Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cyndy Szekeres, Western Publishing Co., 1983

Found this little gem at my friend Jenny's house. I had not idea who Cyndy Szekeres was but examination proves I'm quite familiar with her work and I love it. I have a soft spot for mice and the ones in this little counting book are as cute as it gets!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fisher Price Little People

Fisher Price Play Family "A" Frame House, Fisher Price, 1974

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit some friends and spend time with their family. Their youngest asked me if I wanted to play "Little People" and I seized the opportunity. Soon he was lugging a plastic tub of people and vehicles and next the castle appeared and what looked like a Main Street set complete with stop signs and a blue postal box. We started setting everything up and then I said, "Wait, I'm going to go out to my car and get my "Little People" house." The look on Griffin's face was priceless... his little kid brain was whirring.... She carries "little people" stuff around with her in her car??? In truth, I'd just picked up the A-Frame House at a garage sale and it came without it's door and any furniture or people. Though I just found a site where I can order those things piece by piece! I love its sliding glass doors, such a nice touch!

We created a park next door to the house.

They have the castle and so do I, but they seemed to have more of the pieces that went with it. Even in the Fisher Price playsets I had as a child I have managed to lose most of the beds, people, thrones, etc.

I'm not even sure which set this one is. But I love it!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's my Birthday! Yippee!

My 7th birthday. Mom made our hats.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Old Witch and the Polka-Dot Ribbon

Wende & Harry Devlin, Parents Magazine Press, 1970

I loved the Cranberryport books by the Devlins when I was young and I just discovered Old Witch and the Polka-Dot Ribbon by Wende and Harry Devlin and I'm sort of surprised I didn't read this one when I was young since my parents seemed to have collected all of the Parents' Magazine Press books. Their illustrations are very distinct and while they aren't my typical aesthetic there's a kind of nostalgia there that I can't ignore.

Old Witch lives in the attic of the Jug and Muffin Tearoom in Oldwick. One day she wakes up to discover Nicky and his mother baking a cake for contest. The contest is part of a fundraising carnival aimed at raising funds for a new bandstand. Old Witch raises some havoc in the kitchen until she's banished and she sulks outside muttering little rhymes like the one in the next illustration.

Finally Old Witch gets an idea to enter the contest herself and she unwittingly discovers some contest fraud and solves the problem in her own unique way. The story is full of clever, wry language that makes me chuckle and like all Devlin books it comes complete with a recipe for Old Witch's Magic Nut Cake.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Modern Monday -- Just Being Audrey

Margaret Cardillo, author; Julia Denos, illustrator
Balzer + Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2011

I discovered this picture book on the newly arrived shelf at our local library and I snatched it up, read it once and now it's on my "must-have" list. I love Denos' illustrations, and the simple story really captures the greatness of Audrey Hepburn. I've long loved this classic actress for her style, her quirky mannerisms, and her fantastic movies. One of my favorites is Charade with Cary Grant. I recently purchased a book for "grown-ups" called Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson.

The story begins with a ten-year-old Audrey who dreams of becoming a ballerina. It describes how she and her family survived WW II in Europe and how following the war she and her mother moved to London where Audrey traded her dreams of dancing for the reality of being an actress. The illustrations capture Miss Hepburn's classic look--her hair, her expressions, and some of her most notable acting roles (Funny Face, Sabrina, My Fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffany's and more) and the costumes that defined them.

Here's a short trailer for the book with even more illustrations!

And because it's just not right to pay tribute to Audrey Hepburn through a children's book without a glimpse into the real life wonder, here's the original trailer for Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stay Gold, Ponyboy.

The Outsiders, Francis Ford Coppola, 1983

Coppola's film is based on S.E. Hinton's classic book, first published in 1967. I read the book before I saw the movie, as it should be. I was in 5th grade. I still remember where I was when I finished the final pages. Sitting in the van outside my aunt and uncle's house. We were gathered for some event, a holiday meal perhaps. I had to compose myself before I could go inside because I was crying so hard--the kind of cry where tears splash down on the neck and there aren't enough tissues to really mop up the sorrow.

I watched this film again on New Year's this year and I was reminded of the power behind both the film and the book. The all-star nature of the cast is almost unbelievable: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, and Tom Cruise and I'd nearly forgotten Diane Lane as Cherry Valance.

As an English teacher I usually touch on some Robert Frost poetry in my American Literature class and I'm always impressed when students recognize "Nothing Gold Can Stay" and make the connection between The Outsiders (whether film or book) and the poem.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I believe it was S.E. Hinton who really kicked off the era of "young adult literature." If you've not read the book or seen the movie, though I find that hard to believe, it's about a group of kids, "greasers," who are from "the wrong side of the tracks" in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They constantly clash with the Socs, the preppy kids in town. It has all the 60s good stuff like drive-in movies and rumbles. Great nicknames like Ponyboy, Two Bit, and Sodapop. And then there's Johnny. Everyone loves Johnny. Without saying too much more, I'll just add that it's a tragic, yet feel-good drama that reminds us all of the power of friendship, resilience, and the challenges life throws at us.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Love Those Little Golden Books

Ryan Novelline, designer, 2011

Apparently I'm not the only one. I just ran across this gem in the School Library Journal. Artist, Ryan Novelline used approximately 1500 pages from 300 Little Golden Books which he found at thrift stores and sewed together with golden thread. There are AMAZING pictures of this wild dress here on his site. Do check them out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Messy by Barbara Bottner

Barbara Bottner, Delacourte Press, 1979

Messy by Barbara Bottner is the story of Harriet, the messiest six-year-old girl around. Mostly she's okay with her mess, but she's aware of the stark contrast between her messy ways and those of her friends and ballet classmates. However, Harry's esteem soars pretty high, much like her quality dance moves, when she's praised by her dance teacher, Mrs. Markova, and when she is offered the role of princess in their recital she vows to become a changed woman... or six year old. It mostly works.

It's a simple book--nothing profound--but I've been looking for this one for years. I've found little evidence of its existence online (one reference with no images on Amazon) and then one day I managed to find a copy through inter-library loan. There is satisfaction in simply knowing I didn't "make this book up" in my brain.

Monday, April 4, 2011

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