Monday, January 31, 2011

The Animal Fair

The Animal Fair
Alice and Martin Provensen
Merrigold Press, 1952

Another long overdue shoutout. Criminal, really, that I've never posted on it before, so here goes. We all know the love professed for the Provensen's on this blog and throughout the Internet. Quite possibly the most awesome husband and wife children's book team of all time.

The latter part of their careers have focused on books with historical content, but for me, it's their early work that gets me jazzed. Happy animals and children come utterly alive in their drawings -- with this one especially being a big hit in my animal-loving son's life.

The bird page alone... jeez. Magic.

One day a hummingbird sat all by himself on a pole. A sparrow fluttered down and perched beside him. Then a chickadee, a titmouse, a finch, a pippit and other small birds joined them.

"Is something going to happen?" asked a wren.

A little owl looked wise. "I think there's going to be a parade," he said.

A parade, indeed. An animal parade! When my son was little, I always worried he was underweight, so I'd bribe him to eat by reading to him at mealtimes. Sound great, right? Well, five years later, and now my son still has the annoying habit of (almost) always refusing to eat unless someone is reading to him. Needless to say, this collection of short tales, wordless stories, poems and gags, comes in handy at restaurants, allowing my husband and me to eat our dinners between stories! Sad, I know, and a horrible habit that we've spent years trying to break, but hey, at this point, it's for his future wife to worry about. There are worse things in life that having to read to your son at mealtimes. But anywho, I digress. The Animal Fair is bright and funny and a must-have for all wee libraries. It was reprinted several times, and Golden Gems has full scans of the reprint, here.

Oh, in case you were wondering how to tell a big, bad wolf, from a run of the mill grey one...

Also by:
A Child's Garden of Verses
Roses are Red. Are Violets Blue??
Funny Bunny
Fireside Book of Folk Songs
The Mother Goose Book
My Little Hen
Our Friends at Maple Hill Farm


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Great Monday Give: Frederick

Monday? Again!?! Could time move any faster? The Great Monday Give for today isn't really rare, but still a sweet little book if you don't own it already. Up for grabs is a nice, already-been-loved paperback of Frederick by Leo Lionni. A classic. To be entered to win, all you must do is comment on this post before February 6 - Sunday - at 11:59 PM. A winner will be selected at random and announced the next morning.

The winner of last week's give of Just Only John by Jack Kent is... dun dun dun dun...

Juniper Sage!

Congrats and please e-mail me your shipping info to webe(at)soon(dot)com.

(& Mrs. McNichols, your winning copy of Sam & Emma went out today. Sorry for the wait!)

Have a great one!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Story of The Challenger Disaster

The Story of the Challenger Disaster
Cornerstones of Freedom ~ Zachary Kent
Children's Press, 1986

25 Years ago today. RIP. Where were you?

Update Friday: The Hat

The second Ungerer my son fell in love with (after Crictor, of course) has been back in the rotation of late, much to my delight. I swear, every child I know who owns this book adores it, so I figured it was overdue for a dusting off. Here, for your Update Friday pleasure, is an update of my June 2008 post of Tomi's fabulous The Hat. (Sadly it seems Crictor needs a polishing, too... does it ever end!?!) Enjoy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

McCall's Golden Do-It Book

adapted by Joan Wyckoff
edited by Nan Comstock
Illustrated by William Dugan
Golden Press, 1960

I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for vintage children's craft books. Though, I always seem to amass more than we could ever possibly craft from. This being one of my faves.

A long day. A short night. Sleep tight everyone, and if you're looking to make ice cream spoon toys or salt-and-starch animals, you know where to find me!

Also by:
Songs We Sing from Rodgers and Hammerstein
How Our Alphabet Grew


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Dangerous Journey

The Dangerous Journey
Tove Jansson ~ originally published 1977 as Den farliga resan
reissued in the UK by Sort of Books, 2010

After seeing the Swedish version on stopping off place, I went looking and found the November reissue by the UK publisher Sort of Books, who also publishes some of Tove's adult fiction. The last of the trio of picture books Tove illustrated herself in the Moomin series, this version features a translation by UK writer and poet, Sophie Hannah, with gorgeous calligraphy by American musician and cartoonist, Peter Blegvad.

The story begins when our heroine, Susanna, wakes one morning to find herself bored and annoyed with her cat (ala Alice's Adventures in Wonderland).

