Friday, April 10, 2009

The Bunny Book by Richard Scarry

Richard Scarry, Western Publishing Company, 1965

This book is more informative than anything. Simple descriptions and explanations introduce young readers to the variety of characteristics that make up the bunny. This book appears to have many different cover options, but it's the content I care about. I simply adore this "Rabbits have large families" image.

Young readers will learn that some rabbits have giant ears and some have tiny ones and rabbits can run very fast. The book also focuses in on a few rabbit examples: the snowshoe rabbit turns white in winter and brown in summer, Angora rabbits have soft, cuddly fur. Lop-eared rabbits have long, floppy ears. Then on one page five different breeds are illustrated: Dutch, Chinchilla, Flemish Giant, Vienna Blue, and Cottontail. Ah yes, this is more than just your "Easter bunny" book. Though there is a page dedicated to that too.

There is only one "true to form" busytown looking page with two little bunnies dressed to the nines. "Rabbits like to get all dressed up if they are going to be in a story book." Yeah, you can't beat that!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Golden Egg Book

The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Lilian Obligado, Western Publishing Company, 1947

I've managed to pull together a handful of bunny books in time for Easter and trust me, there are more. It turns out that bunnies and rabbits are a great subject for the children's book.

This Little Golden Book is a lovely story about a duck and a bunny. It begins with bunny finding a mysterious egg and wondering what is inside. In his impatience, he pushes it with his foot, rolls the egg down the hill, throws rocks at it and finally gets so worn out from wondering and waiting that he falls asleep.

Of course, a watched egg never hatches but when bunny sleeps, duck emerges. Duck is mystified by this furry thing beside his egg and he tries to rouse it by doing all the same things bunny did to the egg... nudges him with his foot, throws a rock, rolls him down the hill until finally the bunny wakes and the two embrace and no one was ever alone again!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

Dorothy Kunhardt, Golden Books Publishing, 1940

I distinctly recall this 18 page Golden Touch and Feel book from my younger days. Anything scratch and sniff was hugely exciting for me, and this book had all sorts of sensory treats. I love this sandpaper jaw image how Judy can feel daddy's scratchy face. Readers can play peek-a-boo with Paul or look in the mirror and my flowers still smell fragrant.

For years this was a standby for a baby gift since I'd found the softest sweetest bunny to go with the book. It's been awhile since I've seen Pat the Bunny dolls but if I find some I may need to stock up. Those friends of mine keep on having the babies and babies must be given books!

"My mother wrote "Pat the Bunny" in 1940 when I was 12. "Wrote" is not quite the right word, even though the book is 135 words long; "made" would be more accurate. Before "Pat," books for very little children were for reading aloud and looking at. This one was for playing with as well. Right on the pages themselves were a variety of real things all babies love to go after. There was a fluffy little cottontail to pat, a peekaboo cloth to pick up and peep behind, a red ball that squeaked, a shiny mirror to look into, a daddy's scratchy beard to feel, a miniature book about a bunny with pages to turn and a mother's wedding ring to stick a finger through. It was the original "touch and feel" book, as they call the genre in the trade today, and even though it has inspired a hutch of imitations, Golden Press still goes on cutting and gluing and stamping out and hand-finishing a quarter of a million new copies of "Pat" each year, annually using up acres of sandpaper beard, six football fields of peekaboo cloth and enough metalized polyester to mirror over a small lake...."

Check out the rest of this article by Philip B. Kundhardt Jr. about Pat the Bunny's 50th anniversary, back in 1990! Good stuff!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Modern Monday -- La Cucaracha Martina: A Carribean Folktale

La Cucaracha Martina A Carribean Folktale
retold and illustrated by Daniel Moreton
Turtle Books, 1997

Simply put: While searching for the source of one beautiful sound, Martina, a ravishing cockroach who is tired of the city life, rejects marriage proposals from a menagerie of city animals which woo her with their noises. All ends well when she finally meets the cricket of her dreams and after the wedding they move to the country.

The illustrations are sharp and colorful and were created on a Mac with Adobe Illustrator. The book has a ton of delicious details and a spattering of Spanish: Aeropuerto, Telefono, Autobus... by way of example. The signage in particular is all in Spanish, and the porcine waiter wears a name tag which reads "Me Llamo Puerco."

The sounds the various animals make are all written in large funky fonts and the illustrations feature text all over the place, not exactly in the hyper text sense but in something fresh and unusual from the picture books of the past.

While I'm not a fan of the common cockroach in regular life, I have a soft spot for Miss Martina and I'm glad she found her wonderful noise and the creature that belonged to it!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The King of the Elephants

Laurent de Brunhoff, Random House, 1973

As they move through the four seasons in and around Celesteville, the city of elephants, we see the lives of Babar and Celeste and their children--Alexander, Pom, and Flora. We meet Old Lady (also their teacher) and cousin Arthur and his friend Zephir, the monkey.
This is a family "on the go" and we follow Babar and Celeste from the domestic fun of gardening to tennis, warm days of swimming in the lake to throwing parties at Celesteville gardens. Sometimes they go sailing or for drives in the country. The children enjoy soccer and like their teacher who is not strict. In the winter they go ice skating, and downhill skiing and one of the children suffers a small mishap which requires a doctor visit. "This is not too serious," he says. Though I think the wound looked pretty nasty!

