Friday, September 30, 2011

Update Friday: Leopold, the See-Through Crumbpicker

Seeing as the last few Update Fridays have belonged to Mr. Flora, I figured I'd keep the ball rolling. Here, I update a post from September of '08 on his Leopold, the See-Through Crumbpicker.

All new scans and love, just for you.



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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Simple Prince

The Simple Prince
Jane Yolen ~ Jack Kent ~ Parents' Magazine Press, 1978

Nothing better than a 'grass is always greener' tale to wind down the week. Not to mention Jack Kent, who always puts me in a great mood.

Last night my husband went out for drinks after work, so left on our own, my son declared we should have a "movie and book fest".

After snuggling down, watching The Iron Giant and weeping profusely together, we settled in for the book portion which consisted of the two of us, with a pile of books in the middle, alternately reading aloud. On the menu, a few Piggie and Gerald books, a random Spanish board book, Monsters, Ralph's Secret Weapon, Rotten Island, and this little gem.

There once was a prince who longed to live a simple life. He was tired of idle foolishness and fancy dress balls. So he clapped his hands three times to call his servants. "Bring me some plain clothes," he demanded. "I am going out into the world to live the simple life."

And off he goes, to put upon a poor farmer and his wife to show him the simple life. The prince demands tea, but the farmer insists they need fire and water first to make it.

After the sawing and hauling and the inevitable milking of the cow, he still foolishly requests some bread, and the comedy continues until at last...

"Enough! Enough!" he cried, "I can live no more of the simple life. It is much too hard for me."

He's hauls butt back to his cushy palace, and learns to say please and thank you and appreciate all he has.

On Jane Yolen's Website, she includes anecdotal information about all her books which I find totally charming. About The Simple Prince...

The original story was (I thought) better written but I had to revise it downwards for the editor in order to make it fit into a line of easy-readers. An original tale about a prince who decides to live the simple life and discovers just how difficult that is. This book was written during the 1970s when a lot of hippies who had been brought up in cities decided to “go back to the land.” Few of them stayed there!


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
Socks for Supper


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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On my beach there are many pebbles

On My Beach There Are Many Pebbles
Leo Lionni ~ Astor, 1961

Still in print in paperback and different from his signature color and collage work, Leo's pebble book stands in a league of its own. Not only was Leo a true artist and design genius, but here we see that he was also a stellar draftsman creating a book that is part realism, part fantasy. Each page begging us to take another look, not just at a landscape as a whole, but at the individual components, as therein lies the mystery and beauty.

One my beach there are many pebbles
Most are ordinary pebbles
but some are strange and wonderful.

Fishpebbles and goosepebbles and peoplepebbles and letterpebbles, you could spent a thousand lifetimes turning over every rock and never repeat a shape or image. Exploring your imagination to animate even the most inanimate objects. The fine pencil lines and shapes that help form numbers and faces are lovely, while the sentiment is a pure and quiet, "look".

Leo was simply the best of the best. 40 children's books and more than 100 years since his birth, and his words and pictures still touch the artistic soul in all of us.

Also by:
Fish is Fish
Little Blue and Little Yellow
Tico and the Golden Wings
Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011


a text book reader with pictures by Trina Schart Hyman ~ Houghton Mifflin, 1971

At this point in my thrifting career, it's hard for me to come across anything that shocks me with nostalgia. Often, it seems like all my early childhood literary touchstones have been, well, touched. But every once in a while, I pick up a book and something magical happens. As was the case, here. I believe this is a school book, some sort of reader, but I know we had a copy at home. A thin volume, there are five stories that mix and match the same group of characters.

Jim's Going Fishing about a boy who wants to skip school to go fishing but ends up spending the morning with a friendly policeman who sets him straight. I Can't Smile about a girl embarrassed by her missing front teeth on picture day.

Fun with a Lion about lion hunting at the library. The Lion Gets Away where the lion hunt continues. And the one that most overwhelmed me with memories. Surprize Day at School.

