Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gaston and Josephine in America

The story, "Gaston and Josephine in America" by Georges Duplaix, reminds me a lot of the kind of stories my grandmother would tell me at bedtime.
She'd say, "Once there was a little girl who lived in the country and liked picking apples off the trees, and one day she decided to take a train ride to the city where she had fun with her cousin and they saw a movie and then went to the park, etc.."

This type of story rambles on and on implausibly and switches gears without warning, but the illustrations in Gaston and Josephine are worth the trip.

I won't even begin to try to describe every single thing that Gaston and Josephine get into, but I'll show you a few highlights.

To begin with, the two pigs are from France and have presumably come to America to visit their cousins,who live on a ranch in Arizona. They arrive in New York, but immediately become separated from their family and their adventure to become reunited in Arizona starts when they take jobs in a diner. Gaston flips pancakes while Josephine is the best waitress ever:

They get big tips, save their money and hit the road, going by foot to be thrifty, but quickly realize that their progress is way too slow. In one town they encounter three bad men and then in their haste to get away, they grab onto the back of a car.

When they realize that the car is being driven by the robbers, Josephine squeals and the robbers are frightened off, leaving a grateful old millionare in the car, who rewards them with loads of cash as well as the car (who knows how he got back home to his plantation in Louisiana).

They tootle on to Hollywood, where they meet Charlie Chaplin who impulsively invites them to make a movie of their adventures. They film the movie and then head on to their uncle's ranch in Arizona.

They become champion cattle ropers and bronco riders in no time and quickly settle into their southwestern lifestyle:

Eventually their movie hits the local theater and the whole family goes to view it, first crying then laughing. Their uncle asks if they are glad their adventures are over and they declare that they hope there are many many more! Whew!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Peter Rabbit

With this copy of Peter Rabbit illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, we get to see what a previous owner did when a book became shabby.
Normally, I wouldn't bother saving a worn copy of this edition because it's fairly common and easy to replace, but this copy is special.

First the owner punched three holes along the spine that go completely through the book and put little clip rings in each hole, making the book like a notebook, capable of expanding to fit all the projects inside. (I took the rings out in the scans, so I could fit the book on the scanner bed flat).

The cover itself wasn't altered, but as we go through the book, we find lots of enhancements.

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-Tail now have cloth dresses (well, two of them do anyway):

Peter now a has a red cloth scarf and his radish has been fleshed out as well with felt:

I love the use of a woven placemat to simulate Mr. MacGregor's garden fence:

And the onionsack netting to show how trapped Peter is:

The watering can has been covered with tinfoil and the spout, with a clear layer of shiny glue. The handles of the farm tools are pipe-cleaners:

Once Peter finally arrives home, he is tucked under a nice blue cloth blanket and his momma has a pretty lavender ribbon on her bonnet:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Take the Children

In this cute book by Dorothy King from 1951, six children, each from a different country, are aboard a cruise ship, have lost their name tags and need to find their way home.
The illustrations are actually not all that good, but I'm won over by the manner in which the story attempts to teach children geography.

There are (were) six paper dolls, one for each child, and as the ship sets sail and approaches one country and then another, the reader has to decide which paper doll to "drop-off" at each port.

At this point, there are only four paper dolls remaining, two without heads, but I'll try to show you a what I'm talking about.

Here we see the children (paper dolls) excitedly crowded up front on the S.S. Homeland.

And here is our little girl from France finally getting home. There's a little slot in which you're supposed to slip the doll, but I taped the paper doll to the left, so that the name of the country and its geographic attributes would be visible.

And the Italian boy makes it home as well:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How Well Do You Know Picture Books?

Well, just when I was on a roll with sharing my shabby books, my hard drive decided it was done with me.

So until my new drive arrives, I will keep you busy with a little quiz I created about picture books.

Name That Book!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

If Jesus Came to My House

While we're on a religious theme, I'll share this book as well. I'll be honest, most religious books for children turn me off, usually because the illustrations are poorly done or the writing is too saccharine. But this one is actually very cute and I like the sentiment as well.
In this book, a young boy imagines what it would be like if Jesus came to his house as a young boy his own age.

"If Jesus came to my house and knocked upon the door, I'm sure I'd be more happy than I've ever been before.
If Jesus came to my house, I'd like him best to be, about the age that I am, and about the height of me.
I'd run downstairs to meet him, the door I'd open wide, and I would say to Jesus, 'Oh won't you come inside?'

I'd offer him my rocking chair, it's such a comfy seat, and at the pleasant fireplace, He'd warm His little feet.
My kitten and my puppy dog would sit beside his chair, and they would be as pleased as I at seeing Jesus there.
Then I would put the kettle on to make a cup of tea, and we would be as happy and as friendly as could be.

I'd show him all the places that are nicest in the house, the hole behind the stairs, where I pretend that I'm a mouse.
The little window up above where I can stand and see the people passing down below and yet they can't see me.
And then I think I'd show Him the corner in the hall, where I'm sometimes frightened by the shadows on the wall.
I always have to hurry when I'm going past at night, but hand in hand with Jesus I'd be perfectly all right.