I really don't remember Babar from my youth though I seem to have a few books. I guess I was always vaguely aware of this French elephant. I think I'm more intrigued by him and his family now than I was when I was small. This particular 8 X 8 book is a sanitized and simplistic version of the Babar stories which merely serves to intoduce the characters.

I realize now that Laurent is the son of the original author, Jean de Brunhoff. Jean first published his popular French children's book in 1931. He wrote six more before his untimely death and his son Laurent has continued the series.

Jean de Brunhoff's Babar books, and the titles of the English translations, were:

* Histoire de Babar (1931) - The Story of Babar
* Le Voyage de Babar (1932) - The Travels of Babar, or Babar's Travels
* Le Roi Babar (1933) - Babar the King
* L'ABC de Babar (1934) - A.B.C. of Babar
* Les vacances de Zéphir (1936) - Zephir's Holidays, or Babar and Zephir
* Babar en famille (1938) - Babar and His Children, or Babar at Home
* Babar et le père Noël (1941) - Babar and Father Christmas

You can read more about Babar's history here, on the TV website-- Babar is also a popular TV show.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

In a People House

In a People House by Theo LeSieg
Illustrated by Roy McKie

Random House, 1972

Even in this remarkably simplistic book, Dr. Seuss uses rhyme and rhythm to capture the attention of his young readers as mouse gives bird a tour of the "people house."

"These are doughnuts. Here's a door. Come along, I'll show you more...."

One of my favorites is a page with baked beans, bureau drawers and books, and mini me crossed OUT the word bureau and wrote "dresser" because I was apparently concerned someone might not understand that word since it wasn't the one --I-- used in describing that bit of furniture. I love my young editorial marks in books, they really crack me up!

Friday, April 3, 2009

R is for Remarkably Cute.

Richard Scarry's Chipmunk's ABC by Roberta Miller
Illustrated by Richard Scarry, Western Publishing Company, 1963

I love Lowly Worm and the rest of the Richard Scarry gang, but I think my heart will never be the same after looking through these darling pictures. His work is softer and more tender in this ABC book from 1963. I love the head bandage, the picture of cheese on the wall, the way the mouse's records are strewn about, and how his pal chipmunk is saying hello from the window, because "Mouse has Mumps!"

My cover is the white one, and the woodsy one seems to be an earlier copyright. I just couldn't scan all the pictures in, but I ADORE the one with Froggie playing the oboe and Donkey drinking from an orange up. Something about these animals in bibbed overalls, in life jackets on the lake, carrying tea kettles and getting phone calls just makes my heart pang.

Here is a comparison between the pages of a 1963 and a 1991 version of Richard Scarry's The Best Word Book Ever. Very interesting stuff. Scarry wrote and/or illustrated over 300 books.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Picnic Hurrah!

A Picnic Hurrah! by Franz Brandenberg
Illustrated by Aliki, Random House, 1978

This book probably counts as a beginning reader but it's not labeled as such and for me, it was just a great story. Writing letters was a very big thing for me when I was a kid and so I'm sure the idea of sending out invitations and watching the mail for responses was something that resonated. I also love the imaginative way that Elizabeth and Edward handle their picnic plans that were spoiled by the rain. Their father suggests an indoor picnic, and I can only imagine mini me loved the idea of doing things differently, an INDOOR picnic? How absurd! They don't let it stop their fun and they find ways to still do all the things they wanted to do outside.

Here's a sweet Harper Collins link to How a Book is Made featuring Aliki.

Aliki, or Aliki Brandenberg, was born 1929, in Wildwood Crest, NJ; Education: Graduated from Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now Philadelphia College of Art), 1951. Hobbies and other interests: Macrame, weaving, music, baking, traveling, reading, gardening, theater, films, museums. Muralist and commercial artist in Philadelphia, PA, and New York, NY, 1951-56, and in Zurich, Switzerland, 1957-60; commercial artist, writer, and illustrator of children's books in New York, NY, 1960-77, and London, England, 1977—. Has also taught art and ceramics. She was also married to the author of this book! Hurrah!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure

Deadwood City by Edward Packard
Illustrated by Paul Granger
Bantam Books, 1978

You are the star of the story! Choose from 37 possible endings! I do find it somewhat annoying to read a book in "second person" or whatever this point of view is actually called. I do like that the main character shown in the pictures is a cowgirl, a gun-toting girl.

Edward Packard, practicing lawyer and the author of this book, conceived of the idea for the Choose Your Own Adventure series in the course of telling bedtime stories to his children. This title is just one I picked up at a thrift store, but I remember reading these as a kid. I scanned the list of titles for a familiar one but nothing is triggering a memory. Here are a few of the wonderful adventures YOU could go on:

The Cave of Time
Journey Under the Sea
By Balloon to the Sahara
The Third Planet for Altair
The Mystery of Chimney Rock
The Lost Jewels of Naboo

Hippity Hoppity!

Man, I love that outfit. I totally remember it too. Apparently I had a strong connection to my clothes even then. I sort of wish my mom had done something different with my hair. It looks like me and my bro have the same 'do. Nice.

I may be wrong, but I think this is 1979.
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin