Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What It Feels Like To Be a Building

What It Feels Like To Be a Building
Forrest Wilson ~ Doubleday & Co., 1969

Boy, do I love school libraries! Now that we've settled into the routine of week two, I can update you a bit on the awesomeness of my son's new library. It's beautiful, and the amazing staff there do a great job keeping it running and organized and relevant. This being my second week of volunteering, a three hour and 45 minute shift yesterday proved the place to be the activity hub of the school. Nothing is more inspiring than seeing children with books... talking about books, selecting books, READING books. The principal comes in and out. The teachers buzz through. Hardly seems like work at all. Makes me wish I could go back and get a library science degree. But anyways, I digress.

Wanted to share a gem with you readers who love design and architecture and the like. Forrest Wilson has been as a laborer, a journeyman carpenter, a construction superintendent, a professor and adviser of architecture at Pratt/Parsons/Ohio U./Catholic U., the editor of Progressive Architecture, as well as a father. I believe this and Bridges Go From Here To There were his only books for children but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Not sure if his cut and paste oddity Build Your Own Moon Settlement is meant for children or just grownups with an awesome sense of imagination... I can't even ascertain online whether the man is still alive, but one thing is for sure. If you ever wanted to know what it feels like to be a building, you've come to the right place. From the intro...

Architecture can be understood by everyone. You can feel gravity, therefore you can begin to feel architecture. Buildings experience the same stresses and strains of gravity that man does himself. For this reason, it is possible to translate the basis laws of building into physical feeling.

for example...

or this...

Unusual drawings that explain how the column, beam, buttress and arch work. A great way to start a conversation with your child about the buildings that surround us and how they are created... all in a stylized package, wonderfully-evocative of the era when design and children's books met.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Cluck

The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Cluck
Nathaniel Benchley ~ Arnold Lobel ~ Harper & Row, 1967

Perhaps even more amazing than the I Can Read and I Can Read Science sets is the I Can Read Mystery series. Lots of these were written by the awesome Nathaniel (son of Robert, the Algonquin Round Table humorist and father of Peter, the creator of JAWS), and still hold up rather well. However, most famous in the series are the beloved Big Max books penned by Kin Platt and illustrated by Robert Lopshire. But back to Cluck...

Arthur Cluck was a very young chicken. His mother, Mrs. Cluck, loved him dearly. She did everything she could to make him happy. She even let him ride on her head, which is unusual for a chicken. One morning she awoke and started to get breakfast and found to her horror that Arthur was gone!

Ah, yes... The story of a little chick who goes missing and the owl who saves the day. Good stuff, friends, brought to impeccable life by the sweet strokes of Mr. Lobel's hand. Perfect for little minds that enjoy figuring things out.

Any "I Can Read" anything is 6 X 8 1/2 inches of pure joy, and Lobel's endearing illustrations always add to the awesome. Bock, bock!

Also by:
The Terrible Tiger
Red Tag Comes Back
The Ice-Cream Cone Coot
Oscar Otter
The Star Thief
Mouse Tales
Prince Bertram the Bad
The Secret Three
Benny's Animals
Miss Suzy
Martha the Movie Mouse
Terry and the Caterpillars
A Ghost Named Fred


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Monday, August 29, 2011

Great Monday Give: Mystery Give Extended.

Welcome to another scorching Monday. It was 110 degrees here in Texas, yesterday. Only one degree lower than the all-time high in San Antonio of 111.


To celebrate the hotness (and the fact that I had the date written all screwy), I'm going to extend last week's give another week AND bump the number of books up to FIVE in the mystery package of awesome, sooooo...

The Great Monday Give is a surprise goody bag of at least FIVE vintage books, maybe more. I can't tell you what the books will be, except that they will be awesome! To be entered to win this mystery package of awesome, all you have to do is click HERE and comment on that post between now and Sunday, September 4 at 11:59 PM. A winner will be selected at random and announced the following day.

Remember, click HERE and comment to enter to win.

Time for a cold shower and an iced tea.


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Friday, August 26, 2011

Update Friday: The Moon Jumpers

Update Friday is here!!!

The day where I take old posts (way back when I would only feature one or two pictures) and make them new again with updated scans and commentary. Just realized one of my favorite Sendak-illustrated books had a rather lame post with icky pics... so please welcome a post from August 2007, updated and pretty for your viewing pleasure, The Moon Jumpers by Udry and Sendak.


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Socks for Supper

Socks for Supper
Jack Kent ~ Parents' Magazine Press, 1978

Haven't featured Jack Kent since February, and as those who've read here for a while know, he's a hometown boy and one of my faves. Can never EVER have enough Kent.

The colors. The lines. The slapstick fun.

Always a good time to be had in his pages. Here, we have a somewhat-Christmas story. It's a wee bit like The Gift of the Mag, but with way more piss and vinegar.

In a faraway place in a long-ago time there lived an old man and his wife. They were very poor. All they had was a tumble-down house and a tiny turnip garden.

One day, he said to his wife, "One can get tired of eating nothing but turnips."

Truer words have never been spoken. When the two get a hankering for the milk -- and ultimately, the cheese products -- produced by a cow down the lane, they, quite literally, sell the shirts off their backs to get some. Just when the man thinks he might spend the winter in his half-birthday suit, the miracle of re-gifting occurs and all is right with the world.

Love love love love all things Jack Kent, including this book and the very air the man breathed.


Also by:
Jack Kent's Twelve Days of Christmas
I Was Walking Down the Road
The Grown-Up Day
The Fox and the Crow
The Biggest Shadow in the Zoo
The Animobile Book
Jack Kent's Book of Nursery Tales
Dooly and the Snortsnoot
Mr. Meebles
Cindy Lou and the Witch's Dog
The Blah
Jack Kent's Valentine Sticker Book
The Bremen-town Musicians
Round Robin
Just Only John
Fly Away Home
Fat Cat
Piggy Bank Gonzales


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Father Palmer's Wagon Ride

Farmer Palmer's Wagon Ride
William Steig ~ Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974

Nothing like Steig on a Wednesday. Surprisingly absent of anything otherworldly (that is if you don't count talking pigs as otherworldly), here we have the story of a pig and his donkey just trying to find their way home.

After leaving the market where he peddled leeks, turnips and lettuce, Farmer Palmer splurges on gifts for his family (and donkey, Ebenezer), only to find that the way forward is often easier than the way back. First, the storm...

In a while the road roughened and went through the woods. As the wagon hobbled over the bumps, black clouds assembled and cast the earth in shadow. Harum-scarum gusts of wind turned the leaves this way and that. Then the rain they had hoped for came, with scattered drops as big as acorns slapping down, followed by a drubbing deluge.

The road's dust disappeared and the world swam in water. Thunder rumbled, and rambled around in the distance. Then it came frightfully close. It dramberamberoomed.


A jagged knife of lightning slashed through a tree. Ebenezer and the farmer, gawking up, saw the tree descending on them and they were petrified with terror.

Both realized they would rather not die at that particular time.

Luxuriate in these awesome words for a few, will ya? Pure magic. Such a talent for spinning tales that man had. The two eventually do make it home, but not before a medley of travesties and minor hock wounds. Edge of your seat suspense and fun. Two hooves up!

Also by:
The Amazing Bone
Amos & Boris
Rotten Island
Yellow & Pink
The Zabajaba Jungle
Gorky Rises
Tiffky Doofky
Solomon the Rusty Nail


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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Favorite Tales of Monsters and Trolls

Favorite Tales of Monsters and Trolls
George Jonsen ~ John O'Brien ~ Random House, 1977

Sounds exactly like what it is...

The Stone Cheese
There was once an old man who lived with his three sons in a small wooden house at the edge of a forest. The nights were growing long and cold, so one morning the old man asked his eldest son to go into the woods and chop down a tree for firewood.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Once upon a time there were three billy goats named Gruff who lived together on the mountainside. There was not much to eat in their rocky pasture, but they could see a field of sweet green grass just across a deep valley.

The Trolls and the Pussy Cat
There was once a hunter in the far north who caught a bear the like of which he had never seen before. This bear was so white and so big and so tame that the hunter decided to give him to the King of Denmark as a Christmas present.

All three tales see the outwitting of some ghastly creature, drawn by O'Brien, the famed New Yorker cartoonist and children's book illustrator. Scary, spooky fun.

Halloween's just around the corner, right?


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Monday, August 22, 2011

Great Monday Give: Mystery Package of Awesome

Hey everyone! Welcome to Monday! (I know it is technically Tuesday, but yesterday was the first day of school and crazy crazy crazy, so for my sake, will you just pretend today is Monday? I even dated it as such to cut down on confusion. Sooo....)

