Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Great Holiday Give Day Three: Kangaroo for Christmas

As promised, I have a copy of the Enchanted Lion reprint of Jim Flora's Kangaroo for Christmas for day three of the Great Holiday Give. Both Enchanted Lion and Phaidon have done an incredible job of recreating the original look and feel of these old books. Phaidon's Ungerer reprints and Enchanted Lion's Flora titles have that wonderful matte feel that makes such a rich tactile experience to the reader. Love love love.

All you have to do to be entered to win this brand new copy of Kangaroo for Christmas is comment on this post by 11:59 PM Sunday, December 4. A winner will be selected at random and announced (along with all the other winners from the week) on Monday, December 5.

The Great Holiday Give lasts all week, so be sure and check back each day to find out about a new vintage reprint and enter to win a different book. And if you missed the past two days, throw your hat in the ring now...

Day One: Christmas Eve at the Mellops by Tomi Ungerer
Day Two: Professor Wormbog in the Search for the Zipperump-a-zoo by Mercer Mayer

This book was sent to me by the publisher to giveaway, but I don't think I need to tell you that this in no way educated my opinion of the publisher or the title in question. I've been bragging on this book since the beginning of time!

Good luck everyone!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Great Holiday Give Day Two: Professor Wormbog in the Search for the Zipperump-a-zoo

The folks at Premiere Author Publishing sent me a copy of Professor Wormbog in the Search for the Zipperump-a-zoo for the Great Holiday Give. I'd never heard of them before, but they seem to facilitate a sort of self-publishing platform for established authors. Though the format isn't as aesthetically awesome as the original oversized-edition with the matte pages, still, it's back in print which is a zillion times better than having it languish in over-priced eBay obscurity. Plus, the idea of authors having a bit more control over reprinting out-of-print books intrigues me.

I can't tell if these are publicist run yet, but it seems they've gotten Mercer Mayer to sign up for Twitter and Facebook, which is super in its own right.

To be entered to win this amazing reprint, simply comment on this post by 11:59 PM Sunday, December 4. A winner will be selected at random and announced (along with all the other winners from the week) on Monday, December 5.

The Great Holiday Give lasts all week, so be sure and check back each day to find out about a new vintage reprint and enter to win a different book. Throw your name in the hat for the book from yesterday, too...

Day One: Christmas Eve at the Mellops by Tomi Ungerer
Day Three: Kangaroo for Christmas by Jim Flora


This book was sent to me by the publisher to giveaway, but I don't think I need to tell you that this in no way educated my opinion of the publisher or the title in question. I've been bragging on this book since the beginning of time!

Good luck everyone!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

The Great Holiday Give Day One: Christmas Eve at the Mellops

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I know I did. The Muppets did not disappoint, though we never did make it out to see Hugo. The turkey was moist. The leftovers abundant. And I just bundled my last relative up and sent her on her way. Good times.

That brings me to...

The Great Holiday Give is here.

Yayyyy!!!!!

I will be giving away a different reprint every day, brand new and ready for regifting to that special someone in your life.

To celebrate Tomi Ungerer's 80th birthday today, I thought we would start off with his holiday classic, Christmas Eve at the Mellops.

Phaidon sent a copy of the reprint, hot off the presses, for one lucky reader. All you have to do to be entered to win is comment on this post by 11:59 PM Sunday, December 4. A winner will be selected at random and announced (along with all the other winners from the week) on Monday, December 5.

The Great Holiday Give lasts all week, so be sure and check back each day to find out about a new vintage reprint and enter to win a different book.

Day Two: Professor Wormbog in the Search for the Zipperump-a-zoo by Mercer Mayer
Day Three: Kangaroo for Christmas by Jim Flora

This book was sent to me by the publisher to giveaway, but I don't think I need to tell you that this in no way educated my opinion of the publisher or the title in question. I've been bragging on this book since the beginning of time!

Good luck everyone!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Muppets Take Manhattan Comic Book

Welcome back one of my favorite children's book bloggers, Ariel S. Winter, author of the fab We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie and the forthcoming picture book, One of a Kind. He's here with more Muppet memories!

Not exactly a "book" book, but hey, it's all good.


The Muppets Take Manhattan Comic Book
Jim Henson's Muppets ~ Star Comics ~ 1984


In my memory, I got this at the movie theater when I saw the movie, but now looking at the issue, I think that's unlikely. In part because I also remember it being the full story, not a single issue, (and there was a full-story special released, so I might have that somewhere, too), but also because it was with a bunch of other random Marvel titles.



My mother had a patient in the early '80s who worked for Marvel, and she'd occasionally bring me large yellow interoffice envelopes, the kind that closed by wrapping a string around a cardboard disc attached with a grommet, stuffed with an assortment of comics. Those were the seeds of my now vast comic book collection. This particular issue's cover is completely separated from the rest of the comic, so I must have looked at it frequently.

However, the thing I remember the most is this Fig Newton maze advertisement (which includes the now defunct and often mourned Apple Newtons, as well). I probably remember the ad best because it was in other comics, as well. As a whole, I found while scanning this issue that the advertisements excited me more than the comic itself. Mario Bros for Atari. Star Wars: The Arcade Game for Atari. The New York Comic Book Convention. And diamond rings sold by Military Diamond Sales out of Malibu, CA. (I don't know who they thought was in the audience reading a Muppets comic that would be in the market for a diamond ring.)

That last is most confusing since these comics were published by Marvel in their Star Comics line, which were comics targeted to a younger audience. That was where the US ThunderCats comic was printed and the US Masters of the Universe comic, and most relevant, home to the long running Muppet Babies comic book. If anyone has the other issues of the mini-series, I encourage you to scan them and post them, so people can enjoy the whole thing.

I've posted a complete scan of the first issue of the comic adaptation of The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) on my Flickr set, here.

Other Muppet books:
Muppets at Sea
Muppet Madness
The Muppet Movie

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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Muppet Movie

Happy Thanksgiving week, all you yanks.

But more important than that... it's just two days until The Muppets opens. YAAAAYYYY!!!!!!



One of my favorite children's book bloggers is here today, Ariel S. Winter, author of the fab We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie and the forthcoming picture book, One of a Kind. A man after my own heart, he's here to talk Muppets, TWICE, so sit back and enjoy.


The Muppet Movie
Steven Crist ~ Abrams, 1979


Burgin has me beat (has all of us beat, really) with her story of getting pulled out of class by her mother the day that Jim Henson died and then going on to work at the Henson Company, but the Muppets (and all of Henson's work) have been extremely important in my life.

That is why perhaps the only children's book that I have from my own childhood is the Abrams photographic adaptation of The Muppet Movie.

I have memories of this book at both my mother's house and my father's house, which means that I treasured it enough to carry it between their homes on visits (and I don't think I did that with anything else other than my He-Man toys and comic books).

I stamped the front flyleaf with a Raggedy Ann/Raggedy Andy "This Book Belongs To" rubber stamp with my rainbow ink pad. The pages, starting with Chapter 2 through the beginning of Chapter 4, are completely loose from the binding. I cut out a corner of one of the pages, but I can't remember why. (I vaguely feel that I used the photo for a school project.) And there was a "Bazooka Joe" comic in Hebrew folded in the middle. (I have no idea why.) Now, with DVD, it seems unlikely that anyone would have interest in a book like this, but at the time, there was no way to rewatch a movie unless you were lucky enough to catch it on TV.

Of course, only a few years later, we were able to record it on VHS from the television, so I saw the movie many times, but I must have paged through this volume even more.

Afterthought by Burgin: I know exactly how you feel, Ariel. Back in '79, I had to special order the LP at our local record shop, and it felt like it took months to come in. Every week before my gymnastics lesson, my mother would swing me by the record shop to see if it was in, and all the cool guys who worked there would laugh at me, and say "Not yet."

When it finally arrived, I remember being so jacked that I slept with the thing. It was the same album I listened to the day Jim died, and the same one I listened to the day I got the job.

I still have it, though I have extra back up copies now for the boy to play.

In a total 180, it took me about three seconds to download The Muppets soundtrack, just now.

Technology. Ha!


Other Muppet books:
Muppets at Sea
Muppet Madness

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Henri's Walk To Paris... coming soon!

While this is not an official review, I got a few spreads from the forthcoming reprint of Henri's Walk To Paris today and just had to share. I've been dreaming of stumbling across a copy ever since seeing it on grain edit in '07, but it has eluded my grasp with its high vintage price tag.

Thankfully, with the new year comes a brand spanking new Rizolli edition to be had by all! Saul Bass is swinging back into the collective subconscious with the long-awaited book on his life and work (Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design), and this new edition of his only book for children, originally published in 1962.

I am, literally, salivating as I write this. The reprint hits stores in February, so stay tuned next year when I'll give it its proper do with more gushing and love and ahhhhing.

CAN'T HARDLY WAIT... sooo yummy.


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A Very Young Dancer Lives!!!!!

Thanks to the reader who sent me this link...

Have you ever wondered what became of the girl in the classic A Very Young Dancer?

Now we know!

Seriously, The New York Times just made my holiday!

Thank you thank you thank, Stephanie, for dancing your way into our hearts all those years ago!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lions and Lobsters and Foxes and Frogs

Lions and Lobsters and Foxes and Frogs: Fables from Aesop
Ennis Rees ~ Edward Gorey ~ Young Scott Books, 1971


Thinking of Aesop's and Gorey, which somewhere in the back of my mind I always am, if you've never seen this charmer, you're in for a treat! I've mentioned before the traveling Gorey show that came through here and how the literature associated with it said Gorey attempted to publish his own books for children, but editors thought his themes too dark.

Thus, the bulk of his children's titles were written by someone else.

Enter Ennis Rees, a fellow South Carolinian and the author of a short series of Gorey-illustrated works from the 1960s: this one along with Brer Rabbit and His Tricks and More of Brer Rabbit's Tricks based on the old southern folktales. Ennis does a wonderful job of retelling the fables of Aesop in rhyme, and Gorey's drawings are simple but perfect in helping to catch the menagerie of mischievous natures inherent in each creature.

The wonderful thing about volunteering in an old school is that they have an old library that is still filled with so many wonderful things. My library card is certainly getting a workout, and hopefully, some of these books still have a chance of being loved before the WITHDRAWN stamp snuffs their influence.

Also by:
Rumpelstiltskin
The Dwindling Party
Sam and Emma
Red Riding Hood
You and Me
The Shrinking of Treehorn

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Becky's Birthday

Becky's Birthday
Tasha Tudor ~ The Viking Press, 1960


With the holidays close at hand, I turn to the timeless Tasha Tudor, always, to help usher in the season. A Time to Keep was one of my all-time childhood favorites with lessons on how to celebrate every holiday with the proper old-time magic. (You won't find a better present for a baby shower. It's as necessary for a child as Make Way for Ducklings or Where the Wild Things Are, only filled with extra special sweetness.) The birthday chapter with its lighted cake floating down the river is especially enchanting, and here, we see a girl's birthday celebration fleshed out in its all-day grandeur.

The sun shone in at the window and brought Becky wide awake. She sat up in bed. "This is my birthday," she said. "I am ten years old!" She didn't feel any older, but she felt very excited. The birds singing in the lilac bushes seemed to be saying, "Happy birthday!" And the roosters in the barnyard were crowing the same thing. Becky jumped out of bed and put on her clothes.

What commences is the sweetest celebration filled with new skills learned and responsibilities earned, handmade ice cream and chilled ice tea, chickens and cows and kittens, games and a picnic, followed by the familiar floating confection.

A day where the best thrill of all is knowing you are a year wiser.

Tasha truly lived in the enchanted world she created within her books. Each title a reflection of her own experiences and reality.

Sadly, she passed away in 2008.

The world is a lesser place without Tasha's spirit alive within it, but at least her drawings and books will stay around for a while longer. The companion book, Becky's Christmas, has alluding my grasp so far, but I keep hoping...

Also by:
1 is One
A Time to Keep
Pumpkin Moonshine
First Graces
Five Senses
Tale For Easter
Snow Before Christmas

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The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora

Always a VKBMKLs fave, the Dorian Grey Gallery will host The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora, the first posthumous New York exhibit and sale of Jim Flora original art and prints.

The exhibit opens with a reception on Nov. 19, and runs thru Jan. 8.

The gallery will showcase significant works from the Flora family collection, covering the 1940s to the late 1990s. Offerings include temperas on paper; woodcut prints (vintage and new); medium and large acrylics on canvas; pen & ink drawings on paper; fine art and screen prints, and branded Flora paper merchandise. Many exhibited works have not been previously published in our three Fantagraphics anthologies.

If you kids are in New York, do not miss!

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Great Holiday Give News

Happy Monday all! The winner of last week's give of Doctor De Soto is Britt. Congrats and e-mail me your info to webe(at)soon(dot)com.

I am taking a few Mondays off from the give to celebrate the holidays with my family, and will be here only off and on next week as my sister and father are flying in for Thanksgiving.

