Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons --Jonny Quest

Story by Horace J. Elias
Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc, 1972

Saturday morning cartoons were a big part of the first 20 years of my life. Just kidding. Sort of. I really liked cartoons and so I probably watched them a bit beyond the age most kids stopped watching them. The real golden age for me was probably in the early 80s when I watched things like the Smurfs, the Snorks, The Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, Flash Gordon, Monchichi and so forth.

Still I've always loved the old school Hanna Barbera cartoons like Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Augie Doggie, Snagglepuss and so forth. One of my all-time favorites was Jonny Quest. I loved this sci-fi adventure series with their groovy hovercrafts and high speed chases. The daring, the action. The cute little dog named Bandit. Apparently the show was inspired by the James Bond film, Dr. No.

Dr. Benton Quest is Jonny's scientist father and Roger "Race" Bannon is Quest's best friend and bodyguard. Dr. Quest is usually developing some new controversial or exciting technology and that often puts him in harm's way, which is what happens in this rather brief little book. Hadji, Jonny's foster brother and best friend doesn't appear in this story.

Beginning and Ending credits for the Original Jonny Quest cartoon:

Friday, January 30, 2009

Little Black Sambo -- Then and Now

Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
illustrated by Bonnie and Bill Rutherford

Western Publishing Company, 1961

I loved this book when I was a kid. As an adult I learned that it's been banned in some places and is considered to be controversial because of racial slurs involving the names of the characters. Apparently the word "sambo" is considered a racial slur in some countries. Furthermore, some versions of the book were illustrated in a caricature fashion that brought racial slurs to African Americans in the US and from that the story fell out of favor. You can read more about the controversy surrounding this book here.

What I loved about the story was how smart the little boy was in convincing the tigers to accept his new clothing items rather than eating him. The very best part of the story, though, is when the tigers begin to fight over the clothing and chase each other around the tree "so fast that you couldn't see their legs at all."

"And they still ran faster and faster and faster, till they all just melted away, and there was nothing left but a great big pool of melted butter (or "ghee" as it is called in India) round the foot of the tree."

Black Mumbo, the little boy's mother, makes pancakes for supper and uses the tiger ghee which makes the pancakes tiger striped.

"And Black Mumbo ate twenty-seven pancakes, and Black Jumbo ate fifty-five, but Little Black Sambo ate a hundred and sixty-nine, because he was so hungry!"

You can read the entire book here.

A few years ago I picked up a new "modern" copy of Little Black Sambo which suggested a PC angle based on the title if nothing else.

By Helen Bannerman, Illustrated by Valeria Petrone
Random House, 2004

The title page offers this note:

Helen Bannerman, an Englishwoman who lived in India for thirty years, made up The Story of Little Black Sambo for her two daughters on a long train ride in 1899. For this edition of Bannerman's story, the little boy and his parents have been given new names.

The illustrations just seem rather simple in a boring way and lack the charm of the book I loved as a child. The one of the tigers is pretty similar though, and in this image you can see them turning into ghi (as it's spelled in this version). The characters' names are: Ramita (mother), Kapaali (father), and Little Rajani. I think the updated names are a nice touch.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Three Bears

The Three Bears, F. Rojankovsky, illustrator
Western Publishing, 1948

Rojankovsky's pictures are rich in color and delicious in detail. They have a sort of rich European feel to them. I love the details in the bears' clothing and accessories and the style of everything within the house.

Feodor Rojankovsky was born in Russia and studied at the Academy of Art in Moscow. During the first World War he served as an officer in the Russian Army. After the war he settled in Poland where, for the next few years, he worked as Art Director-first of the Opera in Poznan, the of Poland's leading fashion magazine, and finally of the Wegner publishing house in Warsaw. Later, in Paris, he received several prizes for his work in advertising design. He has illustrated over forty books, published here and abroad. His artwork appears in many of the Little Golden Books.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The 2009 Newbery and Caldecott Awards

2009 Newbery Medal goes to ...
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The 2009 Caldecott Medal goes to....
The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

To see the honor books and many other awards
check out the official announcement on the ALA site.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

So Much for a Book a Day!

I had grand intentions and books lined up to have their day in the blog-light! Sadly I was struck by an merciless strain of the flu that has pulled the rug out from under me after kidney punching me and stealing my shoes. Yes, I've been a puddle of pathetic for several days now and I am hoping that I'll soon be full strength.

Until then,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crocodiles, Firecrackers, and Orphanages in Africa -- Ahhh... Storytelling.

The Enormous Crocodile
by Roald Dahl Pictures by Quentin Blake
Weekly Reader Children's Book Club Edition
Alfred A. Knopf, 1978

Once when I was young, probably over some holiday weekend, my family stayed overnight at my aunt and uncle's house. It turned into a whole slumber party with my cousin Stacy and her sister Kelly, my brother Jason, my sister Lori and I'm pretty sure there were other cousins there too. I don't know what the occasion was but I do recall Stacy was the oldest and deemed the storyteller. She told us a story about a mean old crocodile who was determined to get rid of some loud pesky kids who lived in an orphanage in Africa because they were always making noise during his afternoon nap. There were firecrackers and other schemes done by the Crocodile every last one failing miserably. In the end, the kids outsmart the mean old crocodile and he's blown up by his own firecrackers all the way to the sun and back.

Years later, as an adult I retold her story and it was different every time. Children I babysat loved the story and asked for it every time I was there at bedtime. Only a few years ago, did I discover that Stacy didn't come up with this story all on her own. She was telling us a heavily modified version of Roald Dahl's The Enormous Crocodile. The essence was the same, but the details quite different. The one part that didn't change was the way the Crocodile was sent flying so far and so high that he hit the sun.

This week I'm doing some kid-sitting again, and we revisited the story Tommy remembered from an earlier babysitting visit. And this time I brought out the original book and we've been having fun reading this one together. Dahl's book has a lot of humor in it. The language is delightful. Blake's pictures are terrific. I love how he captures the scene but adds little details to really show the spirit of the Crocodile, for example.

This book is longer than some "picture books" but it's totally worth the effort. It's probably good I never knew the original story all those years or I would have had a hard time adapting it for my own bedtime story purposes. It's too great in its original state. Still, I thank Stacy for introducing me to it and all the kiddos over the years who kept wanting to hear it until I stumbled upon this copy and fell in love.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And With the Wolf At the Door

Peter and the Wolf
Walt Disney Productions retells Sergei Prokofiev's fairy tale
Random House, 1974

The story is a bit like The Penguin That Hated the Cold in that it was a film first. Walt Disney produced an animated version of the work in 1946, with Sterling Holloway providing the voice of the narrator. It was released theatrically as a segment in Make Mine Music, then re-issued the following year accompanying a re-issue of Fantasia (as a short subject before the film), then separately on home video in the 1990s.

I love the names of the characters: Peter, Sasha, Ivan, and Sonia. I was planning to feature this book soon, but for some reason it seemed appropriate today. In this story a young boy disregards the advice of his grandfather and with the help of some friends manages to catch a dangerous wolf with only a toy gun and his wits. It's a dangerous game and some might say it's a foolish one that almost cost Peter his friend. Still, it is also a story of a boy who is underestimated,and the odds were not in his favor and yet he never wavers and in the end he comes out on top.

On this inauguration day, we say hello to a new President and somehow, despite the dire forecast, the disastrous state of our nation, I have hope. I am counting on him and those in this new administration to be like Peter and to boldly venture out, to use innovation and intellect, and even a bit of bravado to get the job done. I am hoping we can banish those wolves in our midst.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Modern Monday -- Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech

Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech
Harper Collins, 2008

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
Harper Collins, 2001

The story of Jack begins in Love That Dog in Miss Stretchberry's classroom as the students learn about poetry. Initially Jack is very poetry resistant but his teacher introduces him to all kinds of great poets and he has an opportunity to actually meet Walter Dean Myers and all of this has a great impact on the young learner. The novel is a breeze to read since it's written in free verse poetry which feels almost more like a kind of one sided communication (Jack's voice) with his teacher.

In Hate That Cat, Jack is back for another school year and it turns out that Miss Stretchberry's advanced with her students. Jack sees this as a good thing and mentions it would be nice if she did that every year from now on. Of course they are back to learning about poetry and Jack focuses much of his poetic energy on a black cat that is making him miserable. If you loved the first one, you'll enjoy this continuation. Not only is this a book of poetry exploration and a struggle with Jack's feelings toward cats, and his questions about sounds and silence, it looks at Jack's relationship to his mother, just as the first book touched on his relationship with his father.

This is a link to Sharon Creech's "tidbits" page in which she tells all kinds of fun little facts about her books and their inspiration.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Simon Says.

Pocket Simon, Milton Bradley, 1980

It's a memory game that has players pressing the lit buttons in the sequence the machine plays for you. It speeds up and the sequences get longer after each successful turn. There was a full-size version which came out in 1978 but I remember playing with the pocket one. I guess this is the one my family had.

For Everyone Who Loves to Swing!

The Marvelous Monster
Story by Carolyn Joyce, Pictures by Rod Ruth
Whitman Publishing Company, 1977

When Geraldine goes outside to swing she discovers a monster named Mason is on her swing and has no intention of giving it up. She strives to outsmart the monster and when she succeeds his tears remind her of how much better it is just to share.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fire Away

from the Crimes of Passion Album, 1981

One of the first 45 singles I remember caring about. I am not sure what grade I was in -- 5th grade, maybe? I have a distinct memory of sitting in Carrie Longie's bedroom and listening to this record over and over again and dancing around her room. Pat Benetar still gets me fired up (she's all over my workout playlist!)

The Heroic and Spooky Adventures of America's Favorite Floppy-Eared Mutt

A novelization by Allison Thomas
from the original screenplay by Joe Camp
American Broadcasting Company Merchandising, Inc 1975

Back in the day, my parents had Lassie. In my day, I had Benji. You just have to love those celebrity dogs. For some reason I was all about reading the book after seeing the movie, but it's the movie I really remember. I loved that scruffy dog, Benji. I remember the old abandoned house and how he hooked up with his "girlfriend" Tiffany. Other than than that the plot escapes me.

Here's an online summary about the 1974 film:

Benji tells the story of a stray dog who lives in a small Texas town where he has befriended many local people, each of whom calls him by a different name. He gets plenty of food and attention whenever he visits with one of his acquaintances. He meets another stray dog, a diminutive white female with long fluffy hair, and the two dogs form a bond. When two children whom Benji loves are kidnapped and held for ransom, the dogs try to help, and Benji seeks out friendly human beings to assist him in freeing the children.

These are a few pics from the book insert.

Friday, January 16, 2009

No Desserts for You!

The Poky Little Puppy
By Janette Sebring Lowery, Illustrated by Gustaf Tenngren
Simon and Schuster, 1942

This book was one of the first 12 Little Golden Books published in the early 1940s. According to Publisher's Weekly as of 2001, it was the all-time, single best-selling children's book in the English language. (Selling nearly 15 million copies.) I can understand the appeal. After all, it's about puppies and dessert! Two of my favorite things.

In this story the poky little puppy is always lagging behind his disobedient siblings and is somewhat rewarded for his tardiness because he is able to gobble up the desserts that the others were forbidden after their hole digging naughtiness.

Here's a great quote:
"I hear something!" said the poky little puppy.

The four puppies listened, and they could hear it, too. "Chocolate custard!" they cried. "Someone is spooning it into our bowls!"

I love that the puppies are that excited to eat dessert. I didn't even know what rice pudding or chocolate custard were as a child but they seemed exotic and delicious and what puppy or child wouldn't want that? Still they seemed to have a remarkable disregard for following the rules!

Finally his poky behavior caught up with him.
This is one sad little puppy to have missed the strawberry shortcake!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Could Use a Little Sunshine.

Sunshine Fun Family, Mattel, 1974-1982

Meet Stevie, Stephie, Sweets and Baby Boy. They are pretty cute, I have to admit. I am pretty sure this was on my Christmas list one year and when I finally did get my own Sunshine Fun Family I was a little disappointed that all my Barbie clothes wouldn't fit Stephie. She was a different size and I only had her original clothes. Isn't half the fun of that sort of doll, being able to dress them? Ahhh well. I was never too much for Barbies and the like.

A Flat-Billed Prehistoric Scratchafratch?

How Fletcher Was Hatched
by Wende and Harry Devlin

Parents Magazine Press, 1969

When Alexandra starts to pay more attention to the newly hatched chicks, her hound dog Fletcher becomes jealous. He slinks off to the river bank where he finds his best pals, Beaver and Otter, whose advice is to act more like a chicken. Can you peep? Maybe you should hatch? And from those questions a fantastic plan is "hatched." Fletcher's pals construct a giant egg from reeds and pink clay and they helpfully roll him to the school campus the next morning to surprise Alexandra.

Meanwhile Alexandra is nearly inconsolable worried about her lost dog, Fletcher. The entire school is abuzz, the principal and the science teacher are giddy with speculation over the giant egg (note the title of the post), and Alexandra can't be bothered until she sees Fletcher burst free. It's a great little story with heartwarming pictures that have a nice 1970s feel to the illustrations.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Magic Slate

Remember these? Magic Slates all seem to have that cardboard top with a fun cartoon character or TV show star and then small pics down the sides. I remember loving to draw on these and to be able to just pull up the grey plastic page and have it all be a "fresh slate."

These were originally published under the Whitman brand, and later under Golden Books. Each slate is a piece of stiff cardboard, with a sheet of cellophane over a soft waxy surface on the front. Using the included red plastic stylus, a child can draw on the cellophane, and then lift the page to erase and start over.

I've been trying to figure out when these first came out, but the more I read the less I know. I have discovered that the "concept" at least predates Western publishing, I think. Freud wrote an article about the idea of a mystic notepad in 1925. Here's an article about his article. Check it out. It's wild!


Peppy The Lonely Little Puppy
By Fieda Friedman, Illustrated by Vivienne Blake
Rand McNally & Co, 1947

Yes, this is my unofficial "doggie book" week. And this is probably my oldest one. It was one of a my Grandmother's books that she probably bought for my dad when he was a tyke. As a child I remember loving the super colorful pictures and the sweet little dog with his plaid coat and heart shaped name tag.

Peppy loves children and is saddened when the next door neighbor's moving truck pulls up and takes all their things away. They didn't have children but they were always nice to him. Peppy's owners worry that his moping is an indicator that he is not happy there and they consider giving him away to a family who is home more than they are. He REALLY didn't want that. Things turn around for our lonely little puppy when another moving truck pulls up and when it started unpacking he grew excited, wondering if there might be a boy or a girl who would move in next door. To his joy and surprise, there were 25 little children who would be visiting next door regularly since a lovely lady named Miss Anderson would be opening a school for small children. Ah, yes, the story ends well for sweet little Peppy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

He Flies Through the Air, With the Greatest of Ease...

That daring, cartoon mouse, on his flying trapeze!

We had one of these "Tricky Trapeze" toys made popular in the 1960s. Produced in Hong Kong by Kohner. I'm not sure if ours was of the 1960s or 1970s. It looked more like this and this is different from the earliest version. They made Goofy and Donal Duck versions too, as well as some Tricky Trapeze toys for various superheroes!

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion,
Pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham
Harper Collins, 1956

Harry hates taking a bath and so he buries his bath brush in the backyard. Then he sets off in an adventure around town, somehow managing to get so dirty that instead of looking like a white dog with black spots, he becomes a black dog with white spots. His family didn't recognize him when he returned home. He's forced to unearth the brush and beg for a bath before the family realizes he is their beloved Harry.

The last photo is my favorite. It's quite reminiscent of the last page of yesterday's book. Apparently all dog books need to have an illustration with a dog contentedly curled up on his bed.

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin