wooden C divine?) to the silver tinsel hung from the tree. Tender memories, indeed.

Also by:
We Like Kindergarten
Wonders of Seasons
The Golden Bible
Wonders of Nature

Monday, December 14, 2009

Great Monday Give: Surprise Grab Box

Ho ho ho everyone! Christmas is coming like a freight train, so to celebrate, I'm offering up a special holiday edition of the Great Monday Give that is actually gonna end FRIDAY so that the books can arrive (hopefully) in time for Christmas. And what is the prize? I am happy to say it's gonna be a grab box of goodies from the VKBMKLs archives. Everything I send will either be a new copy of an old book or an old copy of an old book, but I promise each book will be even more awesome than the next, handpicked from my personal collection!

And what will be in this box of magical book fun? Well, that part is a surprise, but know that it will have at least 10 books in it and they will all be super cool. To be entered to win, all you have to do is comment on this post before midnight, Friday the 18th. Also, every person who follows my Twitter or joins me on Facebook between now and then will be entered into a special one book mystery drawing. Both winners will be announced on Saturday! If the winners send me their info over the weekend, I'll try and get the books out as fast as humanly possible so you can add them under the tree if you want. (No guarantees though!) So be sure and check back on Saturday to see if you've won.

I also wanna say, sometimes a winner never contacts me about a win. Now, I love giving the GMG to everyday readers, so just know I do not go hunting people down if they've won something and don't contact me. If you don't e-mail me... you won't get the book, yes?

As for last week's give of The Snowy Day... Dee is the big winner! Let's all congratulate her. Please send me your mailing info to: webe(at)soon(dot)com.

I will be taking a week and a half off starting on Christmas Eve. You may hear from me, you may not, but know that I'll be back for sure with a new Great Monday Give on January 5. In the meantime, be expecting a ton of great picks between now and next Thursday. Bye!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Santa Makes a Change

Santa Makes a Change
Sol Chaneles ~ Jerome Snyder
Parent's Magazine Press, 1970

Again, I apologize to all my atheist and anti-consumerism readers out there, but since it is the season and I am entrenched in Christmas books, I must forge ahead. (I swear I have a Hanukkah book or two somewhere up my sleeve, so bear with me!) That said, here's Parent's Magazine Press tickler, where we find our hero, Santa, bored with his drab garb of red and white.

"Nobody wears knickers and black boots anymore. No, I must make a change of costume. Why, do you know that last Christmas one little boy thought my red hat was a nightcap! And this jacket," said Santa. "Nobody wears loose, floppy jackets anymore. No, I must make a change of costume."

A weird twist on ELF EYE FOR THE FAT GUY, Santa's little helpers take him shopping for a new look. He reinvents himself as a guard at Buckingham Palace...a cowboy... a knight......and a slew of other characters before he realises his "suit is not the latest thing. It's somewhat worn in places. But people know me when I bring a smile of children's faces."These pages beg the question, "Does this outfit make me look 'chubby and plump'?" Sorry to say that in Santa's case the answer is, yes!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Babar and Father Christmas

Babar and Father Christmas
Jean De Brunhoff ~ Random House, 1940

Oh, how I love the original Babar books. They are so intriguing and a bit bizarre, particularly to a girl who grew up in small town America. The thinking and the imagination were always so cosmopolitan to me, and the sparks still fly from no matter how old I get. Sometimes it's hard to believe how long ago they were written as they are perfect snapshots of how I thought the world was back then. Idealized versions... almost too modern to actually be vintage. In this holiday story, we find the monkey Zephir excitedly confiding in the elephant cousins Arthur, Pom, Flora and Alexander...

"Listen, listen to this wonderful tale which I've just heard! It seems that in Man's country, every year, on the night before Christmas, a very kind old gentleman with a large white beard, wearing a red suit with a pointed hood, flies over the countryside. He carries with him great quantities of toys and gives them to the little children. They call him Father Christmas. It is difficult to catch a glimpse of him for he comes down the chimney while one sleeps. Next morning the children know he has been there because they find toys in their shoes. Why shouldn't we write him to come here too and see us in Elephant's country?"

When their letters go unanswered, Babar takes it upon himself to journey and find Father Christmas to ask him in person. A series of mistaken identities eventually leads him deep in the snowy forest where he is rescued by Christmas dwarfs.

Upon meeting the man himself and finding out how tired and stressed he is, he invites the old man back to Elephant country to recharge. FC rides zebras, basks in the sun and goes back home ready to take on Christmas like a champ... leaving Babar a red suit and orders on how to get toys to all the children in his own world.

Interestingly, a few years ago I came across a book called The Father Christmas Letters. It is a collection of hand-drawn and written letters that J.R.R. Tolkien's children were lucky enough to receive from Father Christmas during the two decades of their youth, starting in 1920. The look of Tolkien's Father Christmas as well as his intricate, multilayered underground workshop is eerily similar in both cases.

(De Brunhoff's Underground Hideout)

(Tolkien's Underground Hideout)

Who knows if the two ever swapped notes, but it is curious, no? Makes you wonder...

Also by:
Travels of Babar
Babar and Zephir
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