Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Cat in the Hat Song Book

The Cat in the Hat Songbook
Dr. Seuss ~ Piano Score and Guitar Chords by Eugene Poddany
Random House, 1967

My son recently added guitar to his legion of after-school lessons. Though his teacher is the guitarist for a local hard rock quartet and the boy's current favorite band is The Clash, I still think he has a little room for the Dokkulous Doctor in his musical lexicon. Not out-of-print by any stretch of the word, our copy of the classic song book that's subtitled "19 Seuss-Songs for Beginning Singers" dates back to the 60s. It features a mess of medleys penned by the doctor himself and scored by the man who wrote the music for various Chuck Jones/Seuss collaborations like the original animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas television special from 1966. Fawho fores dawho dores!

Picture of Suess, Thurl Ravenscroft - who (though uncredited) sang the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (Boris Karloff played the Grinch otherwise) - and Eugene in white via the Chuck Jones blog.

Let us all sing!
It's good for almost anything.
It's good for dusty, musty throats to let out gusty lusty notes.
It's good for people, frogs and goats to open up and sing.
It's good for tongues and necks and knees of people, bees and chimpanzees.

Man, the songs in this book are big fun. New found faves like "The Super-Supper March"; "My Uncle Terwilliger Waltzes with Bears"; "The No Laugh Race"; "Somebody Stole My Hoo-To Foo-To Boo-To Bah"; "Rainy Day in Utica, NY"; "Happy Birthday To Little Sally Spingel Spungel Sporn"; and the unforgettable "Left-Sock Thievers".

The left sock thievers have been sneaking into town.
So don't you ever let them catch you with your left sock down.
They reach around dark corners, when you stroll about at night.
Then, woosh!
There goes your left sock.
And you're left there with your right!

These songs are the stuff childhood is made of. Crazy rhymes and silly sayings, arranged perfectly to tune in Mr. Geisel's bouncy gait.

If your child has a piano, a guitar, or simply a set of really good pipes, this book was meant for you.

Also by:
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
The Lorax
Come Over to My House
Bartholomew and the Oobleck
The Sneetches
I Can Write! A Book By Me Myself!
Hooper Humperdink?... Not Him!
McElligot's Pool


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The Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature

This must be my lucky day! I recently got a comment from the Berenstain Bears site letting me know that my three favorite Bear books ever (Science Fair, Nature Guide, and Almanac) have been collected and complied into one giant book of awesome to be released by Dover in January.

Meet The Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature.

Seriously. Run don't walk to put your hands on this collection. The three original books were the best the Berenstains ever published. Perfect. Fun. And full of imagination. I'm beyond psyched that these out-of-print classics will be back in circulation!

Yay life!!!!!


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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tiny Tales

My father-in-law's girlfriend brought over these Whitman Tiny Tales circa the 1940s, and I couldn't resist sharing. Aren't they darling? Happy Saturday, all!


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Monday, August 20, 2012

Something Queer is Going On (A Mystery)

Something Queer Is Going on
Elizabeth Levy ~ Mordicai Gerstein ~ Delacorte Press, 1973

Oh, how many years it took before I could get on board with this one.

The original in a series of books that ran from '73 - '97 (and more recently got spun off into "The Fletcher Mysteries"), I was forever finding copies and never reading them, instead choosing to sell or give them away. Then one day --as my son is prone to do --he got his hands on one from the rejected book pile and fell in love. I'm not sure why the title put me off for so many years. More than likely, I originally thought it too long for a picture book and kept passing it over. Now, my son loves to hear the story again and again, and I do love to indulge him.

Written by the prolific Levy and illustrated by Gerstein who eventually brought us the Caldecott Award-Winning, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, the story is all kinds of busy. A Encyclopedia Brown-worthy investigation that finds two friends, Jill and Gwen, on the hunt for the madman who dog-napped their good buddy, Fletcher.

Jill went outside to look around. She ran into her friend Gwen. "Hey," she said, "I can't find Fletcher."

"What do you mean?" asked Gwen. "Your dog never needs finding. He never goes anywhere."

"That's just the point," said Jill. "He wasn't in front of the house when I got home."

Fletcher was not the kind of dog to run away. In fact Fletcher hardly ever moved at all.

The two spreads that eventually helped win me over? This page with the different directional diagrams of Fletcher. (Hilarious.)

And the car chase map.

Definitely feeds my penchant for the busy in children's books. Never fear for poor Fletch though. Our wee lady Sherlocks do track down the culprit and bring him to justice, ending with a glorious parade finale where everybody wins. Though I've only ever come across one or two of the others in the series, I always keep my eye out now, hoping I'll find it before it's too late... if it isn't already. Sigh.


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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Guest Post: The Little Woman Wanted Noise

One of my favorite bloggers, Ariel S. Winter of We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie, is having a banner summer. At the start, his first children's book was released - One of a Kind, and then his first adult novel, The Twenty-Year Death, came out shortly thereafter to rave reviews. And in the middle of all that, Ariel still had time to do a little write-up for VKBMKLs. The man is unstoppable, so let's welcome him.

The Little Woman Wanted Noise
Val Teal ~ Robert Lawson ~ Rand McNally, 1943

The Little Woman Wanted Noise (1943) was Val Teal's first book. It tells the story of a little woman who lives in the city between a shoemaker and carpenter and below a printer, so it's always noisy. Then she receives a letter from her cousin: "I am going to Australia and I give you my farm." So the little woman moves to the farm. "But she couldn't rest and she had no peace of mind because it was so quiet." She asks around about the best way "to get some noise on my place," and she's told to get some animals. She gets a cow, and then a dog, and then a cat, and a duck, a rooster, a hen (who begets chicks), a pig, and "an old rattlety-bang car with a good loud horn," "but still it was not enough for the little woman." So she drives back to the city, and stops outside a boys' orphanage, which is the noisiest place she can find. She goes in, adopts two boys, and "After that, there was always plenty of noise on the farm...And the little woman had no rest. But she had peace of mind."

The book is at base an animal noises books, with each new animal adding a sound to the list. Moo-moo, bow-wow, meow-meow, quack-quack, etc. The interesting thing about the copy I have, which is a 1967 reissue discarded library copy is that someone penciled in "corrections" to some of the noises. So the hen's "Cut-cut-cut--cut-aw-cut" has written above it "cluck cluck" every time it appears. And the pig's "sque-ee-ee-e-e-e" has "oink" written over it. Even the truck's horn is amended from "Goo-oo-oop" to "beep." Now, when my daughter was at the animal noises stage (do you remember when people asked you how many words your baby knew, and you would ask if animal sounds counted?), I would approximate the animal noises as best as I could, regardless of how they had been spelled out in onomatopoeia. Why the librarian couldn't make those sounds on the fly during story time, but had to annotate the book is beyond me, but it adds personality and charm to our edition, even if I don't adopt the penciled suggestions.

Val Teal (1903-1997), her full name was Valentine because she was born on February 14th, wrote at least one other picture book, Angel Child (1946) and what I believe is a memoir for adults It Was Not What I Expected (1948). Her bibliography at Gale Biography in Context is worded in a confusing way, but I believe what it is saying is that her work for children appeared in at least two dozen other books (anthologies), as well as in numerous magazines. She writes in her own bio for The Little Woman Wanted Noise that in addition to writing she is "an enthusiastic homemaker, she loves to cook and bake, to make rugs and piece quilts." Gale quotes her from somewhere, "I am a zealous conservationist and environmentalist. I wash dishes by hand, wash clothes with a wringer-type washer to conserve water. I hang them out to dry to conserve energy. I even make my own laundry soap and my clothes are cleaner and whiter than those washed with detergents which are polluting our streams. I have no garbage disposal or dishwasher. I have always baked our bread." She sounds like she was an interesting, fun, forceful woman.

The illustrations for The Little Woman Wanted Noise were done by the master Robert Lawson (1892-1957) most famous for illustrating The Story of Ferdinand (1936) by Munro Leaf. He is the only author/illustrator to ever receive both the Caldecott (for They Were Strong and Good (1941) and the Newberry (for Rabbit Hill (1945).

The last thing I want to point out is that the title of the book is The Little Woman Wanted Noise and not The Little Woman WHO Wanted Noise. I find myself wanting to throw the "who" in there naturally, which is how that kind of title is usually written, but by leaving the "who" out, Teal makes the little woman more active and her title distinct.

To see more scans of the book, check out Ariel's Flickr site. Thanks again, man!

