Thursday, March 21, 2013

Paris Line by Line

Robinson ~ Universe, 2013

What an exciting time it is to be a mother, especially one who loves to buy books, read books, and share books for, to, and with her child. Holding onto seven years old for another month, my son is still possessed by audio books (hometown boy Rick Riordan his perennial go-to listen), is still obsessed with all things graphic novel (Amulet, Big Nate, Astrix with comics like Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield and Lil' Abner's Shmoo sprinkled in), still loves to pull out pictures books for me to read to him (tonight was Moon Man, An Anteater Named Arthur and One Monster After Another)... all while using his alone time to read chapter books in Spanish to himself (Big Nate El Grande and Captain Calzoncillos y el ataque de los inodores parlantes) and then cap off the night snuggled in his bed reading Harry Potter. Though the boy has always loved books, spending the first two years of his academic life reading primarily in a language he didn't understand majorly curbed his love of reading to himself there for a while, so I'm happy to see it finally catching on!

On the flip side, he's also discovered all sorts of less literary things like Dr. Who (the tenth doctor is his fave) and Pokemon (he's never owned a card, played the video game or seen the show, he just likes looking at the characters in the Pokedex) and Where's Waldo (including finding on his own the disruption-inducing X-rated sketch tucked among the images). Which leads me to my post today. An adult (though not that kind of "adult") version of Where's Waldo, that's one part M. Sasek and one part Eloise with a wee bit of Martin Hanford (the randy) sprinkled in.

Illustrated by celebrated mid-century architectural illustrator Robinson (born Werner Kruse) in the early 1960s, after Rizzoli re-released his book New York Line by Line a few years back to much acclaim, they followed up that success by reissuing this a few days ago. Paris Line by Line was send to us by the publisher a while back and has been perused for a month plus by everyone in the house, daddy included.

From the forward in the original edition...

"Joie de vivre" are the key words of this old and yet so astonishingly young city. Nothing displays this better than the fine defense displayed in the clochard's retort to an impertinent stranger: "My bottle is not half empty, as you claim--it's half full!"

Paris Line by Line is a visual masterpiece. An intricately illustrated tour of Paris, each little line drawing holds all sorts of hidden treasures, making every read a new celebration. Notre-Dame with its stone gargoyles and kings. The Paris Opera in cutaway. The city by night. Mod hipsters.

Though it would be impossible to bottle up all the romance of Paris and house it in book form, this one comes pretty damn close.

Large and wonderful. Perfect.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Wicked Pigeon Ladies in the Garden

The Wicked Pigeon Ladies in the Garden
Mary Chase ~ Don Bolognese ~ Borzoi, 1968

I have no memory of knowing this book as a child (unlike this rabid fan), but I've certainly enjoyed it as a read aloud to the boy for a number of nights. And it was most definitely the sort of book that I would have loved as a young one. I found it on the library shelves and picked it up based solely on the awesomeness of the cover. Little did I know it was a collector's item and a little-known cult classic. The aforementioned rabid fan does a better job of telling the author's history (Tony-winning playwright and screenwriter of Harvey) and replaying that Knopf republished the book in the early 2000s (under the name The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House), so I'll stick with my own impressions of the story.

Let's just say if garden gnomes never freaked you out before, they will now.

Maureen is a troubled child. Known for being a bit of a bully and all-around wretch.

Maureen Swanson was known among the other children in her neighborhood as a hard slapper, a shouter, a loud laugher, a liar, a trickster, a stay-after-schooler. Whenever they saw her coming they cried out, "Here comes the Old Stinky," and ran away.

Known for being kept after class and having to write "I must not start fights on the school ground" on the blackboard, she is everyone's least favorite brat. But one day she sneaks onto the grounds of the neighborhood haunted house and meets a leprechaun.

Now there are two kinds of people in the world who behave in two different ways when something unexpected happens. Most people take a step backward. A few step forward with a clenched fist. 

Maureen was one of these.

This pretty much sums up Maureen's reaction to just about everything that happens in this book. It ends up she is trespassing on ghost-ridden soil and angers the spirits of a gaggle of seven of sisters who live inside their portraits and can transform into pigeons and cause a whole mess of trouble. Things really ramp up when menacing Maureen steals something from the sisters, and things spiral out from there.

The illustrations are sparse but excellent and help to bring this killer spooky story to life. There are lessons here in taking responsibility and learning the virtues of lending a helping hand, but mainly it is a juiced-up ghost story involving lots of time travel and mystery. Full of all sorts of awesome.


Read along on FacebooktumblrTwitter and Etsy.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Dragon in a Wagon and Other Strange Sights

Janette Rainwater ~ John Martin Gilbert ~ Golden Books, 1966

Happy Sunday kids! What did I miss? It's been a busy week, but that's no excuse for not at least coming to say hi! Still, if I can make it once a week, I'm all the better for it. So without further ado... meet the dragon in the wagon and the duck in the truck and the knight with a kite, etc, etc....

For scans of the full book, see the always-missed Golden Gems.


Read along on FacebooktumblrTwitter and Etsy.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...