Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Over the River and Through the Wood

Over the River and Through the Wood
Lydia Maria Child ~ Brinton Turkle
Coward, McCann & Geoghegan ~ 1974

I did have a small handful of Thanksgiving books I wanted to talk about last week, but life got the best of me. I'll hold the bulk for next year, but there was one in particular I thought fitting to move ahead with. When I was little, we didn't know enough stanzas of this song to realise it was a Thanksgiving poem. I thought it had more of a general holiday/cold weather theme. And we always sang "to grandmother's house" we go, but hey, just shows you how much we knew.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh,
Though the white and drifted snow.

It might even be that someone (my grandmother perhaps) taught us to sing this first verse over and over again so we missed the rest of the song with its pumpkin pie et al. Or perhaps I'm simply forgetting. All the same, this wonderful take on Child's traditional holiday song is by the illustrator of the Caldecott Honor award-winning classic Thy Friend, Obadiah.

Ms. Child originally published the song as a poem entitled A Boy's Thanksgiving Day in 1844. Oddly enough, Ms. Child was most famous for penning this ode to holiday travel, but her true legacy lies in using her gift of words toward helping abolish slavery and forward the women's rights movement. One classy gal if you ask me.

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers here in the states... now, let the Christmas season begin!


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Monday, November 29, 2010

Great Holiday Give Grab Bag 'O Fun

I'm back (barely) today with news of lots of good things.... for one, the last Great Monday Give of the year will be a Great Holiday Give... namely a great, big grab box of fun.... I'll be giving you hints as to what will be in the give box over the next week or so, but just know that it will be at least ten titles of awesomeness (and probably more) of new vintage, well-loved vintage and otherwise. To be entered to win this box 'o fun, simply comment on this post before 11:59 PM on Sunday, December 12. A winner will be selected the next day and announced ASAP.

Tomorrow I'll be back with a holiday-themed review, but in the meantime, check out an interview I did with Books For Your Kids, the blog of the awesome Tanya, a book-loving momma and bookseller who is passing the love along, one post at a time. Her site is a great resource for children's books new and old, so be sure and have a look.

Be aware, too, that I'm extending the $3 flat rate shipping in the Etsy shop for at least another week. I thought I'd have more things up by now, but alas, Thanksgiving swallowed me alive. Also, if you are planning on shopping at Amazon this Cyber Monday or anytime in the future, be sure and click to it through my site (here or through the ads in the sidebar) and a small portion of anything you purchase (books, electronics, toys, etc.) will go to VKBMKLs to be used for buying more books for further review!

Until tomorrow, check out these reviews of holidays past...

An Edwardian Christmas by John Goodall

Grandpa's Witched-Up Christmas by James Flora

Christmas in the Country by Retta Worcester

Christmas Eve at the Mellops by Tomi Ungerer

How Six Found Christmas by Trina Schart Hyman


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Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Madness

As much as I hate to admit it, I think I'm out of commission for the next week. I might try and chime in with a review or two, but with the boy at home and the house full of out-of-town action, I might be overestimating my blogging abilities.

Remember, $3 flat rate shipping in the Continental US in my Etsy shop until Thanksgiving Day... so be sure and check it out! And if you are doing any Amazon shopping this holiday season, (like preordering a copy of my favorite blogger, Ward Jenkin's, Chicks Run Wild) please think of me and link through this site.

The next Great Monday Give kicks off on November 29...

and if I don't see you before then.... Have a great Thanksgiving all you Yankees!


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Friday, November 19, 2010

Update Friday: D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths

My son has finally arrived at this book, and I couldn't be happier. Really, any child between the ages of five and 12 who doesn't have it in their personal library is totally missing out. This Update Friday... to celebrate my son's new found love of all things mythical, I've dusting off this post from a few summers ago and added new scans and commentary. Say hello again to the most fabulous of the most fabulous... D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths.

Remember, $3 flat rate shipping in the Continental US in my Etsy shop until Thanksgiving Day... so be sure and check it out! And if you are doing any Amazon shopping this holiday season, (like preordering a copy of my favorite blogger, Ward Jenkin's, Chicks Run Wild) please think of me and link through this site. Have a great one!


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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cranberry Thanksgiving

Cranberry Thanksgiving
Wende and Harry Devlin
~ Parents' Magazine Press, 1971

I never had any of the Cranberry books when I was little, though longtime readers will remember that How Fletcher Was Hatched and Old Black Witch! were two of my childhood favorites. Cranberry Thanksgiving was the first (and by far the best) in a series of Cranberry Port books the Devlins did in the 70s that also included Cranberry Christmas and Cranberry Mystery. A decade later they were followed up by Cranberry Autumn, Cranberry Birthday, Cranberry Easter, Cranberry Halloween, Cranberry Summer and Cranberry Valentine.