Jan, what is in there?

It's a surprise. I'm going to take it to school. Today is surprise day at school.

What is your surprise?

It's a frog.

Is it a real frog? Can you take a real frog to school?

Today I can. I can take a frog on surprise day.

Simple, early reader stuff, but wow, talk about memory lane. That story was one I read over and over and over, and looking back now, the Trina Schart Hyman pictures are still totally rad. Full of 70s flavor, I love how the people and their gear are in full color, but the backgrounds are simple black line drawings.

The school district next to ours has a bond out now to fund e-readers for all the students in hopes of doing away with text books. If the program goes over well, I'm sure our district will follow suit. Odds are, my son will never touch a single text book. It's a brave new world our children will grow up in. As much as it pains my old school heart that he might never love a book like this, please someone shoot me if they ever hear me complaining... "In my day, we had to tote ten tons of text books through the rain and up two mountains to get to school. They cost a million dollars, and if you lost one, they cut a pound of flesh right out of your arm and we liked it!"

Not for the easily offended. :)

Also by:
How Six Found Christmas
King Stork
The Moon Singer


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Monday, September 26, 2011

Into the Ark

Into the Ark
Marjorie Hartwell ~ Frankin Watts, 1945

My son has loved animals from the moment he could express himself. That said, he'll always pick up an ark book no matter how good, bad or otherwise it is. Probably way too old now for what amounts to an alphabet book, when I saw this at the library sale last week, I couldn't help myself. The paintings were so rich and lush, even with a busted spine and some loose pages, it was calling my name.

Oh, Noah built the Ark,
That noble boat built he,
To hold the creatures,
great and small,
From elephant to flea.

Aren't the colors outstanding?

The backgrounds are so incredible, with the first page showing blue, cloudless skies, slowly transforming into a black forever, soaked in rain.



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Great Monday Give: Alice and Peter

The Great Monday Give today is a flip book from the Dandelion Library featuring both Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. All you have to do to be entered to win this vintage gem is comment on this post between now and October (OCTOBER, ALREADY!?!) 2, Sunday at 11:59 PM. A winner will be selected at random and announced the next morning.

The winner of last week's give is LizzyBethy. Congrats and send me your information to webe(at)soon(dot)com.

Have a great one, all!


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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Etsy, the Holidays and Thanks

Trying to get the Etsy shop ready for Christmas! I already have some of the holiday titles I've been collecting all year up and plan to share more in the coming months. Plus, I've added these favorites to the shop.

The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Cluck by Arnold Lobel
Reviewed here. Sold here.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Richard Scarry
Reviewed here. Sold here.

Professor Noah's Spaceship by Brian Wildsmith
Reviewed here. Sold here.

The Fat Cat by Jack Kent
Reviewed here. Sold here.

The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt
Reviewed here. Sold here.

I also have a first edition copy of The Monster At The End Of This Book that is in excellent condition. Perfect for gifting...

One thing about money and this blog. I've always said that my hope is to some day break even, but honestly, that day will never come. My husband humors me my obsession because our son benefits greatly, but it really is a labor of love with zero profit. All the books I feature on this site (plus the Great Monday Give books) are bought with my own money. That's why I do run ads and am an Amazon Associate, as unromantic as that sounds.

Just know that every book you buy, every ad you have to be annoyed by in the side bar, and every item you buy on Amazon, that money comes directly back to this blog. So everyone benefits. My son gets to read great books. You get to see pictures of awesome old favorites. And the non-profits and thrift stores near my house get much needed funds. Starting now until Christmas, I'll be posting more in the Etsy shop. And don't forget, if you are planning on buying anything from Amazon (books, electronics, toys, ANYTHING), as long as you click through this site, we'll will get a small kickback from any purchase you make.

I swear I won't mention money again until next year!

Thanks for supporting our little book world
and reading
and commenting
and being all around awesome!


