Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Witch's Christmas

The Witch's Christmas
Norman Bridwell ~ Scholastic, 1970

OK... now I really am outta here. See you kids on January 3rd.

But before I go....

Here's a few Christmas thoughts and images from Clifford creator, Norman Bridwell...

When you have a witch for a friend,
Christmas is very special too.
When Christmas is near and it begins to snow,
our witch has a very special snow at her house --
and a very special snowman.

Merry Christmas everyone. And if you didn't catch it this morning, Diane Rehm did a great piece on How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Check it out, here!

Also by:
A Tiny Family


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Peter Spier's Little Bible Storybooks

Peter Spier's Little Bible Storybooks
retold by Peter Seymour
pictures by Peter Spier ~ Doubleday, 1983

Since I'm not overly religious but still love me some Peter Spier, I thought it the perfect season to trot out this miniature medley of awesome. You know how I love wee little boxed sets, and this one is no exception. Peter's detailed drawings work perfectly here in a trio of tiny paperback, accordion-style books that have a delicate diorama feature in the back.

Retelling three of the most famous bible stories (Jonah, The Creation and Noah), I chose to photograph only the ark here as that's one of my animal-loving son's favorite stories, and we're particularly fond of Spier's full-length version. Though I will say, the diorama of Jonah getting gulped by the whale is pretty outstanding.

You'll just have to wait and see that one for yourself. Have a great one.

Also by:
The Fox Went Out On a Chilly Evening
The Star-Spangled Banner
Noah's Ark
Peter Spier's Christmas
Gobble Growl Grunt
Bored -- Nothing To Do!


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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Great Song Book

The Great Song Book
edited by Timothy John
music edited by Peter Hankey
illustrated by Tomi Ungerer
Ernest Benn, 1975
originally published by Diogenes Verlag as Das Grosse Liederbuch

No Great Monday Give today, but Santa Claus is Coming to Town on classic VHS has won me a few moments at the computer. I thought I'd share this book since it's getting gifted in about 24 hours. Who doesn't want Tomi Ungerer for Christmas, no? The pages house a collection of 60 traditional songs and ballads, all well and good, but interspersed are full-page plates and random Ungerer drawings illustrating the tunes. I am simply in love with these pictures. The topmost was taken from the Christmas Songs chapter, in which you can also see Mary lying down in the manger, glowing post-birth (in pure uncensored Tomi-style).

There's also Songs of Dance and Play, Fireside Songs, Folk Songs and more. Goosey, Goosey Gander... John Peel... Clementine... The Ash Grove... and my all-time favorite Christmas Song, Good King Wenceslas...

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shown the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gathering winter fuel.


Also by:
The Hat
Zarelda's Ogre
Seeds and More Seeds
The Three Robbers
Moon Man
Orlando The Brave Vulture
Christmas Eve at the Mellops'
I Am Papa Snap and These Are My Favorite No Such Stories
The Beast of Monsieur Racine
The Mellops Strike Oil
Book of Various Owls
No Kiss for Mother


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Friday, December 17, 2010

Update Friday: I Like Winter

I'm unsure of where I'll be next week or how much I'll actually be able to get done here with a Christmas-jacked kindergartener on the loose... so just in case I don't make it back at least once or twice next week... Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanza. Happy New Year. And all that jazz.

If you don't see me next week, know that'll I'll be on a brief hiatus until the New Year. January 3rd I'll be back with a new Great Monday Give and an exciting mystery interview with a beloved children's book illustrator. I actually did the interview last night and cried for an hour after hanging up, I was so moved by the conversation. I'm hoping to have it up that first week I'm back as well as an entire week of love for the artist in question. So be sure and return for a front row seat on the fun. (The first reader to guess and post here correctly who it's going to be will win an extra special something when the week arrives. Hint for you longtime readers: I have been known to do some crushing on this person.)

To leave you, here's an overdue Update Friday from a post I did back in '07. Lenski's I Like Winter with all new scans and color commentary. Enjoy!


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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas
Clement C. Moore ~ Corinne Malvern ~ Western Publishing, 1949

Now time for the obligatory The Night Before Christmas. This Malvern-illustrated version has come in countless incarnations with a medley of different covers, but here, I share my 1970s (?) edition. I particularly like the cover of this one I found on flickr, and I don't believe Ms. Malvern drew that illustration. Anyone? Anyone? Anywho.

The story of the peddler opening his pack never gets old for me no matter who's doing the drawing. I'm still hoping Santa will drop Fuji's on me someday. Hint, hint.

That said, a very red and round, old school jolly fat man here... a definite descendant of Thomas Nast's Harper's Weekly creation. I was really hoping to read the boy The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum this time around, but now my copy seems to be AWOL. Oh well, one more year of a visit from St. Nick doesn't phase me in the slightest. My favorite line...

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

Wow. Such a great line. Such a great poem. Cheers all.

Also by:
Christmas Nutshell Library ~ Hilary Knight version
The Night Before Christmas ~ Weisgard version
The Night Before Christmas ~ Charles Clement version


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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh, and by the way...

I love finding hidden signatures in books I thrift for $2.


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The First Christmas

The First Christmas
Robbie Trent ~ Marc Simont ~ Harper & Row, 1948

When you spend the morning with 17 kindergartners, painting 17 Christmas ornaments, wrapping 17 gifts for parents, and cleaning up 17 piles of scattered glitter, you don't have much more GO left.

That said, not to sell the Christ child short, but...This is Mary.

This is the donkey that Mary rode to Bethlehem.

This is Joseph who led the donkey that Mary rode.

And so on and so forth... Enjoy.

Also by:
The Philharmonic Gets Dressed
A Tree Is Nice
I Know a Magic House


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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Morris's Disappearing Bag

Morris's Disappearing Bag
Rosemary Wells ~ The Dial Press, 1975

It's hard to believe that Rosemary wrote and illustrated this book in 1975, only three years into a career that has proven to be one of the most longstanding and successful in contemporary children's picture booking. Her style and illustrations here are just as strong then as they are now... as if her bunny characters were born out of the womb in a state of perfection. Though she's gotten ever so slightly more lush over the years, there is no learning curve in these pictures... just pure Wells joy beaming forth.

And so, we meet the bunny Morris. The baby in a brood of four. Each one is gifted a unique present on Christmas morning, all seemingly more thrilling than the bear Morris receives.

No one will share their decidedly grown up gifts (a chemistry set, a hockey outfit, and a beauty kit), that is, until...

Morris sat under the Christmas tree. Suddenly he noticed a package that had been overlooked. He opened it. In it was a Disappearing Bag. Morris crawled right in.

The gift of invisibility is simply too hard to resist, and what started out as an awful holiday for our dear, little bunny becomes the best one yet. This book couldn't be more adorable or more wondrous. A sweet, sweet stocking stuffer for any little bunny who's ever felt like vanishing, even if just for a moment.

Also by:
Two Sisters and Some Hornets


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Monday, December 13, 2010

Great Holiday Give Winner

As this is the last give for the holidays, I've tried to make it a good one. I'm still collecting books for the Grab Bag 'O Fun, but so far, the above picture should give you an idea of some of what will be in it...

So, without further blah blah... the big winner is...


Congrats and if you get me your info ASAP--to webe(at)soon(dot)com--, I should be able to get it in the mail today.

The Great Monday Give (the day when we gift a great vintage book to one reader) will return on January 3rd, and in the meantime, I'll be doing reviews right into Christmas week, so stop by. Plus, everything in the Etsy shop is 20% off with the 20OFF coupon code from now until Christmas... with $3 flat rate shipping in the Continental US... and if you are shopping on Amazon this season (buying anything), link through us and we get a small kickback to use toward more books.

Have a great one!


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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Great Holiday Give: Last Call

Just a reminder that the Great Holiday Give ends at 11:59 tonight. Be sure and enter to win now! And everything in the Etsy shop is 20% off with the 20OFF coupon code from now until Christmas... with $3 flat rate shipping in the Continental US... and if you are shopping on Amazon this season (buying anything), link through us and we get a small kickback to use toward more books. Cause you can never have too many books, right!?!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Update Friday: Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree

Update Friday brings us back to a post I did the very first year I started this blog (my son was two... TWO) on one of my all time favorite Christmas books, Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. I've added all new scans and a wee bit of commentary for a book I think all kids should have in their holiday goodie bag.

Don't forget... everything in my Etsy shop is 20% off until Christmas if you use the code 20OFF at checkout! Plus, $3 flat rate shipping in the Continental US. Check it out. And the Great Holiday Give ends on Sunday, so if you haven't commented here yet, get with it!


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Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Mole Family's Christmas

The Mole Family's Christmas
Russell and Lillian Hoban
Parents' Magazine Press, 1969

Precursor to the Hoban's more famous Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas is this sweet ditty of a story about a family of moles who discover the magic of Christmas... or at least, that if you ask the jolly old fat man for some loot, he'll usually come through.

Harley Mole and his son Delver did straight mole work. They tunneled and they dug and they brought home the groceries. Harley and Delver wore overalls and thick boots and heavy work gloves. They wore thick glasses, because the whole Mole family was very nearsighted, and they had little lanterns in their caps, because they tunneled in the dark.

One occupational hazard of this kind of work is never coming to the surface to know what's going on in the rest of the world, so when little Delver comes up for a look around and meets a mouse who tells him about Christmas and Santa Claus and presents... and then he finds out there are things called stars that (due to his lousy eyesight) he can't see... Well, what's a little mole to do except build a chimney for Santa to come down and write him a letter asking for a telescope. No cut and dry story, there's a hungry owl in the mix and lots of good, honest hard work, but the ending has the whole Mole clan seeing stars.

The illustrations shine here in that classic Hoban way. Sharp little pencil strokes creating a ton of personality. Plus, those Coke bottle glasses kill me. Two candy canes up!

Also by:
Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas


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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Nutshell Library

Christmas Nutshell Library
boxed set of four miniature books
illustrated by Hilary Knight ~ Harper & Row, 1963

If you called me on the phone tonight and asked me what vintage book you should blow the big bucks on to gift someone for Christmas, hands down, without even the faintest shadow of a doubt, it would be Hilary Knight's Christmas Nutshell Library. A cousin to Sendak's classic Nutshell Library, this one has the distinct honor of being not only penned by the master illustrator of Eloise, but it's also so unbelievably soaked in adorable that once you have the lot in your hand, it's hard to imagine Christmas without them.

My son refers to them as "the cutest books in the whole world". So, so true.

Made up of four teenie, tiny wee darling books ~ A Christmas Stocking Story, A Firefly in a Fir Tree, The Night Before Christmas, and Angels & Berries & Candy Canes ~ the fact that these even exist in the world gives me hope about the goodness of mankind. Have yourself a hyperbole Christmas, why don't you?

Sadly, my collection is incomplete (I'm missing the box and the Angels book), so I am going to focus on my favorite of the three....

Happy band gay
as they could wish
lived Stork, Hippo,
Lion, and Fish.

Around a corner,
close and snug,
lived Elephant, Snake,
Fox and Bug.

These eight dear friends,
one wintertime,
told this silly
Christmas rhyme.

What follows is a Christmas mix-up of huggable proportions... wherein all the animals get their stockings switched in the wash and Santa gifts them all the wrong things. Really, these stories and books morph way beyond cute. Knight's iconic illustrations. The miniature size with the darling little dust jackets. Absolutely edible!

I had to nab pictures of the complete set off an EBay listing ... which by the way is a fine specimen and at $35 with a little more than 24 hours to go, so bid away!

Also by:
The Circus is Coming
Where's Wallace
Sunday Morning


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