That said, Monday ~ November 28 will start the annual Great Holiday Give Week where I'll be giving away a brand new reprint every day for five days.

Prizes include reprints of Christmas Eve at the Mellops, Kangaroo for Christmas, Something for Christmas and more. Don't miss it!

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Muppet Madness

Muppet Madness featuring Jim Henson's Muppets
designed by Bruce McNally, Les Skinner, and John Stevenson
Random House ~ 198
0


As an unabashed and life-long Muppet fan, ex-Jim Henson company employee, and the mother of a Gonzo-loving six-year-old, to say I am looking forward to the premiere of The Muppets is a massive understatement. Though I know it will never be all the things I want it to be, the ginormous crush I harbor for Jason Segel gives me a small glimmer of hope that it might at least be entertaining. And, of course, the chance for weeping? Likely.

The thing I love most about the old Muppet Show was how Jim and his writing staff always tipped the hat to entertainment of old using skits and music that dated back to the vaudeville days. I play those albums and shows for my son now because a lot of those cultural influences, he won't get elsewhere. What other kiddie show could spoof The Marx Brothers so flawlessly?





Ah yes, the timeless brilliance of The Muppet Show. Really, I can't talk about this stuff without getting goose-pimpled and misty. If the movie stinks, the boy and I can always come home and watch the Star Wars episode of The Muppet Show for, like, the zillionth time. That and pull out all my old Muppet books to read.

Thus, how we arrive at our post for today. Random House published a number of TV tie-ins during the show's six-year run and beyond. This one arriving toward the end.

Technically, it is a rehash of a Muppet Annual from 1979. Featuring photography as well as comic book-style illustration, the book includes stories and games and a huge helping of signature Muppet silliness. Designed by a trio of talented artists (including the Director of Kung Fu Panda), it gives you a taste of what the old Muppet humor was all about, hugely innocent and appealing to children with a good amount of subversive adult humor sprinkled in.

As weird as it sounds, I remember being vaguely attracted to Kermit in the Disco Frog story...

and completely horrified by the Holiday Haunt tale.

What a blast it was being eight! As a girl, I never missed one of The Muppet Show's original 120 episodes, and as a mother, I'm slowing getting through them all again with my son. As for this Thanksgiving, it's, once again, time to play the music... with Kermit, Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie and the gang ready for their closeup, the 23rd can't get here soon enough. No matter how forgotten the plot of the new movie leads you to believe the Muppets are, the Henson legacy is still alive and well in my house.

My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here. ~ Jim Henson

Done and done.



Other Muppet books:
Muppets at Sea

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Real Hole

The Real Hole
Beverly Cleary ~ Mary Stevens ~ William Morrow, 1960


Sorry I've been missing for a few days, but my allergies are seriously kicking my butt!

Thus, this special Saturday post...

Soooo, today I wanna talk about a short series of picture books by the incomparable Beverly Cleary about a pair of twin preschoolers named Jimmy and Janet. The Real Hole was the first one in 1960, followed by Two Dog Biscuits in '61 and The Growing-Up Feet in '67 (also illustrated by Mary Stevens of Trixie Belden fame), and later followed by Janet's Thingamajigs in '87 (illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo who eventually went on to reillustrate the whole series). I have to assume these books were inspired by Beverly's own twins, Malcolm and Marianne, born in 1955.

That said, the first story opens with a brief introduction into the minds of the matchmade siblings.

Jimmy and Janet were twins.

This meant they had the same mother, and the same father, and the same birthday, too. Jimmy always had Janet to play with and Janet always had Jimmy to play with. Even though Jimmy and Janet were both four years old, they did not always like the same things. Janet liked to pretend things. She liked to pretend that a block was a cup of tea and that two paper bags were a pair of shoes. But Jimmy-- Jimmy liked real things. He didn't want to play with a toy hammer and toy nails. He wanted to play with a real grown-up hammer and real grown-up nails.


And there's the rub. When Jimmy is inspired to dig a hole, Janet imagines it a fishing hole or a rabbit's lair, while Jimmy insists, no, it is a REAL HOLE. In the end, the hole must find purpose, and it finally ends up the perfect size for a real tree, appropriately decked out for the season.

I doubt there are many children who didn't grow up loving Beverly's world of Ramona, Henry, Ribsy and Ralph, but these books, in particular, make me wonder what a special treat it must have been to grow up with a mother like Beverly, with her boundless imagination and heart.


Thanks for the borrow, Gillian!

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