I'd show him round the garden and ask Him please to bless, the seeds that I have planted, the peas and watercress.
And if the flowers I'd planted were blooming on that day, I'd pick a bunch of all the best, for Him to take away.
Then while He held the basket I would gather two or three of the ripest rosy apples from my special apple tree.
And all the little birds would come and twitter up above, for joy at seeing Jesus in the garden that they love.

And then we'd play with all my toys, my nicest toys of course, and He should have the longest ride upon my rocking horse.
And with my bricks I'd build for him a palace of His own, and He should be the little King and sit upon the throne.
And when we'd done we'd stack the toys all neatly on the shelf, but first I'd let Him choose the best and keep them for Himself.

And when at last the day was done and shadows crossed the sky, I'd see Him to the garden gate and there we'd say good-bye, And He'd perhaps say, "Thank you for a lovely afternoon," and I would say, "I do hope you'll come back very soon."
And then He'd smile and wave good-bye, and so would end our day, but all the house would seem to smile because He'd been our way.

I know the little Jesus can never call on me in the way that I've imagined, like coming in to tea.
But I can go to His house and kneel and say a prayer, and I can sing and worship Him and talk with Him in there.
And though He may not occupy my cozy rocking chair, a lot of other people would be happy sitting there.
And I can make Him welcome as He Himself has said, by doing all I would for Him for other folk instead.

House Full of Prayers

When I was in fourth grade, I went through a phase in which I would spend most of my class-time making poor man's pop-ups. I would fold a sheet of notebook paper in half, then draw a scene on the top page; usually a diver and a treasure trunk at the bottom of the ocean or an attic and a treasure trunk (I rocked the treasure trunk theme).

Once I had my scene established, I would run a ball-point pen around the outside rim of the trunk lid until the paper would tear easily (no x-acto blades for fourth graders, I did it prison style) and then walla! you had a hinged lid!

Underneath the hinged lid, I'd do my best to draw all manner of enticing baubles and pirate booty. It wasn't very impressive, but it did pass the time and keep my imagination busy. I fancied I might even be a paper engineer one day, although I didn't know the term at that time.

I bring all this up because of a book I just acquired. Published in 1952 by The Standard Publishing Company and illustrated by Vera Kennedy Gohman, it is the grown-up, polished, x-acto blade version of my childhood endeavors (with a fair bit of 1950's sexism thrown in for good measure).

Here we have the sweet charming home of Tommy, Sally, baby, Mother, Daddy and Spot:

And when we peel back the walls, we see what everyone is busy with this fine day:

Down the street is the playground where Tommy and Sally play with their friends:

A sandbox is almost like a treasure trunk:

At suppertime, Mother pulls out all the stops. I don't know if I can scan under the flaps on this one, so I will tell you that the dinner consists of a whole turkey under a silver dome, corn on the cob under a ceramic dome, toast under a dome and cake under a cake dome. Either the pop-up person here was using the domes as a device to engage the reader in this picture or mom really racked up at her bridal shower:

This family never forgets that God is watching. Mother is playing "God is Love" on the piano and if you lift the flap, her next songbook is "Songs About Jesus". Dad gives the girls five choices of religious reading material before bed.

And now it's time to say good-night:

Saturday, April 18, 2009


One of the library sales I attend has a few bookcases of free items and yesterday I found this. The illustrations are by Julian Wehr and it was published in 1962 by McLoughlin Brothers.

By "animated", the book is referring to the movable parts on a few pages. The stories in this collection are Thumbelina, The Elves and the Shoemaker, and The Gingerbread Boy.

From Thumbelina:

From The Shoemaker and the Elves:

From The Gingerbread Man:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I love the little old Rand McNally picture books. Eventually, a book in this format became part of the Junior Elf line, but this one predates that. This story is by Marian Kennedy and illustrated by Edith Reichman.
I love the use of primary colors and the friendly rounded style of the drawings. They bring to mind the word "jolly".
(I guess this book also predates the common knowledge that chocolate is bad for dogs.)

This little dog is Cooky. He has a wiggly tail. He has floppy ears. He belongs to Billy. Cooky likes dog biscuits. He likes milk. But he LOVES cookies.

One morning Cooky ate all his dog biscuits. He drank all his milk. He was still hungry. He sat up and barked. Billy laughed. He opened the cooky jar. The jar was empty.

Cooky was sad, but decided to trot over to Molly's house. But Molly was out of cookies. Then he trotted over to Sally's house and scratched on the screen door. But Sally was all out of cookies.

Cooky went to sit under a tree and presently caught wind of a familiar smell. He ran down the street, past the meat market, past the school, past the grocery store and around a corner, he found a bakery.

He scratched at the door, but everyone was too busy baking to hear him. He could smell hundreds and thousands and millions of cookies. But he couldn't get inside.

By and by a big yellow truck drove up and out hopped the driver. "What do you want?", he asked. Cooky sat up and barked. He rolled over and over. And he stood on his hind legs and danced.

"My goodness!", said the truck driver. He took out a box of cookies. He gave Cooky a big one, a small one, a fat one, a thin one, a hard one, a soft one, a ginger one, and a chocolate one.

After Cooky had eaten his fill, the truck driver took him to the police station where they found Billy and his daddy, waiting.

Cooky was very tired after running so far. He was very sleepy after eating so many cookies. All the afternoon, he lay asleep under the tree in his yard. He smiled in his sleep as he dreamed of cookies.