The plot here is silly, though slightly ominous, involving a cranberry bog and a sacred family recipe, and the illustrations feature some pretty interesting point-of-view angles... a slight departure from some of husband Harry's typical drawings. That one in particular of the girl peaking out from behind kitchen door absolutely kills me.

Maggie darted about like a black-stockinged bird, in search of wood for the fireplace. She and her grandmother lived at the edge of a lonely cranberry bog in New England, and the winds were cold at the edge of the sea. Today, Mr. Whiskers was helping Maggie with her chores and they soon had armfuls of firewood.

"Happy Thanksgiving Day, Mr. Whiskers." Maggie smiled at her friend.

That wasn't his real name of course. It was Uriah Peabody, but Maggie had called him Mr. Whiskers ever since she could remember. Maggie was very fond of Mr. Whispers. Her grandmother was not. "Too many whiskers and not enough soap," she often said to Maggie.

Ah, yes. When it seems as if someone is out to steal grandmother's coveted Cranberry Bread recipe, all signs point to Mr. Whisker's... though if children's literature has taught us one thing... it's never judge a book by it's cover. Copies can get a wee bit pricey, so call you local library now to see if they still have one to enjoy before the holiday. Or at the very least, take a look at the recipe scanned here from the back cover and have at it. Yum and yum.

Also by:
How Fletcher Was Hatched
Old Witch Rescues Halloween
Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon
Old Black Witch!
The Wonderful Tree House


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two more days...

I was going to post on a book today, but really, today... who gives a hoot about anything else? I'm officially declaring the beginning of the geek out... Who's with me?

I totally have my Won Won working.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Overhead the Sun

Overhead the Sun
Lines from Walt Whitman ~ Antonio Frasconi
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969

Admittedly, I wasn't much of a reader as a child. I loved children's books, but I was more of the make-believe play sort of girl. Probably too social and self-absorbed to fully appreciate the value of a good book. It wasn't until a high school English teacher introduced me to Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass that a book spoke to me directly. It was as if Walt had written it expressly for me.

When I found this "all ages" book in the children's poetry section of a library sale a few years back, I was thrilled not just by the fabulous Frasconi wood cuts, but that I'd found a way to engage my son in Whitman. Though not expecting him to find the same cosmic meaning in the words as I had, I do know that just about anyone can appreciate descriptions and cadence through language. And hopefully, a wee bit of cosmic energy will siphon down.

There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

That's the great thing about books.

They have a habit of finding you at exactly the right moment.


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Monday, November 15, 2010

Jimmy Has Lost His Cap, Where Can It Be?

Jimmy Has Lost His Cap, Where Can It Be?
Bruno Munari ~ World Publishing, 1945

Since I just gave this book away in a trade and since the always fabulous atelier pour enfants just blogged about it and since Monday is always a great day for everything, I figured, why not? No?

Bruno Munari was a much loved Italian designer who dabbled in children's books, creating wonderful eye candy for wee ones (and their parents). One of my son's first book loves was the reprint of Bruno Munari's Zoo that still gets a ton of play with him even at almost six... though I enjoy the more abstract titles like From Afar It Is An Island. No matter.

Here we meet Jimmy, who has lost his cap, and you, the reader, are invited into a lift-the-flap search among everyday items which are in no way commonplace.

All of his books are playful and fun, and in every one, you will find the unexpected. I never, ever meet a Munari book without buying it. EVER.

Also by:
From Afar It Is An Island


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Great Monday Give: AH-CHOO Winner!

So, who is the winner of this week's Great Monday Give of Mercer Mayer's AH-CHOO, you ask? None other than My Love Is... from all the way down in Australia. Congrats and get me your info to webe(at)soon(dot)com and I'll send it out ASAP.

I'm skipping the give for the next few weeks due to the holidays, my friends. The next Great Monday Give will kick off on November 29, but be ready... The holiday gives are gonna be AWESOME!

Too, be sure and check out the Etsy shop where we will have $3 flat rate shipping in the Continental US until Thanksgiving. I have a great, hard-to-find copy of Peter Spier's Christmas up there as well as Snuggles, one of the Harry Whittier Frees Real Animal Books. Keep poking back in because leading up to the holidays I'm gonna be getting rid of some of our more choice titles. (And if you are planning on holiday shopping on Amazon, please do so here!)

Thanks for reading and see you back later today with a review.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tiffky Doofky

Tiffky Doofky
William Steig ~ Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1978

I happily paid $7 to a local bookstore recently to bring my William Steig collection closer to completion. And the investment did not disappoint. Seriously, if you want to raise a child who thinks outside of the box, start reading Steig's books to them early and often. My son's first Steig love was Spinky Sulks, and he never turns down a reread of Rotten Island, Zabajaba Jungle or Gorky Flies. They are among his favorites (and mine) because the stories never go in the direction you think they will. There's always a titillating, spooky element giving off an aura of certain doom, but in the end, those pure of heart always win. Steig's worldview was off just enough to make it wildly different, while still staying mired in the emotional threads that draw us all together. Such a fabulous storyteller. Completely genuine.

That said, meet Tiffky, a garbage-collecting dog with a romantic side.

At Madam Tarsal's place, adding her trash to her truck, he made up his mind to get his fortune told. On such a day, something out of the ordinary was bound to happen, and he had to know what it was going to be.

When the Madam foretells that on this very day, before the sun goes down, Tiffky shall meet the woman he is going to marry (ala Shrek!), it sets off a series of events both magical and completely unhinged. In pure Steig style, there's a witch who's out to cause some trouble as well as time-altering mind trickery that takes the reader on the wild ride of never knowing what's real and what's not. SUCH A GREAT BOOK. Really, Steig's one of those people that you'd want to invite to a dream dinner party with people like Gandhi and Cleopatra and John Lennon.

I positively love this man.

Also by:
The Amazing Bone
Amos & Boris
Rotten Island
Yellow & Pink
The Zabajaba Jungle
Gorky Rises
Father Palmer's Wagon Ride
Solomon the Rusty Nail


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Sesame Street Decorate-A-Tree Book

illustrated by Tom Herbert
Whitman, 1979

Crazy busy, but I will give you this today. A few weeks ago, the book bin at Goodwill gifted me with a mint and unused Sesame Street punch-out, craft book from my youth. I think the Grover star goes up on my mom's tree every year even now. Will try to be back tomorrow with a full review, but in the meantime... Christmas is coming... the goose is getting fat... Prairie Dawn's an angel and Big Bird's hefting Santa's pack.

Other Old Sesame Street Titles:
Sherlock Hemlock and the Great Twiddlebug Mystery
Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum
The In and Out and All About Sesame Street Coloring Book
The Together Book
The Many Faces of Ernie
The Great Cookie Thief
Sesame Street 1,2,3 Story Book
The Amazing Mumford and His Amazing Subtracting Trick
The Sesame Street Bedtime Storybook
The Pecan Tree


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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Magic Flute

The Magic Flute
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ~ Emanuelle Luzzati
Scroll Press, 1973

I was hesitant to post on this book at first as Michael Sporn Animation (purveyors of amazing children's book animation) has done a fabulous job over the last few years chronicling Luzzati's films and books on their blog (like this one and Punch and the Magic Fish). There's not really much I could say here that hasn't already been said about the opera designer and animator, but after I found Hurly Burly and the Knights last year, I became somewhat fascinated by the man's work. I remain nothing more than a distant observer and lover of his creations, but I will say this... Anyone who takes the work of opera and music and animates it and ultimately makes it accessible to children to OK by me. Here, we have a reworking of the animated version he created with Giulio Gianini, and I don't think I have to tell you how awesome the illustrations are. See for yourself...

Oh yeah, the language is pretty swank, too.

At last the young lovers had won happiness, and Sarasto and his priests welcomed them to true wisdom in his temple where they were enthroned in glory. The queen of the night could do nothing to stop their happiness, and she and all her wicked servents where sent howling away into outer darkness.

Mozart would've been proud. Trust me. Only people who go to library sales can score wonders like these for a mere 50 cents. So please, get out and seek these treasures for yourself. (Just not in the greater San Antonio area ;p.) Love them and read them and share them and pass them on to the people you care about. And see Michael Sporn's "sblog" for scans of the full book and some great takes on the man, Gianini and their work together.

Also by:
Hurly Burly and the Knights


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Monday, November 8, 2010

Der Hase und die Schildkröte

The Hare and the Tortoise
Brian Wildsmith ~ Atlantis, 1966

Picked up a few things at a library sale over the weekend including a handful of Brian Wildsmith titles in German. I have to assume this is at least somewhat akin to the traditional tortoise and the hare story, but if you are really dying to know, it seems to still be available in English. I, for one, am just going to enjoy looking at the pictures. So much color and personality. Yum!

Also by:
A Child's Garden of Verses
Professor Noah's Spaceship
Maurice Maeterlinck's Blue Bird
Brian Wildsmith's Birds


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