Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Hey, Al" by Arthur Yorinks, Illustrated by Richard Egielski

When Janitor Al and his best friend/pet Eddie are offered a chance to escape a life of drudgery and dullness for a beautiful paradise, they jump at the offer.  This book is beautiful, really beautiful, and is smartly written.  I love the allusions to classic literature.
This book gets Jack excited, every time.
Miles makes sure to say, "Eddie's a good swimmer." He doesn't like suspense.
(Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1986)

"We Were Tired Of Living In A House" by Liesel Maok Skorpen, illustrated by Doris Burn

I ran away about once a week.  We had a little red Spirit Flyer, and I'd pack up my pillows and some clothes and whatever else I felt like I'd need- including my sister, Rosie, and I'd take off.  I always let my mom know that I was running away, of course.  This family of four children take off after a very naughty morning, and have an exciting day finding a new place to live.  The original book was published in 1969, and Doris Burn did the illustrations, and they are wonderful, although all black and white.  A newer version has been published and is not nearly as winningly drawn.

Miles loves it when the kids decide to live on a pond.  When that home becomes unlivable, they take along a frog who was, "a particular friend."  Miles spent a good five minutes trying to pronounce "particular" in the most wonderful and adorable way.  I sometimes read this story just to hear him stumble over it.
(Longmans Canada Limited, 1969)

"Roxaboxen" by Alice McLerran, Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Roxaboxen isn't your typical children's book.  It's something more beautiful and real than that- a recorded history of a beloved childhood place.  Alice McLerran's mother played with a group of neighborhood children on a rocky hill in Yuma, Arizona, and the story she told her daughter about her adventures in this place they named Roxaboxen is this book.  I think most everyone had a place like this- a place that becomes something else, that dominates a young mind and heart and becomes real.   The landscape of this book is different than many books, and I love the Arizona flora and fauna.  We live close to a desert that resembles the Arizona landscape, complete with spiky ocotillo and yucca plants.
This book led the town of Yuma to create a park where the original Roxaboxen stood- adding only a few new benches, but keeping the grounds much as they were when Alice McLerran's mother played there...although I'm sure they cleaned up some of the glass.
Jack likes the lizard graveyard, having a love for all reptiles, dead or alive.  He also likes to hear about the jail.
(Scholastic Inc. 1991)

"Ox-Cart Man" by Donald Hall Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Adding a Caldecott Award winner seems a little cheap- of course this book is excellent.  I've read it now as part of our homeschooling to Bowden and Lucy- now eight and six- and I read it regularly with Jack and Miles- 4 and 2, respectively.  I love that this book describes a pre-consumer lifestyle that used to be how everyone lived in the western world, but is now so far-removed from most of our experience that they seem like fairy tales.  Flax into linen?  Might as well be straw into gold!
Part of this book, too, appeals to the part of me that wants to be a farmer.  And a shepherdess.
Jack and Miles and I all give a little sigh when the Ox-Cart man sells his Ox.  Tender-hearted city folk that we are.
(Scholastic Inc. 1979)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

"The Maggie B." by Irene Haas

The story begins with Maggie making a wish,

North Star, star of the sea,
I wish for a ship
Named after me,
To sail for a day
Alone and free,
With someone nice
For company.

What I love about this is that her wish is rewarded, and her someone nice is her baby brother. I love to read children stories that show people loving their siblings...what a waste to read a book in which a person is preoccupied with their annoyance at someone else! This book is charming, and if you don't want to sail on the Maggie B. for at least a day, I'll eat a boot.
Lucy loves any book with girls as the heroine.
Jack loves the baby brother, and says, "I be the baby!"
(Scholastic Book Services, 1975)

"First Book Of Sushi" by Amy Wilson Sanger

I love this board book, despite the fact that I can't pronounce a good amount of the words inside. The nice thing about that is my audience has no idea whether or not I'm pronouncing it right. This little book has a wonderful cadence to it, and the pictures are works of sushi art. Every time I read it, I think of my sister and her kids.
Miles will actually sit through this book! He gets angry when I turn the page to read the last sentence on the back cover.
(Tricycle Press, 2001)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Norma Jean, Jumping Bean" by Joanna Cole, Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

There are a million books out there like this, but for some reason, I find this one very pleasurable to read. Norma Jean gets herself into trouble in much the same ways I do. I relate to Norma Jean, who almost allows her wounded pride to keep her from having a good time.
Bowden loves having this read to him. There were a few weeks in a row in which he requested it every day, sometimes multiple times.
(Random House Books, 1987)

"Puppies Are Like That" by Jan Pfloog

Bowden got this book for his first Christmas in 2003 as a board book, and his Aunt Rosie promptly named it, "Puppies are Totally like that." It has been one of Bowden favorites since, and Lucy has recently discovered it. She has a limited vocabulary, but "dah" for dog, is one of her staples.
For any child that like dogs, this book is perfect. It has puppies doing all the fun puppies stuff, and makes you want to hug and kiss and squeeze the puppies. I have also found much opportunity to use sound effects in reading this book, always a plus.

Bowden loves it when you find out what puppies ought not to bark at.
Lucy thinks that this book is worth sitting through three pages, and that's saying something good.
(Random House Childrens Books, 1975)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"Python's Party" by Brian Wildsmith

In this colorful story, hungry Python desires a meal, but the animals, knowing of his hunger, stay away from him. He devises a way to trick the animals into coming near him, and uses their love of fun and entertainment to get them in his belly.
Brian Wildsmith has written a number of books, and I love them all, but this book has such a strange story, and a very backward ending. I actually feel sorry for Python...he never wins.
The illustrations are beautiful, and this book is really a joy to look at. Someone handed down this book to us- thanks!
Bowden loves the tricks the animals do, but especially loves it when Elephant steps on Python's tail. Apparently he does not feel for Python the way I do.
Lucy likes to chew on this book.
(Oxford University, 1991

"Jellybeans for Breakfast" by Miriam Young, illustrated by Beverly Komoda

This book, selling for between 200 to 279 dollars online, was one of my favorites as a child. I don't own it, and before I knew how rare it was or how much it cost, I searched all the Barnes and Nobles, Borders and B. Daltons I could find. I never found it, until I went online and saw how many people loved this book as a child, and now want to own it.
So why is it out of print?
The book is wondeful- full of "what-if"s and treehouses. If I were to write a children's book, it would probably be like this one. In looking it up, you'll find it used as an example of fanciful thinking, of idealism, and of fun, fun, fun.
Bowden has no opinion about this book, and neither does Lucy. Someday I will find this book for 50 cents at a yard sale, print copies of it for all, and NOT SELL IT. What does that say about me?
(Atheneum, 1968)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Tuesday" by David Wiesner

I saw this book in the store, picked it up, and determined to buy it immediately. The frogs in this story are the main characters, taken for an amzing ride. They seem not to know what to do at first, but then settle in good-naturedly, as all frogs do.
This book challenges you to consider what God's creatures are doing while we're asleep. I like how pleasant it is.
Bowden tells me that he has seen frogs on lily-pads, flying through the air outside. This book is worthwhile if only for that.
(Clarion Books, 1991)

"The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses" by Paul Goble

When I first began collecting children's books- after I had become "too old" for them, I had an idea in mind that the books I collected ought to be the kind of books that would make my children better. There were a few important issues that I felt that children's books could make an impact for...namely, the importance of imagination, the joy of asthetics, and the idea of acceptance and diversity as intrinsic in our idea of love.
I think what I am trying to say is that I bought books that I thought were original and beautiful and different...and this book was a perfect example. I love the bold lines and colors of Paul Goble's world, and the story is not one a child would hear often, and it represents a culture that existed right here in our country, but has been largely fogotten by people like me.
I love new fairy tales, and this is a good one.
Bowden loves the horses...he can name them, and he likes to find the other animals as well.
(Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Paperbacks, 1978.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"You're A Winner, Tractor Mac" by Billy Steers

Now, this book isn't drawn better than any other, and it doesn't have the best storyline, but I love what it does have- a world of tractors.
Bowden loves tractors. If we pass one on our walk he begs to be put on it. He has imaginary tractors that he likes to take for rides.
I have no idea where we got this book from, but I do know that the day we first read it to Bowden was a great day, for Bowden.
This book has grown on me. I like that it shows a tractor pull, somthing I doubt Bowden would ever have reason to know about otherwise. Thanks, Tractor Mac, for opening up his horizons.
Bowden now believes that tractors have feelings.
(Dogs In Hats Children's Publishing, 2003)

"Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown, pictures by Clement Hurd

I was never attracted to this book because I judge most children's books by their covers, I admit it, and the colors never drew me in. But, after growing up and having one boy to entertain, we were given a board book of it, and since Bowden would sit for me even as a little tiny baby boy, I read this to him, and he enjoyed it.
Then I heard a lullaby by a country band that talked about this book, and finding the mouse, and I realized how fun this book really is. I love it for how simple it is, how soothing and quiet, and Bowden loves to find the mouse, and screech when it eats the food, and say, "Aaah..." when it looks out the window.
Bowden is not put to sleep by this book, but it is a joy to read.
(Harper Trophy, 1947)

"The Ear Book" by Al Perkins, illustrated by William O'Brian

This book was another hand-me-down from the St. Albans Police Department, and what I love most about it is the rhythm. If read correctly, this book produces such a moving beat that you can't help but sway a bit. It plays with your ears, which I appreciate, in light of what it is about.
Bowden will move to this book, and laugh at the noises, and lean in to hear the soft sounds.
(Random House, 1968)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Curious George And The Puppies" illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey by Vipah Interactive

Now, I believe that this book was made by a computer, or a group of random people, but boy, can that computer make a sweet book. We bought this book for Bowden last year at the marriage retreat because it contained two things Bowden loved- puppies and monkeys, or a monkey.
I had never read the Curious George books before, and I really love how sweet and harmless he is, and how much he reminds me of Bowden, who gets into more trouble before he realizes that that's what he's doing. I actually like this book better than the original Curious George book, but that could be because I read it first.
Bowden just loves this book- because of the monkey and puppies. At the end, the man in the big yellow hat asks George if he wants a puppy of his own, and George does, and Bowden says, "Me, too!"
(Houghton Mifflin, 1998)

"When I Have A Little Girl" by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Hilary Knight

This is the perfect book to read to crazy kids- who are more like goats than anyone with a good child can know.
I bought this book when I was 16, because it spoke to me about how I was, and I now appreciate it for what it says about my son. I think that there is a boy version of this book, but I like the wild little girl, her wild hair, and her fat belly.
Bowden gets ideas from this book.
(Harper Trophy, 1965)

"A Peaceable Kingdom; The Shaker Abecedarius" illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen

"Alligator, Beetle, Porcupine, Whale,
Bobolink, Panther, Drangonfly, Snail,
Crocodile, Monkey, Buffalo, Hare,
Dromedary, Leopard, Mud Turtle, Bear,..."

and so on. This book has the traditional Abecedarius from the Shaker Manifesto of 1882, illustrated winningly by the pair above. I took this book out of the library- I don't even own it! I want to take it, to gaze on it lovingly, and greedily, I know, but I won't. I will share it.
It first attracted me with the title- "A Peaceable Kingdom." If I wrote a children's book, this is the title I would like. And it has the word Abecedarius, which I had never seen before, but shall never for all my days forget it because it is a truly magnificent word, isn't it. Oh, gush, gush, gush.
Bowden likes the different animals, and does not mind that fictional animals, like the xanthos, are put with bears and moths. He doesn't know they're fictional, and why should he?
(Viking Press, 1978)

"Three Men Who Walked In Fire" by Joann Scheck, illustrated by Sally Mathews

And who were they? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, of course. This Daniel 3 super-revised story is part of a series that my mom bought for my sister and I when we were smaller..."Quality Religious Books For Children." I loved this story- my mother took such joy in saying, "Shadrach, Meshach, and To Bed You Go!" at the end of the story reading, if it was bedtime, and sometimes when it wasn't.
The book gives personalities to the three men, and there is no mention of Daniel at all, but I felt comforted by this story then, even in its sillier form.
My mom, possibly thinking it was too silly, wrote in these words at the end of the book, "All of the sudden, their king knew that their God was the One that was true!"
Bowden does not really care about the book, but thinks that fire is neat. (Uh, oh.)
(Arch Books, 1968)

"Wee Mouse's Peekaboo House" by Jean Hirashima

This is, without exception, my favorite board book. It's about a little Momma mouse who plays hide-and-seek with her mousey children, by name, Lou, Mabel, Willow, Tom, Arden, and Marty. What I love most about the book is the mouse's house- it is nearly perfect. It is charming. It is cozy-looking. It has huge scissors on the wall, but I can forgive that, since they are mice. Wee Mouse has a penchant for lovely patterned fabrics and lots of pillows, and I want to visit her, or just move in.
Bowden likes to find the mice children first, but he usually has a problem with little Arden, in the garden.
(Random House, 1991)