Monday, February 28, 2011

The Great Monday Give: Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present

The Great Monday Give is here at last after an extended two-week hiatus. Up for grabs this week is an excellent vintage book club hard copy of the Zolotow and Sendak classic, Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present. All you have to do to be entered to win is comment on this post between now and Sunday (3/6) at 11:59 PM. A winner will be selected randomly and announced the next day. And in case you were wondering... Catherine is the winner of last week's give of the copy of Otto by Tomi Ungerer! Congrats and e-mail me webe(at)soon(dot)com, and I'll try and send it sooner rather than later. Bye for now...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Update Friday: Never Talk to Strangers

Update Friday... when I dust off all that is old and make it new. Here's a post from the summer of 2008 when my mother almost died, and I moved in with her for a few months. It was a time of caretaking, but also a time of raiding my childhood book stash. So many memories.

For instance, Never Talk to Strangers. Dig it. So full of awesome. Sooooo on this sunny Friday morning, enjoy a sorta new post with all new scans. Happy Friday!


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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Sheep of the Lal Bagh

The Sheep of the Lal Bagh
David Mark ~ Lionel Kalish ~ Parents' Magazine Press, 1967

Sorry for not making it in yesterday. The theatrical version of If You Give a Pig a Party and 18 kindergarteners called. Recently, one of my dear friends laughingly called me judgy. Now I know she was ribbing me in that way only good friends can, but it still made me think. I have an opinion about pretty much everything. Often my opinions are very knee jerk and sometimes even uneducated, based on preconceived notions that have little basis in reality. Something my mother said a long time ago. Or an article I read where someone thought something else was stupid. Memories I have of thinking something was cheesy when I was five. Case in point, this book. I've had this book in my possession more than a handful of times. Always passing it along or selling it... judging it poorly by the cover for some unknown reason. Maybe I didn't like the colors or the curves. Or the sheep. Or the fact that it has a name I can not pronounce. For whatever reason, I'd never cracked it open. Not even once.

I often do this with books. I buy them solely because they are of a certain age that I like, but then, for whatever reason, I am put off from actually reading them, and they get passed over again and again for old favorites or new finds. So, in the spirit of being non-judgy, I've started scanning my bookshelves for those titles. The ones that we've had forever, but were being overlooked. To make a short story really, really long, basically, that's how me and the Lal Bagh became friends last week and my son found a new favorite.

Star date, the 1960s, somewhere in India.

In a little city in the heart of India there was a big park called the Lal Bagh. From miles around, the people, who worked very hard came to the Lal Bagh to relax and enjoy themselves on holidays. There is a lot of hard work in India, but there are also a lot of holidays. They came to see the big white petals on the lotus flowers opening and closing in the pond. And the rubbery plants and stickly plants and curly plants in the glass house. And the flame-of-the-forest trees that dotted the sky with orange. And the water in the fountain making rainbow splashes. But most of all, they came to see the lawn mower.

Ah, yes. Ramesh, the sheep who mows in circles and stars to the delight of citizens everywhere. But when the mayor decides Ramash doesn't mow fast enough, his funky, foliage designs are replaced by a push mower and all that was awesome goes to hell. This book is fabulous to look at and huge fun to read. What in the world was my problem? A great book, pushed aside one too many times by my judgy heart, but now forever beloved. I know there's a life lesson in here somewhere. I guess it's safe to say, I'm evolving. Slowly.


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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pavo and the Princess

Pavo and the Princess
Evaline Ness ~ Charles Scribner's Sons ~ 1964

Ex-wife of the infamous prohibition agent, Eliot Ness, and an all around bad ass, Evaline Ness' books always surprise me. Her tight, minimal wood cuts are usually paired with stories that have some dark, sadness of childhood element, giving them a hint of gloomy in a two-color world. Super cool. Any book with a peacock as a main character is going to shine in this house, but beyond that, we have a story of a spoiled princess with cruelty in her heart who refuses to show weakness by crying.

The only person who loved the princess was her father (ouch), and her lack of tears worried and grieved him.

To test if her heart can be touched, he gifts his daughter his prized peacock, Pavo, and everything pretty much goes down hill from there. The resentment and anger inside the girl is so strong and deep, she begins to transfer her hatred for the world onto the poor bird, taunting him and tying up his feathers. Only when the bird flees does the princess taste remorse and the tears begin to flow. A book to prove the importance of getting emotions out and the essential nature of kindness in all of us, no matter how wounded our humanity might be.

Forever after that, Pavo and the Princess were never separated. With the King, they walked together every morning early. They played a new game together every afternoon, and they cried whenever they felt unhappy. On special occasions they cried just for the joy of it.


Also by:
Sam, Bangs & Moonshine
Some of the Days of Everett Anderson
Fierce the Lion


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Monday, February 21, 2011

Martha the Movie Mouse

Martha the Movie Mouse
Arnold Lobel ~ Harper & Row, 1966

In honor of the Oscars this week, I'm trotting out an old favorite by the fabulous Lobel. During a recent reread, I was struck that this book is in rhyme, and I can't remember if any of his other books are. Yes? No? Either way, it's delightful to hear a bounce to accompany those perfect ink drawings.

