Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Romper Room Do Bee Book of Manners

The Romper Room Do Bee Book of Manners
Nancy Claster ~ Art Seiden ~ Wonder Books, 1960

My son has been an absolute terror since Christmas. It's like turning six made him instantly disrespectful and contrary. Talking back. Name calling. Doing the exact opposite of what I ask. We had a family meeting upon returning from vacation, and I realized I've been lax in my milestone observations. Little did I know that six is when children spread their wings and test boundaries more consistently.

I've instituted some new house rules and am trying to alter my own behavior so as to not make the problem worse, and over the last few days, it seems to be working. Making this resource as helpful as it is charmingly retro.

For those of us old enough to remember Romper, you will recall the giant bumble bee named Do-Bee that delighted young viewers with his lessons in being awesome. Those sentiments still hold true today, so I'm hoping it will sink in with the boy.

This is a Do Bee. He's a cheerful, smiling fellow. This is a grouchy old Don't Be. He's never very happy. My name is Bobby. I try very hard all day to be a Do Bee. That means I try to be polite, and helpful, and cheerful, from morning till night.

Ah, we should all "bee" so lucky to have a Bobby in our lives. But sometimes, we have to love our children unconditionally, no matter how big a jerk they are being.

Seven is only ten months away, right?

Also by:
Tooters, Tweeters, Strings and Beaters
Counting Rhymes


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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls

Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls
William Cole ~ Tomi Ungerer ~ Philomel Books, 1964

I've had this book for a while, but in crummy form, so I was psyched to score a nearly mint copy in a used bookshop in Chapel Hill. Since we've been crazed with Tomi of late, it was especially fun to come across the upgrade. (I was also finally able to replace our nearly wretched paperback copy of Spinky Sulks with a dustjacketed hardcover, but that's for another day.)

Collected by anthologist Coleman, here we find a Puckish amassing of poems about mischievous children from the likes of Nash, Housman, Hughes, Riley, Silverstein, Milne and more. Opening with a wonderful rhyming forward, Coleman sets the stage for the devilish ditties inside.

Most of these poems and illustrations
Are very much ex-ag-ger-a-tions;
Meaning that no one would ever do
Such wicked and horrid things...would you?
Of course you wouldn't...but listen...look...
If ever you do -- Don't Blame This Book!

Nothing To Do?
Nothing to do?
Nothing to do? Put some mustard in your shoe,
Fill your pockets full of soot,
Drive a nail into your food,
Put some sugar in your hair,
Place your toys upon the stair,
Smear some jelly on the latch,
Eat some mud and strike a match,
Draw a picture on the wall,
Roll some marbles down the hall,
Pour some ink in daddy's cap
Now go upstairs and take a nap.
~ Shel Silverstein

Table Manners
The Goops they lick their fingers,
And the Goops they lick their knives;
They spill their broth on the table-cloth;
Oh, they live untidy lives.
The Goops they talk while eating,
And loud and fast they chew,
So that is why I am glad that I
Am not a Goop. Are you?
~ Glett Burgess

The Dutchess' Lullaby
Speak roughly to your little boy
And beat him when he sneezes;
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows he teases.
~ Lewis Carroll

All collected here as one, it reminds me a bit of Dahl's Dirty Beasts. Of course here, Ungerer it the perfect cohort for this doggerel verse, and his line drawings are as simple as they are fittingly drab and sublime. Honestly, I can never seem to get enough. I like to think that he has some cosmic line directly into my son's sense of humor, but in reality, I imagine Tomi does that for most children. All peas in the same pod.

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


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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teaser and the Firecat

Teaser and the Firecat
Cat Stevens ~ Bernard Jacobson, 1972

I was in elementary school when I first saw Harold and Maude, via VHS on a machine rented from the video store. (Remember those days? Bringing the machine home in its heavy plastic case and trying to figure out how to hook it up to the TV? Ha! My sisters and I would rent a movie and watch it over and over until it was time to return the machine. That's how we saw The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension nine times in a weekend. I can still, to this day, quote line after line of the dialogue. Home is where you hanga your hata... Hey, hey, hey, hey-now. Don't be mean; we don't have to be mean, cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are... Sealed with a curse as sharp as a knife. Doomed is your soul and damned is your life... but I digress, as usual.)