(reprint cover)(original cover)Also by:
Watchwords of Liberty
The Story of Ferdinand


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Friday, August 10, 2012

September Reprints Galore!!!!!!

Here on the last weekday before I go back to work, I was busy mourning my life as a stay-at-home mother. If you'd seen me this morning at my local coffee shop, you'd have thought I was silly, crying while saying goodbye to the joe slingers who'll no longer welcome my days. Just when I was at my weepiest, a couple of wonderful things arrived in the mailbox to perk me up and remind me that the end of one road is the beginning of another.

Can I get a hell-to-the-yes for Phaidon continuing on their majestic road of Tomi Ungerer reprints!?! Smaller in size than the 1973 original, but finished off with a wonderful matte cover and flawless picture reproductions, the Tomi classic No Kiss For Mother will go on sale again in the US next month.

Ten thumbs up and a couple of big toes, too!

That's not the only awesome thing happening in September. I also received a package from Purple House Press containing the much-anticipated reprint of Old Black Witch. So great to hold it in hand and think about all the children who'll get a chance to love this book again! the sought-after Cranberry Thanksgiving and a little Roger Bradfield I'd never seen before called Hello, Rock!.... and in Spanish, too!


I'll probably be giving some of these away in coming weeks, so stay tuned. As for me, I'm onward and upward to bigger and better things! As much as I'm sad that my son is growing up and our days of books and reading and playing are over, I'm thrilled to be embarking on a job that I know I'm going to love and that my son is healthy and happy and growing more and more independent by the hour.

Looking back, I don't regret a minute of it. See you on Monday.


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Monday, August 6, 2012

Winner of the NYRB Give

Oh, and thanks for all the kind words about my reining back the blog. You guys are all super, fricking AWESOME!!!!

In case anyone was wondering, by the highly-precise blind-scroll and point method, the winner of the NYRB Children's Collection fun pack of four is (by pure coincidence and nothing more) longtime reader, DAYSEASE! Congrats and send me your info to webe(at)soon(dot)com.

Have a great Monday, all!


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The Birth of Sunset's Kittens

The Birth of Sunset's Kittens
Carla Stevens ~ Leonard Stevens ~ Young Scott Books, 1969

Because you really can never have enough books about childbirth and animals... and I, personally, never tire of vintage children's books that feature photography in lieu of illustrations. My mother is a big animal lover, and on the property where I grew up, we were never short on cats. We originally started with three Maine Coon cats purchased when I was five, and between those and the various cats -- stray and otherwise -- that accumulated, we topped out at a certain point at around 50 cats at once. Sometimes when spring had sprung, we'd have as many as six new born litters going at once. A little girl's heaven. There is nothing quite as exciting as watching the circle of life played out in such a snugly and adorable way. My son is definitely on born when it comes to the cuteness of certain things -- newborn, small and furry.

Sunset is our cat. She is one year old. Of course you were only a baby when you were one year old, but a cat is grown up at that age. Even though Sunset was a kitten not so long ago, she is old enough to be a mother, and very soon she is going to have kittens of her own.

For those who've never experienced the thrill of seeing a kitty appear from between a beloved pet's legs, you are in for a treat. For those who feel lucky they haven't, better skip the wondrous gore of the ninth spread. (To see the dog version, click HERE.)

The authors were a husband and wife team (she, the former Chairman of the elite Dalton School in New York City, and he, a journalist), and the jacket states that Sunset is the family pet... which leads me to believe the little girl featured was one of their four children. I've said it before, but I love these little snapshots into everyday life of old. Vintage children's books with photos really act as a time capsule of a forgotten moment in time.

The little girl's long hair and flowered dress, playing on the hardwood floor with a litter of lovelies. So cool to see and remember that feeling...


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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Giveaway: Five NEW Books from NYRB

Just a reminder or in case you missed it....

You have five more days to enter the give sponsored by the incomparable New York Review Books Children's Collection, the best children's reprint house in the biz.

A prize package of four great classics: The Backward Day by Ruth Krauss, Three Ladies Beside the Sea by Rhoda Levine and Edward Gorey, Uncle by JP Martin and Quentin Blake, and Pecos Bill. All you have to do to be entered to win this package of awesome is comment here between now and Sunday, August 5 at 11:59 PM CT. A winner will be selected at random and posted the next day.

Remember, click HERE to enter!

Good luck readers!


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