Eleanor Estes/Moffat Books

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Return of the Twelves

The Return of the Twelves
by Pauline Clarke
(1962, 296 pages)

I think our 8-year old read this literally 12 times in row. (At age 11, she still likes it.) Similar in concept to the (later) Indian in the Cupboard books. The very cool thing about this story is that it is about the set of toy soldiers actually owned by the Bronte children, around which they created an elaborate fantasy game. The soldiers are rediscovered by children living near the old Bronte house. I won't give the rest away.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Little Golden Books

Many of the classic Little Golden Books are in print and readily available. I saw a display this morning in the grocery check-out line. And many more can be found from used book sources.
Here are some classic titles from Random House's website:

Poky Little Puppy
The Shy Little Kitten
Richard Scarry's Best Little Word Book Ever
The Little Red Hen
The Happy Man and His Dump Truck
Thomas Breaks a Promise
Walt Disney's Cinderella

I'm a Truck
Walt Disney's Bambi
The Monster at the End of This Book

For fans, here's more from RH:

When Little Golden Books launched in 1942 at 25 cents each, they changed publishing history. For the first time, children's books were high quality and low-priced. They were available to almost all children, not just a privileged few. Little Golden Books were designed to be sturdy (a new concept), delightfully illustrated, and to be sold not only in bookstores, but department stores and other chains (another new concept).

Little Golden Books were an instant success story, even though WWII was on and paper shortages loomed. Five months after the launch, 1.5 million copies had been printed, and LGBs were in their third printing.

Since then, over two billion Little Golden Books have reached the hands of children all over the world. Who hasn't heard of The Poky Little Puppy, star of the best-selling Little Golden Book of all? It has sold well over 15 million copies worldwide, in many different languages. Tootle the Train, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, The Shy Little Kitten, The Little Red Caboose, The Tawny Scrawny Lion, and Scuffy the Tugboat soon followed, to become household names.

Little Golden Books have mirrored children's popular culture over the years, having featured Lassie, Raggedy Ann, Uncle Wiggily, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Howdy Doody, Annie Oakley, Captain Kangaroo, Bozo the Clown, Gene Autrey, The Lone Ranger, Smokey Bear, Disney, Warner Brothers, Hanna Barbera, Sesame Street, Pokemon, and Between the Lions characters, Mister Rogers, Barney, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Underdog, Peter Cottontail, Barbie, and others. Dr. Ruth Westheimer has just penned a story about grandparents starring herself.

Many famous writers and illustrators created Little Golden Books, notably Margaret Wise Brown, author of GOODNIGHT MOON (Harper). Her LGBs were often illustrated by Garth Williams, most famous for his illustrations for CHARLOTTE'S WEB, STUART LITTLE, and the "Little House" series. Richard Scarry began his career at Golden Books and did most of his most famous books here, from Little Golden Books to his beloved oversized books CARS AND TRUCKS AND THINGS THAT GO, and RICHARD SCARRY'S BEST WORD BOOK EVER! Eloise Wilkin, famous for her stunning paintings of cherubic children, illustrated dozens of LGBs. Caldecott medalists James Marshall, Tibor Gergely, Leonard Weisgard, Alice and Martin Provensen, and Trina Schart Hyman have illustrated Little Golden Books.

Today, Little Golden Books are an icon. The Smithsonian Institution includes Little Golden Books and artwork in its Division of Cultural History.

A House is a House for Me

by Mary Ann Hoberman
(1978, 48 pages)
A hill is a house for an ant, an ant.
A hive is a house for a bee.
A hole is a house for a mole or a mouse
And a house is a house for me!

A web is a house for a spider.
A bird builds its nest in a tree.
There is nothing so snug as a bug in a rug
And a house is a house for me!

So starts one of my favorite picture books of all time. The musical, galloping meter propels us through every manner of "house." The illustrations are intricate and inviting to look at, providing lots of content for little ones to ask and talk about, without being overtly educational:

An igloo's a house for an Eskimo.
A tepee's a house for a Cree.
A pueblo's a house of a Hopi.
And a wigwam may hold a Mohee.

The author gets carried away and predicts that you will, too:

And once you get started in thinking this way,
It seems that whatever you see
Is either a house or it lives in a house,
And a house is a house for me!

You'll enjoy A House is a House for Me at least as much as your child does.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Can Read It All By Myself

Some vintage Beginner Books~

A dog party! A big dog party!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet

by Eleanor Cameron
(1954, 195 pages)

The imaginations of two boys, David Topman and Chuck Masterson, are captured by the following ad in their local paper:

WANTED: A small spaceship about eight feet long, built by a boy, or by two boys, between the ages of eight and eleven. The ship should be sturdy and well made, and should be of materials found at hand. Nothing need be bought. No adult should be consulted as to its plan or method of construction. An adventure and a chance to do a good deed await the boys who build the best space ship. Please bring your ship as soon as possible to Mr. Tyco M. Bass, 5 Thallo Street, Pacific Grove, California.

This book appeals equally to both boys and girls, even to those who do not generally like science fiction. And no one who reads it will ever forget Mr. Bass.

Click here for more information, including links to the Amazon reviews (but watch out for spoilers).

"B" is for Betsy

"B" is for Betsy
by Carolyn Haywood
(1939, 144 pages)

Children, parents, and grandparents will be touched by the simplicity and innocence of childhood which Carolyn Haywood brings to life through six-year-old Betsy. She has just arrived at school for the first day of first grade, and is feeling fearful:
"If I got up now and ran out the door," thought Betsy, "I could catch Mother. I could be out in the sunshine again with Mother and take hold of her hand. I could tell Mother that I don't want to go to school, that I know it is a terrible place, Old Ned said so." But Betsy knew that she couldn't do that.
How she gets through this first day and the rest of the school year is the subject of this charming story. Betsy's home and school life, her everyday problems and joys, are presented from her six-year-old point of view. Nothing "big" happens in this book, but children will connect with the commonplace yet meaningful experiences of Betsy's childhood. The author has provided the perfect illustrations for the story.


John Christopher wrote The White Mountains (192 pages), the first book in this riveting series, in 1967. Elements include alien invasion, loss of free will, fighting against impossible odds. Lots of suspense and intensity. It is not necessary to be a sci-fi fan to be enthralled by this series.

For reviews, go to Amazon, but watch out for spoilers.

Eloise Wilkin

Illustrator of Little Golden
Books from the 40's to
the 80's.

Most of us will recognize the characteristic Wilkin child.

Loganberry Books has a great page about Mrs. Wilkin.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Snow Queen

(this edition: 1993, 48 pages: story originally published 1845)

by Hans Christian Andersen

A very beautiful story for intermediate readers, or younger listeners, this is one of Andersen's longer fairy tales. Classic conflict of good and evil, innocence and experience, loss and recovery of love.

Illustration is from the Mary Engelbreit edition.

Little Fur Family

by Margaret Wise Brown

A cozy picture book for the very young. Poetic and evocative.

Amazon product description:

The Little Fur Family tells the story of a little fur child's day in the woods. The day ends when his big fur parents tuck him in bed "all soft and warm," and sing him to sleep with a lovely bedtime song.

Cuddle up to a classic with this timeless story! Garth William's soft illustrations join Margaret Wise Brown's rhythmic text to create a gentle lullaby. Bound in imitation fur, Little Fur Family is sure to comfort and delight.

Description refers to the miniature, fur-covered edition. The book is also available in a regular edition.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Maria Chapdelaine

by Louis Hemon
(1913, 132 pages)

Suggested for young adults (and adults). Kind of a "Little House in Quebec." Set in the early 1900's in sparsely populated Quebec, land of pioneers, loggers, trappers, farmers, and long, long winters. The talented Hemon visited this remote country, living and working with its people, and wrote the book in 1913.

The Chapdelaine family (fictional but loosely based on real people) conducts their family life in a warm bubble amidst the hostile environment of primitive Quebec. The depictions of the brutally cold climate and the courage and back-breaking physical labor necessary to survive in it are compelling. But the simplicity of the Chapdelaines and their friends, their relationships, and their faith in God, are what gives this book its beauty.