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Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'm My Mommy ~ I'm My Daddy

I'm My Mommy, I'm My Daddy
featuring Jim Henson's Muppets
Daniel Wilcox ~ Mel Crawford ~ Golden Books, 1975

All you long time readers know, I'm a big Jim Henson fan. Since I was a wee girl, I signed everything Mrs. Henson. I followed everything he did from Sesame Street to the Story Hour. For me, it was always about the man and less about the Muppets. He died when I was a senior in high school. My mother came to school and pulled me out of class to tell me the news. I sat in my room for days listening to my Muppet Movie vinyl and crying my eyes out.

Some people cried when Elvis died. Some people mourned when John Lennon was killed. For me, it will always be Jim Henson.

I worked for the company for a short time when it was in transition. When the children sold it to a German conglomeration who at the initial meeting told us our offices would no longer be referred to as "The Muppet Mansion" but would now be called "The International Brand Management Center". I watched closely the sales and passing of torches that followed, always with a sad heart.

I applaud all the artists who have, in the years since his passing, worked to keep the Muppets alive. I have my fingers crossed, hoping the new Muppet movie will be watchable, but seeing as the trailer has a fart joke in it, it's doubtful. Those characters are more than a licensed product. They were the man and the people he brought into his creative circle.

Life Magazine did a cover story after he died written by Stephanie Harrigan, and the last passage of it still rings true.

Jim Henson changed puppets forever, changed them into Muppets. One look at Henson's creations and few people ever wanted to see a stiff, dangling marionette again. His puppets were designed for the close-in scrutiny of the television camera. Their eyes were uncannily expressive, their wide mouths moved in perfect sync with their words. They did not just represent living beings - they were alive themselves.

Or so we can't help believing. "There is something about putting life in the inanimate doll," Jane Henson said. "There's a bit of divinity in it that all puppeteers understand."

That was the thought that kept coming back to me as, later that day, I went on a tour of the workshop where the Muppets are made. Amid all those half-assembled creatures of flocked foam and slush latex, a puppetmaker named Ed Christie showed me a file cabinet where the characters from "Sesame Street" - the actual working Cookie Monsters and Oscars and Grovers - were kept when not in use.

"Here's the real Bert," he said. "And down there is the real Ernie."

He took them out of their drawers and held them up, Bert with his familiar scowling face and repose, their mouths open, their arms hanging idly at their sides, they were creepy. They seemed not only inert but bewitched, frozen under some dark spell. And it seemed at that moment that only Jim Henson, whose genius had created them, and who was now gone, could ever release them.

"That's all they are," Ed Christie said, "just lumps of fabric." I watched as he put Ernie back into the drawer, next to a Ziploc bag filled with spare rubber duckies, and closed the file.

Jim Henson would have been 75 today. Rest in peace, my friend.

(I'm My Mommy ~ I'm My Daddy is a flip book illustrated by the always awesome Mel Crawford. In both stories, child and parent play a game of pretend where the child acts like the parent and the parent, the child. Adorable, old school Sesame Street.)

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
The Sesame Street Decorate a Tree Book


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Friday, September 23, 2011

Update Friday: Grandpa's Ghost Stories

I'll be busy with library sales today. Hitting the road with coffee, kolaches and my vintage muse to see what we might find along the way. While I'm out sniffing around for new things to share, here's an update that is timed for the upcoming season. For Update Friday, please welcome a post from back in '08, Grandpa's Ghost Stories by James Flora. I've dusted if off and provided new, super spooky scans.

And just in case you were looking for something else to do today, here's a list of some of the all time favorite books I've written about on this blog,

Zarelda's Ogre by Tomi Ungerer

Mr. Meebles by Jack Kent

Bubble Bubble by Mercer Mayer

Switch on the Night by Ray Bradbury

The Man Who Lost His Head by Bishop and McCloskey

The Animal Fair by The Provensens

Who's Got the Apple by Jan Loof

The Zabajaba Jungle by William Steig

The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

Man, oh, man, I could go on and on and on so I'd better stop there.