I saw Harold and Maude at an age when I was hugely impressionable and just starting to question and explore the world. The film had a profound impact on me, and quickly became one of my all-time favorites (greatest love story EVER told), filled with the sounds that what would eventually become the soundtrack of my young adulthood. Just thinking about that movie and those songs will give me goosebumps and misty-eyes into tomorrow. Soooo, you can imagine my delight when I stumbled across this book, written and illustrated by Cat Stevens, based on the characters from the cover of his classic album by the same name.

Man, do I wish I knew how this book came about, if it was created in conjunction with the album or was merely born from it. Told in English, Spanish and French, we meet the top-hatted boy, Teaser and his Firecat as they discover a moon, fallen from the sky.

THUMP! The noise made Teaser jump.

"Look at that! Quick, follow me, Firecat."

The fallen moon was stuck in the roof of an old deserted barn.

The two have a spirited little adventure while attempting to put the moon back it its rightful place. Primitively drawn and told, it's still a dear, sweet book that I'm happy fell into my lap.

Yusuf Islam (or the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens and/or man formerly known as Steven Demetre Georgiou) will always hold a dear place in my heart for soothing me through countless heartbreaks and for being so pivotal in those teen years when I was desperate to find myself and understand the reason for it all. Bravo, my friend.


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Monday, June 27, 2011

Great Monday Give: Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor

Amazingly, I spent two weeks away from home and managed to only make it to two book sales. Regardless, I scored a few choice finds that I'll share with you this week. (Plus, I'll try and get to some of the guest posts I've been sitting on.)

One awesome find was a copy of Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor... for 25 cents, in better condition than our old one. To celebrate, I'll be giving away our other copy. It's not in primo shape... taped in places with library stamps throughout... but it's a great copy to have if you have none already. I took the opportunity this morning to update the old 2008 review with all new scans, so take look even if you've read it already.

To be entered to win this hardcover, reprint copy of the cult classic, comment on this post between now and Sunday, July 10 at 11:59 PM. A winner will be selected at random and announced the next day.

That's it for now. It's great to be back!


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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Alexander and the Magic Mouse

The boy and I left my husband at home and fled to Virginia to visit my mother. My Internet access has been almost nonexistent, and I soooo wanted to try and get some of the guest posts I have accumulated up. Like this one from reader, Julie. She's forty and fabulous and lives in Paris where she's a photographer and a mum. You can read Julie's blog here. Welcome her and have a great one all! I'll be back with a vengeance on Monday...

Alexander and the Magic Mouse
Martha Sanders ~ Philippe Fix
American Heritage Press, 1969, by

I come from a family of true bookworms. My mum was kind of into that business, and my parents bought many many books for me, my brother and my sister. They taught us to take extremely great care of them, and in turn, we read a lot when we were kids. Every year around November, we would receive from a colleague of my mum what you called then in France a "Bon Libraire". It's a paper with a stamp of a bookshop, proving you sell books, so you can go to the SFL (La Société Française du Livre) to buy books at a discounted price. It's a kind of wholesaler where you can buy any amount of any book. All the French booksellers shop there or order their books from there.

For us, it was paradise. Imagine a huge old warehouse in the center of Paris loaded with many stairs and basement floors, with piles and piles of books and shelves everywhere, organized by editors and themes. You could very easily get lost there. As soon as my mum would find the Bon Libraire in the mailbox, we would get excited. We'd spend half a day there, the five of us, cause my dad is a great reader too. We weren't really owners of a bookshop or anything, so it was a nice thing for this friend of my mum to do for us. We new the invitations would stop at anytime, so we really cherished it.

The best thing is that we could spend so much time just reading there. They had more books than the library or any big shop you can think of. And the best of it is that my folks each time said, no limit. You can buy AS MANY books as you want. We had carts filled with books, like at the supermarket, and that lasted for years. We were so lucky!

So, now that I am a mum myself, I spend a lot on books. I go to normal bookshops, but also garage sales, flea markets, and often I track down books on Amazon that I cherished as a child, for my own kids. Like this one, Alexander and the Magic Mouse.

The book tells the extraordinary story of an old friendly woman living in a house on a hill with her animal friends; a cat, a magical mouse, an alligator from China, and a yak. At the foot of the hill, there is a river and a town. One afternoon the tiny mouse has a vision and sees that it is going to rain for thirty days and thirty nights.

The books tells the long, delightful and very poetic story of this storm. Philippe Fix's drawing are extremely dreamy, beautiful, and all the characters of the album are very attaching. We read the books a million times when we were kids, and my three children enjoy it very much, too. It was a very special moment when I found it online, and I was very moved when it arrived home and when I translated it to the kids. My parents still have our original French copy at the seaside, and, of course, it's still intact!


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Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Sister Comes Through

The second best thing to being there is having your AWESOME sister spend the better part of her Saturday morning getting you the best early birthday present, ever. She hit the Phaidon store in NYC today to meet Tomi Ungerer and get some books signed for me (and the boy), and even met a blog reader in the line. My sister knew little about Tomi when she woke up this morning, but now she's smitten.

Seriously, who wouldn't be? During the presentation portion, she said Tomi was really playing and laughing and mixing up talking with stories and drawing tricks.

These are her short notes from the front, accompanied by snapshots....

He was telling all kinds of stories. If you can see in this one, he has his coat over his head and was telling a story to the kids sitting on the ground. Saying that they were going to get germs from sitting on the ground. And then it turned into a scary story about how all the germs were going to multiply and come and get them. His hands are crooked, like the germs are coming to GET them. All the kids were shrieking.

In this picture, if you can see the two dots on his left hand by his thumb-- they were the eyes he drew on for a hand puppet trick for the kids. He was doing all kinds of drawing tricks and at one point a woman passed a pair of scissors through the crowd so he could cut out a drawing for a child in a demonstration.

...and a picture of what is now inside inside said birthday present.

Maybe turning 39 won't be so bad after all!

What a happy day... Thanks Weez. You are the best sister in the world!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Short, Sort Of, Hiatus

Hey, all. I keep thinking I'll be able to get to a review today, but it is NOT happening. Just wanted to let you know I'll be MIA for a few weeks, soaking in summer. You might hear from me every now and again, but I'll be back daily on June 27th, along with The Great Monday Give. If anyone has any guest posts they've been sitting on, I'd love to run them while I'm getting some R&R, so send them along. See you soon!

Tomi in MA!

I was also informed of a show opening at the world-famous The Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts called: Tomi Ungerer, Chronicler of the Absurd, running June 18 - October 9, 2011.

Tomi himself will be there on June 18th for the exhibition opening and June 19th for a book signing and personal gallery tour. This exhibition celebrates Ungerer’s 80th birth year. A trilingual author, Ungerer has published over 140 books ranging from his much loved children’s books to his controversial adult work.

Ungerer’s career, like contemporaries Leo Lionni and Eric Carle, was multi-faceted, encompassing advertising and political commentary. Prior to leaving America, Ungerer arranged for the Free Library of Philadelphia to acquire a substantial portion of his work up until that point.

Selected from archives and private collections, the exhibition documents the bulk of Ungerer’s career as a writer and illustrator of children’s books. Included in the exhibition, among others, will be examples from Ungerer’s first book, The Mellops Go Flying (1957), as well as The Three Robbers (1962), Flat Stanley (1964), and Moon Man (1967).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Stop

The Stop
William Wondriska ~ Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972

Anyone familiar with the newly reissued A Long Piece of String and the design favorite PUFF, will appreciate it when I say that, according to the dust jacket, Mr. Wondriska and his editors considered this one to be his finest work. The artist had "a particular affection for the magnificence of Monument Valley", an area in Utah that features unique sandstone formations, and the admiration is apparent in these beautiful paintings.

The boys were going home. Camping together for the last three days had been fun, but it was good to be going. Only one more night; tomorrow they would be home. It seemed like they had been gone a long time. Suddenly something moved ahead of them. They stopped. Off the trail, lying in the brush, was a large shape. It was their father's new colt. He had hurt his leg and could not walk.

When the older brother leaves the young brother to seek help, the boy truly experiences the beauty of the valley. A lightning storm. A rainbow. Wolves. A warm night fire. The stars. The illustrations show different variations of the same vista, while the main characters play like ants on a tiny stage. The natural colors of the desert shift in a constant swirl with the passing of the minutes, while the echoes of the unreal dance around every corner. Ultimately, the small boy must search deep within himself to find the will to be unafraid.

A lovely story filled with the mystery of being alone.