Always a pleasure...

So, you see, there's this mouse, Martha. She lives on the street in the garbage and basically has a miserable time of it. The snows come, and desperate for shelter, she enters an old movie house. Upon making friends with the projectionist, she decides to stay on as house mouse...
While outside there is snow and sleet,
Inside the theater life was sweet,
For Martha watched with great delight
A double feature every night.
She dined three times a day or more
On popcorn from the theater floor.

All is well, until a movie patron screams EEEK and unrest ensues. Fear not, all it takes is a little song and dance number ala rodent to save the day.

Really, beyond swellicious. Two paws up.

Also by:
The Terrible Tiger
Red Tag Comes Back
Oscar Otter
The Star Thief
Mouse Tales
Prince Bertram the Bad
Benny's Animals
Miss Suzy
Terry and the Caterpillars
The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Cluck
Ice Cream Cone Coot
The Secret Three

Great Monday Give: Otto Extended

Since I posted the give late last week, and today is, technically, a holiday, I'm going to extend last week's give for another week. If you haven't put your name in the hat for a brand new copy of Tomi Ungerer's Otto: The Autobography of a Teddy Bear, please do so here and now. To be entered to win in the Great Monday Give, go to last week's post and comment before Sunday, February 27 at 11:59 PM. A winner will be randomly selected and announced the next morning. As always, thanks for coming and stay tuned for a post on Martha the Movie Mouse by Arnold Lobel.

See you in two shakes of a lamb's tail.


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Friday, February 18, 2011

Update Friday: The Tyger Voyage

It's Update Friday! My weekly foray into the archives, when I take an old post from back in the day (when I was less savvy and only scanned one picture) and spiff it up with new knowledge and pictures. So here, for your viewing pleasure, is my spiffed up review of The Tyger Voyage by Richard Adams from 2007. Enjoy!


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Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Birthday Book

I don't have the wherewithal to do much today, except feature a belated holiday image from a childhood fave.

Love is the warm nest from which Happiness is hatched.

A Birthday Book
Joan Walsh Anglund ~ Determined Productions, 1975

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Piggy Bank Gonzales

Piggy Bank Gonzales
Jack Kent ~ Parents' Magazine Press, 1978

The boy and I live in San Antonio, the seventh largest city in the United States. I bet ya'll didn't know that, did you? It certainly doesn't pop to mind when you think about big metropolitan centers in the U.S., but it's up there. What makes San Antonio, and Texas, particularly unique is its proximity to Mexico. The population here is largely Hispanic and has been, like, forever. The two cultures are pretty much one and the same (as in the food term, Tex-Mex). I'd be hard pressed to think of a family here that isn't mixed in some way making for a wonderfully multicultural place to live. So when personal fave and fellow San Antonian, Jack Kent, dedicated this book para mis amigos mejicanos, he meant it.

In a little house in a little town in Mexico there was a piggy bank. It belonged to a family names Gonzales. Piggy Bank Gonzales led a quiet life. Every day Mama Gonzales dusted him off and gave him a loving pat on the head. Now and then one of the Gonzales children dropped a coin through the slot on his back. Then they would shake him to rattle the coins so they could try to guess how many there were. But most of the time he just sat on a table near the window and watched the people go by.

When Piggy Bank begins to long for adventure, a wandering musician passing under his window is too much to resist. The musician and his friends want nothing to do with the clay pig until they realize that when he dances, he spouts coins. A classic "grass is always greener" tale, sometimes being safe at home is the best place to be.

Funny that a Canadian would be the one to gift this to me. Friends at every border...

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
Socks for Supper


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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

John Patrick Norman McHennessy — the boy who was always late

John Patrick Norman McHennessy: the boy who was always late
John Burningham ~ Crown, 1987

Been feeling the Burningham love around these parts of late, not to mention contemplating all the teachers that are getting ready to come down the pipe. With first grade a half year away, the looming idea of most teachers being great and some not so great is ever present, and one of my worst fears as a parent. What if he gets a teacher who doesn't get and/or like him? What if they think he's a daydreamer and a space cadet rather than an artist and a beautiful mind? How scr*wed will we be?

If this book is any indication, sweet justice is always available to those who stay true to their souls, no matter how big a jerk their teacher is. Case in point...

John Patrick Norman McHennessy set off along the road to learn. On the way a crocodile came out of a drain and got hold of his satchel. John Patrick Norman McHennessy pulled and pulled but the crocodile would not let go. He threw a glove into the air and the crocodile snapped at the glove and let go of the satchel. John Patrick Norman McHennessy hurried along the road to learn but the crocodile had made him late.

"John Patrick Norman McHennessy, you are late and where is your other glove?"

"I am late, Sir, because on the way a crocodile came out of a drain and got hold of my satchel, and would only let go when I threw my glove, which he ate.

"There are no crocodiles living in drains around here. You are to stay late and write out 300 times, 'I must not tell lies about crocodiles and I must not lose my glove.'"

Ah yes, the rub. After a run in with a lion and a tidal wave, the teacher becomes hopping mad at John, but soon sees the error of his ways when the outlandish tables are turned. Fabulous! Burningham always at his best.

I had totally forgotten about the lost art of having to write something 100 times and doing it one word at a time. AWESOME!

Also by:
Cannonball Simp
The Snow
gackern bähen


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Monday, February 14, 2011

Great Monday Give: Otto

Yay! The Great Monday Give. It's still Monday, right? I haven't missed it by making red velvet cupcakes and sorting Valentine's and eating gobs of candy and drinking too much Malbac and being forced to sit through my son's requested viewing of The Phantom Menace, right? Let's just pretend I haven't lost a day and get on with it then.

I am giving this book away today, not because it's a vintage children's book (1999 is still eight years shy) but because it is written by one of my favorite vintage authors (Tomi Ungerer) and the folks at Phaidon (who are reprinting Tomi's children's books) sent it to me and we already have a copy so I'm sharing. If you child is anything like mine, he'll sob buckets on the first read of Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear. A kid-friendly story about the holocaust (really?), it's a testament to the power of love and childhood friendship, all written in the voice of one extraordinary teddy bear. To be entered to win this brand new book, all you have to do is comment on this post before February 27 - Sunday - at 11:59 PM. A winner will be selected the next day and announced here... like this...

The winner of last week's give of Who Took the Farmer's Hat? is gesbaby. E-mail me at webe(at)soon(dot)com with your info and I'll hook you up.

More sooner rather than later. Yay Monday!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Update Friday: The Terrible Troll-Bird

Update Friday. Scanned in some pages from The Terrible Troll-Bird (reviewed in 2008) for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

I'm still knee-deep in sinus drainage, so until next week, have a good one kids.


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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Giant Golden Book of Birds

The Giant Golden Book of Birds
by Robert Porter Allen
designed and illustrated by Arthur Singer
Golden Press, 1962

I'm posting this morning on a book I probably should have highlighted a while ago considering it's prominently displayed in my banner. Those who read this blog regularly know that from the time my son was about 2 and a half, he's been obsessively preoccupied with all things feathered. This love has been unwavering. Never for a moment has it flickered. Other dalliances have come and gone, but for more three years, if you ask him what his favorite thing is, he will tell you. Birds.

I doubt many five years old have written fan letters to David Attenborough professing their love for his work. This past week, huddled in bed fighting colds and ear infections, the American Masters documentary on John James Audubon became his new best friend. He has a habit of circling every bird he sees with his index finger. He loves to draw them. He loves to memorize their names. He loves to make them out of tin foil and fly them around the house.

I was never really a bird person, but when your child embraces something so passionately and fully, you can't help but open up the window and let the love in. As such, I've searched the world over for bird books. My son has dozens of bird guides, chronicling species where his grandmother lives in Virginia, the coast of Maine, the Gulf, California... Being the vintage buff that I am, for me, there is no bird book better for children than The Giant Golden Book of Birds. It is, hands down, my son's favorite book.

Singer's first book Birds of the World was written for adults and published by Golden in 1961. It has many of the same illustrations --and more-- as it's three times the size. The Giant version was published a year later and is basically the same book whittled down in content and repackaged for children. To perfection I might add. There is something about its over-sized layout -- huge pages busting to the brim with colorful birds -- that makes me re-fall in love every time my son cracks it open. Though he adores both books, the one designed with kids in mind is definitely the winner.

If your child has any interest in nature or birds, ours makes a lovely addition to the coffee table. As a mother, this will be the book I look back on and remember.

And cry over, of course.


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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oxygen Keeps You Alive

Oxygen Keeps You Alive
Dr. Franklyn M. Branley ~ Don Madden
This Is a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book
Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1971

I could wax poetic for a million years over the awesomeness of vintage "This Is a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Books". Still in print in updated and often re-illustrated versions, the new editions hold a world of important and vital info for kids, but nothing beats the old school charm of the originals. (See Don Madden's A Drop of Blood -- original versus the reprint and Is There Life In Outer Space? -- original versus the reprint.) The original series was illustrated by a ton of great old timers, and each volume is a delight for the eyes as well as the mind. Regardless, I buy them old, new, whatever... they are that cool and chock-full of basic scientific facts.

For now, let's focus on a favorite all about that stuff we inhale.

When you are awake, you breathe. When you are asleep, you breathe. Every minute of every day you breathe air. Without it, you could only live a few minutes. Part of the air that you breathe is oxygen. You cannot see the oxygen, any more than you can see the air. But there is oxygen in every breath you take.

What a wonderful way to introduce young ones to simple scientific concepts. Once you figure out how to spot these little same-sized hardcovers at the thrift shop, you'll get obsessed with collecting them. The perfect purse size, I always seem to have one floating around in there.

I'm not sure how many were in the series, but just for reference, I'm going to use the term "dozens". Here's a short write up on Dr. Branley and how the series came about, if you're interested. Packaged "lots" of them come up on eBay all the time if you are looking to start in bulk. Not to be missed!

Also by:
Is There Life in Outer Space?
The Daddy Book
One Kitten for Kim


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