You're old, Cat, and you're lazy--
Too peaceful, too serene
Not me! I'm wild and crazy
And I'm sick of all this green:
A field, a tree, a petal--
Quite beautiful, it's true,
But I'm far too young to settle
For nothing much to do.

Instead of falling down a rabbit hole, her old glasses get inadvertently switched out for a new pair, and her Cat reappears as a wide-eyed loony of a thing. Beyond that, nothing is as it once appeared. A wonderful (yet dangerous) journey through the imagination where all of our Moomin Valley friends make an appearance... the Hemulen, the Hattinfatteners, Thingummy, Little My, Mymble, Moominpappa and the rest.

If you haven't yet gotten acquainted with the Moomin tribe, I suggest you start now. Drawn & Quarterly, here in the US, has reissued the picture books Who Will Comfort Toffle? and The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My as well as the complete comic strip. In addition, Macmillian has released a load of the Chapter Books and even created a series of board books with the characters. This UK version is available now from many sellers on Amazon, and D&Q has promised to get it out here in the US post haste. It's nice that after being out-of-print for so long state-side, many American readers will now have access to the good stuff.


(Along with Alice, this site features a ton of Tove's non-Moomin illustration, including The Hobbit. How awesome is that!?!)

Also by:
The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My
Who Will Comfort Toffle?


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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Where Did I Come From?"

Where Did I Come From?
written by Peter Mayle
Illustrated by Arthur Robins
Designed by Paul Walter
Lyle Stuart, 1973

I had this book when I was little. Is it actually how I learned where babies come from? Probably not, but that doesn't mean it didn't teach me a thing or two about the mechanics. Still in print after 38 years, if you're looking for a book to show your little one about the birds and the bees, there is no other. At least, no other that tells the story with such wit and candor and awesomely silly illustrations of naked people. I can't think of a better way to introduce your child to all those things you are probably too embarrassed to talk about.

This book is all about you.

We wrote it because we thought you'd like to know exactly where you came from, and how it all happened.

The blurb on the back of my 1979 printing from Dr. Spock reads: I give this book top grades for humanness and honesty. Some parents will find that its humorousness helps them over the embarrassment. Others may be offended.

Needless to say, my son hasn't yet had the honor of perusing these pages, but I do keep it handy for when the day finally arrives. Everything is confronted here. The facts of life uncensored. Describing the "you know what" as a sneeze... It feels a bit like this, but much better. Ha! Slang names for body parts. Eggs and their buddies the sperm. Breast feeding. Nothing is left to chance and all the mystery is wiped away. (Visit my tumblr site for an uncensored scan.)

Eighty thumbs up. A classic.

(Gotta love these end pages.)


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Monday, January 24, 2011

Great Monday Give: Just Only John

I was out and about last week and found a slightly imperfect but still awesome copy of one of my all-time favorite vintage children's books, Just Only John by Jack Kent. Copies of this book are not necessarily inexpensive, so if you like Jack's work at all, I suggest commenting on this post before Sunday, January 30 at 11:59 PM to be entered to win. I'll be selecting a winner at random and announcing it the next day. (And for those newcomers who didn't read my newspaper article about Jack last year, they can do so here.)

The winner of the give last week that's gifting One Monster After Another? Why Mr. Edwards, of course. Congrats and e-mail your mailing info to webe(at)soon(dot)com for quick(ish) delivery. That's it for now kids. Have a great one!


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Friday, January 21, 2011

Update Friday: Why I Built the Boogle House

I am pre-dating this and pretending it's Friday when really it's Sunday morning. But come on, who's keeping track? This Update Friday has me reaching way back into the archives and revamping one of the very first posts I did back in July of 2007, Why I Built the Boogle House. The book that truly started it all for me. Now that I think about it... so many books I come across in my travels again and again, but this one, I've only seen once on the shelf, the day that I bought it. My son was two years old and man oh man, how many books we've fallen in love with since then. It boggles the mind. Or boogles it, either one. Enjoy!


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Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Can Write! A Book by Me, Myself

I Can Write! a Book by Me, Myself
with a little help from Theo LeSieg (aka Dr. Seuss) and Roy McKie
Random House, 1971

Just in case you haven't had enough of Roy McKie this month...

Similar in theme to the still-in-print Seuss/McKie classic A Book About Me, if you're a vintage buff and go searching, unsullied copies can be hard to come by. Why, you ask? Well, a child would have to be insane not to want to write in it.

I, myself, shared a copy with my two sisters, and I seem to remember repeated erasing and rewriting until someone got sassy and used a magic marker. The copy I'm scanning here is inscribed "To Paul Feuerbacher From Dwayne F. 1973" and apparently this "Paul" had impeccable handwriting for such a young buck (as evidenced above and below). Though the text is a conduit for which children can perfect their handwriting skills, it also tell a snazzy Seuss rhyming story, of course.

fish in shoe

fish in tree

in the door

cow in bed

...and so on and so forth, full of awesome, made all the more so by McKie's signature sillies. Though I do love much of the realistic painting and waifish pencil drawing styles that dominate the market today, there's something about simple bold colors, outlined in black that makes me giddy inside. It takes me back to an age when handwriting the words "fish in shoe" was the - ahem - hardest thing I had to do. Good times.

Also by:
Bennett Cerf's Book of Animal Riddles
The Nose Book
Bennett Cerf's Book of Laughs
Bennett Cerf's Book of Riddles
McElligot's Pool
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
Come Over to My House
Bartholomew and the Oobleck
The Lorax
Hooper Humperdink...? Not Him!


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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Witch of Hissing Hill

The Witch of Hissing Hill
Mary Calhoun ~ Janet McCaffery ~ William Morrow, 1964

First off let me start off by saying, recently I'm become slightly obsessed with tumblr. I started my tumblr just to see what it was like, and man oh man, it's easy to get addicted looking at all the images, sorted together. Total eyeball candy. Which leads me to this post...

I have to admit, when I first started this blog, I really did just feature the books my son loved... and now that I've (sort of) started collecting for myself, I have to admit he hasn't read all of them. Sometimes I buy a book and write it up the same day, and then he gets to read later. He still very much loves picture books, but they are getting slowly squeezed out by the likes of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson... our picture book snuggle time is lessened by about a second a day. So, yeah, I'll admit. I bought this for myself. And sure, my son will read it in the next week or so, but still, for me, it's eye candy.

Far back in the hill country is Hissing Hill.
It's a bare lonely spot, with one twisted house
and a tall fir behind it.
Once upon a time the hill was aswarm
with black witch cats.
Cats arching their backs on the rooftop,
cats chasing up the fir tree,
cats yowling on crooked fence posts,
cats hissing in every corner of the shackly house.
And all of them black, black, black.

Who doesn't love a black cat? Or at least the idea of one. Mystery. Halloween. Bad luck. Witches. Swizzle is a witch who raises cats. But not just any cats...

Her cats were the witchiest, the wickedest, the very worst, wonderful witch cats in the world.

That is until, a yellow kitten turns her whole witching world topsy-turvy. The words here are really bouncy and fun and you know how I love this sort of 60s illustration. I probably should have waited until October to share, but I'm impatient like that. BOO!


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

gackern bähen

gackern bähen
Erste Wörter ~ John Burningham ~ Verlag Sauerländer, 1984

If you love old books like me, you often find yourself buying them in languages other than your own just because you adore the illustrations. It's hard to turn down John Burningham, no matter what the speak. I believe this is German (yes? no?) and I assume the title has something to do with the animal sounds "cluck" and "baa"... maybe? (Anyone. Anyone?) I'm hesitant to research what it is in English as part of the fun is having no idea what the words mean. Especially when the pencil and ink pictures are so hilarious. I've been a Burningham fan for a while, as his drawings are wonderful and the themes in his own writings are very real and often imperfect. Plus, the guy is married to Helen Oxenbury. How can you not love him?

I'll grunzen to that!

Also by:
Cannonball Simp
The Snow


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Monday, January 17, 2011

Great Monday Give: One Monster After Another

The Great Monday Give for this week (since we upgraded) is a used but still awesome paperback copy of Mercer Mayer's One Monster After Another. To be entered to win, all you have to do is comment on this post between now and Sunday, January 23 at 11:49 PM. A winner will be randomly selected and announced the next day. The winner of last week's give of Sam and Emma, illustrated by Edward Gorey, is Jennifer McNichols. Congrats and send me your info to webe(at)soon(dot)com. Good day, friends.
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