Also by:
A Long Piece of String


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Tomi Ungerer Hits New York

This is one of those days when I can't believe I am not in New York. Tomi Ungerer is going to be all over the island this week, and the person who gets me an autographed copy of any of his books will win my eternal and undying love for ever and ever. Seriously! Pretty please. And I am totally, NOT kidding.

An Evening with Tomi Ungerer and Jules Feiffer
Wednesday, June 09, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
This once in a lifetime event pairs up two award-winning, iconic illustrators as they reflect and discuss their careers, art, and works in children’s literature. OMG!!!!!

Signing @ The Drawing Center
Saturday, June 11, 12:30 - 2:00
Join Phaidon Press and The Drawing Center for a special book signing with Tomi Ungerer, the award-winning author and illustrator of international best-seller The Three Robbers!

Signing @ Books of Wonder
Saturday, June 11 · 4:00pm - 7:00pm

Seriously, anyone willing to get out there and score a book for me will get a super special surprise, plus good karma for life!

(If you're in Philly, he'll be there Tuesday the 14th @ the Parkway Central Library @ 7pm.)


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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Professor Wormbog's Gloomy Kerploppus

Professor Wormbog's Gloomy Kerploppus
Mercer Mayer ~ Golden Books, 1977

As I was born during the era of the "scratch & sniff" book, they all hold a certain nostalgia for me. Even though each scratch scent was unique, they all carried the same undertone. So much so, that even today, I can differentiate a "scratch & sniff" smell from a regular smell, instantly. The "Golden Scratch & Sniff" books were popular during their time, a favorite being Bambi's Fragrant Forest which was given to me by my father the first birthday after my parent's were divorced, no doubt purchased in an airport gift shop. Man, do the smells in that book take me back.

But that's neither here nor there... Mercer Mayer being the Golden boy and fad-catcher that he was, hopped on the fragrant train with this Book of Great Smells starring the notorious Professor Wormbog. Sadly, my copy is missing the first page and the last, so I can't tell you how it begins or ends. Only what it smells like in the middle.

When the Prof's Kerploppus gets gloomy...

"Oh dear," thought the professor. "I had better call Doctor Windbag. Surely he will know what to do. After all, he is a doctor."

Doctor Windbag was just fixing himself a cucumber sandwich when the professor called. He put the sandwich in his hat and rushed right over.

"Oh, my, yes," said the doctor. "Your Kerploppus certainly does look gloomy. The best thing to do is bathe him in fresh cucumber juice. Call me if he doesn't seem better."

After a slew of failed remedies and after scratching and sniffing some cucumbers, paint and coconuts, you are fully aware that you are smack dab in the middle of a Mayer book. And when a x-ray shows it's actually a boot the Kerploppus swallowed that is causing the woe, you wanna slap yourself silly for not noticing the Prof's been missing one shoe the entire time. Ha!

Not the best of the Mayer bunch, but what do you expect in Smell-D? A must-have for the Mayer fan, none-the-less.

Also by:
Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp
One Monster After Another
Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-A-Zoo
Me and My Flying Machine
Beauty and the Beast
A Special Trick
Bubble Bubble
One Frog Too Many
How the Trollusk Got His Hat
Little Monster at Work
The Bird of Time
Herbert the Timid Dragon


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Monday, June 6, 2011

The Moon Singer

The Moon Singer
Clyde Robert Bulla ~ Trina Hyman
Thomas Y. Crowell, 1969

Long ago, in a far country, there lived a miller and his wife. One day a woman came to the mill, leading a child by the hand.

"Take this boy," she said. "I can no longer care for him."

"Another mouth to feed? Oh, no," said the miller.

"Then," said the woman, "at least give us a place to rest tonight."

The miller gave them a bed of straw in the mill shed.
In the morning the woman was gone. The child was left behind.

So begins the tale of a strange, distractable boy who loves to sing to the moon. Singing late in the woods, deep into the night, he hides from the miller who does not like his voice, and becomes a secret joy for all the nearby villagers to eavesdrop upon. When the queen hears of the boy's vocal talents, she summons for him, but in the confides of her chambers, the boy finds he has no voice and is cast out.

Later, when the queen hears that the boy has begun singing in the forest again, she goes to hear him and realizes his place is in the woods, in the night, alone, and that is when the music comes to him. So she sneaks, that night and many nights after, to secretly listen to him sing.

A magical take on inner beauty, and the wonderful talents we keep to ourselves.

Also by:
How Six Found Christmas
King Stork


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