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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vigilceo said...

It's so strange that you posted this! As I have searched high and low to find books from my past, there was a story that stood out to me as well. The details were very fuzzy .... there was a girl and a frog that at some point jumped out of a box ... that's all I remembered (I think it's the way it was illustrated that really stood out to me). I also knew that it was a story that was in one of my elementary text books. I came across the book 'Lions' about a year ago and as soon as I opened the book to the first page, I KNEW that that was the same illustrator as the one in the mystery frog story! You know well my delight when I saw 'surprise day at school' a few pages later!

Burgin Streetman said...

That was my memory, too. Funny that for both of us it was the frog story above all the others.

OnePerfectDay said...

These are gorgeous illustrations!
Love them!

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