And last but not least, I've got another paperback of The Fat Cat by Jack Kent on the Etsy site. Slightly less perfect than the last one, but still in great condition. Again, I've priced it cheaply for you guys, but get it now before some stranger snaps it up.

Let's all collectively make a point today to not steal anyone's joy. OK?


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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Encounter on the High Seas featuring Roundi Doundi, Chim Cham, Axel, Wallie, Bobo, Rhinie, Emile, and GiGi: Roundi Doundi Gang

Encounter on the High Seas
Edward Azmon ~ based on the characters created by Xenia Azmon ~ A Lion Book, 1971

OK, people. I need help with a mystery. This book has been floating around our shelves for years, and I have no idea what its deal is. I can find no reference to what it is online other than offers to buy on book sale sites. It seems as if it's part of a series (another book online is entitled A Hunt in the Jungle), and the pictures look like they might have been extracted from some sort of film or television animation. No? If anyone knows what the deal is with this book, please comment right away and end the wondering.

That said...

In the far north, where there is nothing but ice and water, lives Wally the Walrus. Wally loves to spend his days fishing and painting his white and blue world. One day Wally runs out of white paint. How can he paint without white? Hopping into his ice car, he hurries to the paint store.

One store after another is closed. The farther he floats away, the hotter it gets and soon his car begins to melt. Lost adrift, he's picked up by an admiral-like crocodile who mistakes him for his friend Bobo the Elephant and soon Wally is painting the reptile's portrait and the next thing they know they are docked and the entire Roundi Doundi Gang is waiting for them and they all fall in love with Wally and climb into Chim Cham's car and head to a party where Wally paints everyone's picture and is gifted with the biggest tube of white paint you ever saw and then he goes home. The end. Whew.

I originally bought this book at Goodwill because of the bright 70s palette, but now the whole thing confounds me to no end. It is only really half a story. It reads like a movie tie-in. They introduce the characters in a tone that makes it sound as if I should know them, and should I know them? If I should know them, why is there no memory of them on the all-knowing Internet? On the cover Wallie's name is spelled Wallie but in the story Wallie's name is spelled Wally. The design and color leads me to believe that the author was massively influenced by the Missoni house of fashion.

Nothing makes sense and yet, I can't look away.

Would someone make this pain in my brain go away and tell me what this book is already!?!


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Little Schubert

A Little Schubert
M. B. Goffstein ~ Harper & Row, 1972

Anytime a children's book can blend the story of classical music with a bit of whimsy, I'm all for it. Better yet if that book is written and illustrated by the incomparable M. B. Goffstein. I could spend a lifetime in any of her books and never grow tired of their brilliant simplicity. Though they all seem to be out-of-print at the moment, the artist was prolific in drawing and writing children's books in the 1960s into the 1990s and won a Caldecott Honor in '77 for her book, Fish for Supper. She even wrote a handful of YA books.

Here, we have a short story about the Austrian composer, Franz Schubert; imaging what it must have been like to compose in the dead of winter, in a bare room with no fire.

But when the cold made his fingers ache, and he almost could not write his music, Franz Schubert got up. He clasped his hands and stamped his feet. He made his shabby coattails fly as he danced to keep warm.

Included are six of Schubert's twelve dances called "Noble Waltzes", written right before his death in 1828, and arranged by one-time Metropolitan Opera conductor, Richard Woitach; presented in full to help illustrated what it means to be musically inspired.

Goffstein's Website is one of the best author sites I've seen, mirrored after her quirky personality and minimalist sense of style. I particularly like one page that's an open letter to Victoria Thorne on How to Write and Illustrate a Picture Book; especially this passage...

What makes you think children like childish things?
Don't tell them how to be children.
They want to grow up.
Do them the honor of reaching for something far beyond you.
It won’t be noticeable but it will be felt.


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