Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shiny Brite

Hey all. Never made it to the computer today, as I've been working on a super secret (but not really) project with a super awesome (really) Internet person of interest... Something really fun that I'll reveal to you guys in due time. That said, in lieu of a formal review, please step on over to Shiny Brite (a blog by two awesome Brooklyn mommas and their awesome kids) and check out an interview with me about, ummmmm, guess.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Guest Post: The Kid

Incidentally, I received another guest post in my inbox yesterday from one of my favorite book bloggers. What I do in quantity, he more than makes up for in quality. While my blog is a ditsy blond who overuses words like "cute", "sweet" and "awesome", his is the ivy league professor... a literary powerhouse who tells us more about authors and books than I ever could. Meet Ariel, author of the blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie, a place that highlights children's books by classic authors not otherwise known for writing children's books. The man does his research. So, without further blah, blah, I welcome Ariel and his book smarts to my humble abode.

The Kid
W. T. Cummings ~ Whittlesy House, 196

After seeing the Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves post for Miss Esta Maude's Secret, I interlibrary-loaned all four of W. T. Cummings's picture books. While Esta Maude and The Girl in the White Hat are more whimsical and therefore perhaps more fun, the masterpiece is The Kid.

This is the children's book Cormac McCarthy would write if he wrote a picture book, complete with the dead grandfather, the horse, and the lone boy's journey through the mountains. While it is never explicitly said that the grandfather is dead, just that "now the boy was alone," it is about death and mourning and my two-year-old right away asked what had happened to the grandfather. When I told her, she was silent, her brow furrowed but her eyes active, clearly trying to absorb the idea. Even with that puzzle at its center, she has sat through it more than once.

According to Gale Biography in Context, Cummings' full name is Walter Thies Cummings (which seems odd given that the bio in one of his books shows he was known as "Bill"). He was born May 31, 1933, in San Diego, CA. He received a Master of Fine Arts from Yale University in 1962, and served in the U.S. Air Force for four years where he became airman first class. As far as Gale is concerned, Cummings was still alive as of 2002. I haven't been able to find any obit online, and oddly enough, no other reference to him in any capacity. He produced only four picture books: The Girl in the White Hat (1959), The Kid (1960), Miss Esta Maude's Secret (1961), and Wickford of Beacon Hill (1962). The Girl in the White Hat was one of the 10 Best Illustrated in the New York Times in 1959, a year that included Little Blue and Little Yellow among other now classics.

I've posted the entire book on my Flickr, here.

Also by:
Miss Esta Maude's Secret


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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guest Post: Joe Kaufman’s Book About Busy People and How They Do Their Work

Last week, I sent out the notice that any and all readers are welcome to submit a guest post and was thrilled to get an immediate reply back from one much-loved regular. Delightful Children's Books is a sweet blog of booklists, and here, they highlight a classic from a recent Favorite Picture Books From My Childhood list. Joe Kaufman is a personal inspiration of mine, so I'm glad to see him getting love elsewhere on the Internet...

Let's give Delightful Children's Books a hardy welcome and a heartfelt thanks for joining in the fun so eagerly. Enjoy!

Joe Kaufman's Book About Busy People and
How They Do Their Work

Joe Kaufman
Golden Press, 1968

Joe Kaufman’s Book About Busy People and How They Do Their Work was one of my favorite books when I was a child, and I am even more smitten with it today. Busy People introduces children to the working lives of eight individuals – Fred Fireman, Trudy Teacher, Peter Policeman, Doris Doctor, Zeke Zookeeper, Irma Installer, Carlo Clown and Perry Postman. (Great names!) First published in 1968, Busy People conspicuously avoids stereotypes; both the doctor and telephone installer are women.

One of the highlights of Busy People is Joe Kaufman’s colorful illustrations.

Here are a few examples:

Doris sees some of her sick patients in their own homes.

Carlo Clown puts on his costume and paints a funny clown face.

At feeding time, Zeke throws fish to the seals.

I also love the fun and fascinating information that Joe Kaufman shares with children. For example, Kaufman explains what happens to letters after they are sent, what to expect during a typical physical exam, and what countries zoo animals come from.

The dated tidbits are amusing. I especially enjoy Joe Kaufman’s introduction to the types of telephones available in 1968, which include telephones that hang on the wall, telephones with dials in hand pieces, and...

With some telephones, you can even see the person you are talking to.

Imagine that!

Also by:
What Makes It Go? What Makes It Work? What Makes It Fly? What Makes It Float?
Learning About Sizes


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Monday, March 28, 2011

Great Monday Give: Cherries and Cherry Pits

The Great Monday Give is here and up for grabs this week is a vintage copy of a newer classic Cherries and Cherry Pits by Vera B. Williams. To be entered to win, all you have to do is comment on this post before 11:59 PM on the night of Sunday, April 3rd. A winner will be selected at random and posted the next day. And in case you were wondering...

Sarah E is the winner of last week's give, a nice copy of One Kitten for Kim. Congrats and e-mail me your info to webe(at)soon(dot)com. Thanks all!


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Friday, March 25, 2011

Update Friday: The Country Bunny

Yes, it's update Friday, again... the day when I reach back into the archives -- way back when I used to only include one scan -- and pick a book to update with all new scans and info. Because it's getting to be that time of year again, I'm dusting off a post from 2008 that highlights my number one all-time favorite childhood book. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. Such a classic and unbelievably uplifting book, you in no way need to believe in the Easter Bunny to fall in love. Enjoy!


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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Geranium on the Window Sill Just Died But Teacher Went Right On

The Geranium On The Windowsill Just Died But Teacher You Went Right On
Albert Cullum ~ Harlin Quist, 1971

Oh, how I brag about seasonal write-ups, yet here I sit. On the brink of highlighting a book about September and the start of school. The end of the year is nearing. The neighborhood pool is getting unlocked and spiffied up. The summer... then FIRST GRADE. We are beyond psyched to move to the next level. Thus enters this wonderful black book. Written by a pioneer in early childhood education, Geranium was a bestseller back in its day and ended up on more than a few "banned books" lists.

Mr. Cullum was recently featured in a film directed by Robert Downey Sr. called Touch of Greatness that "documents the extraordinary work of this maverick public school teacher who embraced creativity, motivation and self-esteem in the classroom through the use of poetry, drama and imaginative play."

This man is my new personal hero, and watching this film has made me rethink so many of the ways I interact with my child. Every new moment with him is an opportunity to expand his mind and open up the world.

Geranium is a poetic ode to teachers, spoken from the voice of babes begging them to open up and have heart. Illustrated by almost 30 different artists, each page is a rallying cry to educators to think as a child and remember what it was like to be young and curious.

Nothing less than inspiring.

Teacher, come on outside!
I'll race you to the seesaw!
No, you won't fall off!
I'll show you how!
Don't be afraid teacher.
Grab my hand and follow me.
You can learn all over again!

If you have a few moments today, watch the trailer, Google this man's name and stream the movie on Netflix. Believe me, it will make your day. As Cullum once said: Teachers can be bearers of gifts. Not only do we have the priviledge of introducing great literature to young, imaginative minds, but we also have the priceless opportunity of giving each child the gift of believing in him or herself.

I'll second that.

(Pictures in order by: J.K. Lambert, Jacques Rozier, Philippe Weisbecker, Henri Galeron ~ Cover by: Philippe Weisbecker)


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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Great Readers Write

It occurred to me the other day that I don't thank all you readers enough for coming. I am a very part-time blogger. My blogging takes up about an hour of my day, and sadly, I don't have the time to do more as motherhood/life/work calls. People are always e-mailing me suggestions and kind words. I try and write something back. Sometimes I forget and don't. I always read all the comments even if I don't comment in return. Just know that if it wasn't for you guys, I probably wouldn't keep coming back everyday. Your passion for books and your passion for your little ones inspires me daily. And I just wanted to say thanks... and remind you that anyone and everyone is allowed to guest post on my blog. I put that out there a few years back, but I wanted to offer up a refresher for those who forgot. The details can be found here.

I hope you'll all consider a post and thanks for coming to my party....

Three Stalks of Corn

Three Stalks of Corn
Leo Politi ~ Charles Scribner's Sons, 197

Last night, I attended the mandatory meeting at my son's school to get him into the lotto for the Spanish immersion program next year, meaning from day one, the teachers will be speaking to him, and expecting him to speak, in Spanish. It's a very exciting program and slightly hard to get into because the interest is so high, so I am now a mix of enthusiastic nerves. I've been talking to him on and off about expectations, just in case he gets in, and have been relying on some of our books in English that share words in Spanish and aspects of the Mexican culture (though from the panel of teachers last night it seems as if they are from everywhere from Puerto Rico to The Dominican Republic to Peru). Still, this is San Antonio, so the culture here in general leans to the Mexican side.

Leo Politi's work usually focuses on Cal-Mex culture, still, being a border state, the end results of the intermingling of two worlds are almost identical. However, from what I can tell, food-wise, California leans a little heavy on the sour cream (which you don't really find in interior Mexican dishes)... and that is what we are talking about here. Food, or more specifically, corn.

Angelica lives with her grandmother in the city of Pico Rivera in California. The section of the city in which they live is the "Barrio de Pico Viejo," the district of Old Pico. Many of the people who live here are of Mexican descent. The neighbors call Angelica's grandmother abuelita, which means "grandmother" in Spanish. On weekdays grandmother walks Angelica to school and meets her for the walk home when school is over. Angelica and her grandmother live in an early California house with a veranda all across the front. A large tree shades the yard, and at the bottom of the tree trunk is a statuette of the Virgin of Guadalupe - the patron saint of all Mexico. In front of the house is a vegetable garden where grandmother grows lettuce, tomatoes, and pepper plants. She also grows patches of parsley, coriander, onions, and garlic to flavor her food. Grandmother is a very good cook, and when she is cooking, the aroma makes everyone who smells it very hungry.

Indeed she is. Her pride and joy are three stalks of corn that she tends with care and in the pages that follow, granddaughter learns how to make tortillas (hand-ground from scratch), corn husk dolls and kerneled necklaces. Her grandmother tells her old folk stories of gods that protect the corn and teaches her friends how to make tacos and enchiladas. It's a sweet story of one generation passing secrets down to the next, and it ends with the best thing ever. Recipes!

I never tire of Leo's delicate illustration style and thoughtful voice. So respectful of children and diversity in our wonderful world. Enjoy!

Also by:
Song of the Swallows
Butterflies Come


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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ponies of Mykillengi

Ponies of Mykillengi
Lonzo Anderson ~ Adrienne Adams
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1966

How did spring arrive when I still have a little pile of snow books stacked here on my desk to review? Darn. Well, since I know for a fact that it did snow somewhere yesterday (New Jersey), I guess one last winter-themed book wouldn't hurt anyone. And since the first spring-themed book I did was an Adams, it seems only right to let her close out the season. Plus, it's always kinda sorta winter in Iceland, yes? And that's exactly where we are in this book. Iceland. When two young siblings go out into the snow for a pony ride, oddly enough, it's an earthquake that starts them on an adventure.

The world seems empty. No tree or fence, no road or living thing can the children see in any direction. The next farm is miles and miles away. Suddenly the earth trembles and rumbles. Rauf shouts, "Earthquake!" The ponies' heads jerk high and their ears point. Their eyes roll, white around the edges. They are young and have never heard or felt an earthquake before, although in Iceland such things often happen.

Beneath them, a crack in the earth appears, thwarting their ability to get home. Their quiet conflict includes a blizzard, a pony birth and a volcano, all illustrated in hushed, warm tones.

Quite the little epic for a picture book, and it mirrors the look and feel of Robert McCloskey's stunner Time of Wonder. If you enjoy the quiet chaos of that story, you'll appreciate this one. Which reminds me... so many books, so little time.

Also by:
The Day We Saw the Sun Come Up
Mr. Biddle and the Birds
A Woggle of Witches
The Wounded Duck
The Easter Egg Artists
Butterfly Time


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Monday, March 21, 2011

Great Monday Give: One Kitten For Kim

Hope everyone is fairing well and those of you who were on it had a nice spring break despite everything going on across the world. You know us, we're always watching the animal stories at our house. If you're looking for ways to help with the animal rescue in Japan, this Facebook page is a great "no-kill" resource.

That said, nothing is a better friend to a child than an animal. Up for grabs is a good, vintage hard copy of One Kitten For Kim by Adelaide Holl and Don Madden. To be entered to win, simply comment on this post before March 27, Sunday @ 11:59 PM. A winner will be selected and announced the following morning.

As for last week's give of the sweet little Mammals book, the winner is Erin. E-mail me at webe(at)soon(dot)com with your mailing info, and I'll ship it off (hopefully) ASAP.


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Friday, March 18, 2011

What can I do today?

What can I do today?
projects by Linda Nicol and David Clark (Design Group Ltd.)
illustrations by Brian Edwards
Rand McNally, 1973

I'll be back on Monday with a full week of posts. Until then, here's "Over 100 projects for boys age 6-12". Though I don't understand the gender-specific logic, I'll never turn down a vintage craft book, even if it is all full of little boy cooties! Ewwwwwwww.


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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bored -- Nothing To Do!

Bored--Nothing To Do!
Peter Spier ~ Doubleday, 1978

Checking in from a week of news watching and visiting family and staying home with the wee one... a week that has brought me anything but boredom, but still.... what do young boys do when they get ants in their pants? Why, build a plane from spare parts around the house, of course! D'uh. Pure Spier (though this one has words), making me wonder how resourceful his own children must be and how amazing it must be to be one of them... Enjoy!

"Let's make something."

Also by:
The Fox Went Out On a Chilly Evening
The Star-Spangled Banner
Noah's Ark
Peter Spier's Christmas
Gobble Growl Grunt
Little Bible Storybooks


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