Better than Monday, welcome to the return of the Great Monday Give! Today's give will be a surprise goody bag of at least three vintage books, maybe more. I can't tell you what the books will be, except that they will be awesome! To be entered to win this mystery package of awesome, all you have to do is comment on this post between now and Sunday, September 4 at 11:59 PM. A winner will be selected at random and announced the following day.

Good luck and godspeed to all the little school-aged children of the world!

(Photo above from... The Red Balloon.)


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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pool, Drool, Duel, Mule, School

Sorry, I've been MIA folks, but in this week leading up to school starting, we've been going crazy, Broadway-style.

I'll see you guys in a few days with a Great Monday Give...

First grade, here we come!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book

Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book
Shel Silverstein ~ Simon & Schuster, 1961

Though not technically a children's title, my son reads this book all the time. I've been thinking about it a lot lately as I'm reading the biography A Boy Named Shel. Which is awesome, by the way. Such an interesting man who led an incredible life. But anyways...

I received Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book as a present when I was a senior in high school from my counselor and friend, an Episcopal priest everyone just called Pope. He was an activist and a teacher and an all around inspiration... a man who was just left of ordinary, so to have received it from him was apropos.I won't quote from the book as the scans speak for themselves, so you'll get the gist. (I wish I could just scan the whole darn thing, every page is more awesome than the one before it!)
Written decades before the current wunder-book Go the F*ck to Sleep, the tongue and cheek humor here finds ways for children to make their parents insane, all the while laughing and giggling at the absurdity of adolence, parenthood and life itself.

Words and pictures that reflect a man who lived life out loud and was hugely successful just being himself. Every artist's dream, no? Shel was able to make us laugh, cry and even get grossed out, often all in the same breath.

If you have an extra five minutes today, watch this little bit of history. After reading his bio, Shel would definitely receive an invite to my dream dinner party. (He could sit between Jim Henson and Jimmy Carter!)

Also by:
A Giraffe and a Half
Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back


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Friday, August 12, 2011

Update Friday: Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm

A week to go before school starts, and today, we receive class assignments in the mail. YAY! I remember going to first grade. The feel of the new cardboard pencil box in my hand, those kind they used to sell sort of like cigar boxes. I think it had Snoopy on it. How slow breakfast seemed to drag that morning. The anticipation.


Good times.

Anyways, we're excited and dragging this morning, so I'll only give you an update.

Today's Update Friday is Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm by the Provensens, updated from a post back in '07. Have a great one!


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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fairy Tales and Fables

Fairy Tales and Fables
Gyo Fujikawa ~ Grosset & Dunlap, 1970

Since we're talking Gyo this week, I'll share this one, too. My son's best friend has an older sister who often suggests books for them to read, and the current obsession via big sis is The Sister's Grimm series. You guys know we're audio book nuts in this house, so if the boy hasn't been obsessively listening to The Graveyard Book over and over, we've been following the tales of sisters Sabrina and Daphne as they become fairy tale detectives.

While listening, I'm often having to go back and find original fairy tale stories to help fill in the make-believe background that my son might be unfamiliar with.

Giant storybooks like this usually do the trick.

All the favorites are here. Red. Cinderella. Three Pigs. Jack. Midas. Goldilocks. The lady who gets a sausage stuck to her nose. 50 stories in all, lovingly illustrated by sweet Gyo.

...from The Three Wishes

Soon the man lost his patience and exclaimed, "I am tired of hearing about sausage! I am tired of hearing you speak! I wish that the sausage were stuck to your nose!"

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the sausage was hanging at the end of his wife's nose.

"Now see what you've done!" cried the wife. "You have wasted another wish by your foolish tongue! And she tried desperately to remove the sausage from the end of her nose, but it would not come off.

There's all kinds of yum in this book, which intersperses black and white ink drawings with full color paintings. Gyo was American-born of Japanese descent and though she passed in 1998, many of her books are still available, including this one that was reprinted in 2008 by Sterling. And, of course, vintage copies abound!

Also by:
A Child's Garden of Verses
A Child's Book of Poems
Let's Grow a Garden
Baby Animals
Oh, What a Busy Day!
Our Best Friends
Come Follow me


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