Good Books

This year we only had luggage space to bring board books for Ellie Jo. She has the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear that I find impossible to read with any sort of interesting vocal inflection. She has a Richard Scarry book and I’ve discovered that in my family we pronounce the last name as “scary” while in Robin’s family they say “scar-y” – does anybody know the proper pronunciation? There are various books about airplanes, baby animals, jungle animals, daddies and puppies, but I think our favorite books are Mommy Hugs (gorgeous painted illustrations) and Moo, Baa, La La La!

So, I actually enjoy reading about 1/6 of the board books. I fully intend on that fraction increasing when we can have regular picture books around. The following four authors are part of the reason why:

-Graham Oakley. He wrote and illustrated a series about church mice and a church cat named Sampson. I loved checking these books out from the library when I was growing up. The illustrations always entertaining and the text delightfully British (have YOU ever thought of swapping Christmas with the summer Bank Holiday?). Unfortunately, I think most of these books are out of print. Someday Ellie Jo is going to wonder why she only gets a single book for her birthday and nothing else…

-Jill Barklem. I had to look up her name because I really only know the name of the series that she authored and illustrated: the Brambly Hedge stories. Oh! the detailed illustrations. My imagination loved the cut-away views of the mouse homes (ummm, maybe I have a thing for mice) and the adventures in and among the hedge. “When the days are the shortest and the nights are the coldest…” I’m pretty sure my mom has this little poem memorized from all of the times she gave us a dramatic reading.

-Breatrix Potter. Ok, I’ll admit it now…I think that I could have an entire collection of kid’s books about mice. I love the Tailor of Gloucester and The Tale of Two Bad Mice so much that I bought them at Nakumatt last year for ridiculous amounts of money. I think that the stories are so unique. And really, who can resist little mice trying to eat dolls fake food?

-Bill Peet. Perhaps there are some mice in a few Peet books, but he breaks my streak of mouse-themed books. Bill Peet was a Disney illustrator (there! Disney – that’s where mice come in!) who eventually moved into writing/illustrating his own books. His books have funny illustrations and involved stories with lots of text. Plus they have fun names like “The Whingdingdilly” and “How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head.” Wow, just reading through the list of book titles on Wikipedia makes me wish for a well stocked library around here. His books remind me of a less-stylized Dr. Seuss.

So, now, slowly by slowly, I need to begin acquiring these books that I love. Maybe someday Ellie Jo will decide that she doesn’t appreciate them and then I’ll have an excuse to keep them all for myself…


10 Responses to “Good Books”

  1. Oh you! Now all I want to do is go read all those books! I guess we all really like mice books, but maybe it is because they are so small so the illustrations can be so detailed. I remember being able to spend an entire nap time just looking at a couple of pages. So good!

  2. Oh man I love Bill Peet. 🙂 I miss reading those books.

    • The Caboose that Got Loose…Jennifer and Josephine…Farewell to Shady Glade…and Danny-Boy’s all-time favorite: Big Bad Bruce. You used to love those books.

  3. Jill Barklem is THE. BEST. I started reading your post and thought, “Oh, I should mention the Brambly Hedge series in the comments section.” And then there it was! Second on your list! Incredible!
    Some board books Bea always enjoyed were published by Usborne… Duck in Trouble, Duck on Holiday, Duck and His Friends, etc.
    Go, Dog, Go! is fun to read with expression, too (a guilty favorite). And Goodnight, Moon (oh, don’t you wish you had the underline or italicize feature in the comments section; the titles look so funny otherwise) is a wonderful and surprisingly soothing classic.
    And, when she hits her first birthday, the Llama, Llama books (by Anna Dewdney) are h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s up through early elementary.
    What a great topic, Mrs. C.!
    Oop! I forgot one more! The Pigeon series (Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus, Don’t Let Pigeon Eat the Hotdog, etc.) are awesome for applying how to stand against peer pressure.

    • Wow, I’ve never met anyone else who even know of the Brambly Hedge series. That’s so great! Although…leave it to an artistic mind to be familiar with artistic books 🙂
      We’ll definitely have to check out some of those titles you suggested (sans italics/underline) 😉

      And…do you like my hat?



  4. What a walk down memory lane……sweet, sweet times: nursing the next baby while reading these favorites to you “olders” all snuggled up together on the couch or if still pregnant and sick, while cuddled up together on our bed. Don’t forget “Oh Captain Kitty, where have you been?”…… I could “read” that one with my eyes closed. And Tasha Tudor – loved loved loved her books!

  5. I LOVE Bill Peet books — those were SO fun to read to my 2nd graders when I was teaching! The word choice is so rich!
    I hadn’t ever heard of Graham Oakley till my Aunt Debbie (Jordan & Caitlin’s mom) showed me one her kids got her for Christmas (she is collecting them). Apparently she used to read those to her kids and they are a beloved collection by them as well. I must say, in my brief browse through it, it does seem rather entertaining.
    Some of my favorite children’s authors I hope to share with Samuel when he gets older include stories by Patricia Polacco (My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother, The Trees of the Dancing Goats, Some Birthday!, etc) and Cynthia Rylant (Henry & Mudge, Mr. Putter & Tabby, etc.).
    There’s just SO much good children’s literature out there these days — it’s so hard to choose! 🙂

    • Rach, I think there *so* much good children’s literature that each family just chooses their own classics! Every time I read through a “top ten” list of authors/books it’s like “but what about…” “and then there is…” It’s just amazing. So I’ll pick books from my childhood and you pick books from your classroom and then when our kids visit each other they’ll love all the cool books 🙂

  6. It is so funny that there is such a great variety of choices out there. I will have to pick up the ones you’ve mentioned and send you a list of our favorites as well. 🙂

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