Tuesday, March 19, 2013

7 Picture Books From my Childhood Bookshelf

We all know the popular ones...how about the more obscure books or editions?  The ones that other kids might not have had on their shelves, nor may have read?

Galumph is the story of a vagrant cat with many names, and the neighbors who feed him.  I recall being disappointed when someone pointed out that the cat probably lived in ethnically-diverse New York City, not in student-occupied Boston.  I had hoped to find him and become one of his owners.

The Sandwich is a simple story in which two children make a very large lunch by adding ingredients "and some bread" on every page.  The author, this web page reports, was delighted to discover that children liked her books.  I would be, too.

Illustration from The Face in the Pool
The Face in the Pool is a "faerie tale" though not a great one.  The story is about a prince who sees a face of a princess in a pool, and sets out to find the princess.  The illustrations are gorgeous, but the story is weak.
You can actually purchase a newly printed copy from Lulu, but since the main charm of the book was its smell of oldiness, I am not sure you'd want to get a new copy unless you are allergic to old books.

Just So Stories by good old Rudyard Kipling, in an old softcover edition, was the one I remember as a gift from my godfather.  After reading this I expressed an interest in going to India.  My father, who studied eastern philosophy under the great Sahakian, related the story of a classmate who went to India, got off the plane, looked around, and got right back on again.  I hear things are better these days.  The audio book (where was it when I was a child?) is read by Boris Karloff.  So good.

The Arabian Nights in this edition is not really a picture book though there are some line drawings, but the traditional telling of selected tales in descriptive language so clear that the words paint pictures.  The Arabian Nights is a brutal collection of tales, couched in ornate language with sentences of many intricate sub-clauses of great length and complexity.   There may be no better book for finding perfect sentences for diagramming exercises, or simply for introducing a child to the incomparable story-telling tradition of the Golden Age of the Middle East.  Lewis hints of this tradition in The Horse and His Boy, and it is clear that he was a fan of the Nights.

Anatole, is the tale of a very accomplished French mouse.  He is musical, and of course, he is an expert cheese taster.  I loved the names of his children:  Paul and Paulette, Claude and Claudette, Georges and Georgette.  Very French names, indeed.  In a series, Anatole has adventure after adventure.

Curious George Takes a Job is a step above the original.  Of course his curiosity gets him into trouble (a premise I don't much care for), but what fun George has!  He washes windows and dishes, paints a room into a jungle scene, and when he is in the hospital he inhales some ether! Just too funny.  Also?  He can use both hands and feet to do his jobs--what fun, indeed.

No comments: