Book Reviews

There’s A Book For That! – How To Be An Animal Detective

A few weeks ago, we were walking through Central Park after a major snow storm. It is one of my favorite times to visit the park. The snow blankets everything and mutes sound in a beautiful way. The most noticeable sounds are the snow dropping from heavy tree branches and a few animals that dare to scurry about. If you get outside quickly enough, the snow remains mostly untouched – by humans at least. We were admiring the snow landscape from my favorite park bridge, when we were completely delighted to notice lots of different tracks going across the frozen pond. We made guesses as to what they might be from, but we really didn’t know.

That evening, I pulled a book off my shelves that I haven’t looked at very closely. I stumbled across it a few months ago in a vintage book sale and really only grabbed it because of the illustrator. (I am a bit of a snob about softcovers.) It came to mind while we were wondering about the tracks and I decided to give it a read. It is now a new (old) favorite! If you are ever wandering about and happen upon some tracks that you wish you could identify, there’s a book for that! How to be an Animal Detective by Millicent Selsam, pictures by Ezra Jack Keats, 1958. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 25: An Edwardian Christmas

Merry Christmas! We made it! It is always such a thrill to fulfill my goal of a post a day for nearly a whole month. And it adds to my celebrations and preparations for this joyous holiday. As I fully expect and sincerely hope that no one will be reading this today on such a big holiday, I am simply going to share a new vintage find from the ever amazing Goodall. May your homes be filled with the happy occasion and celebrations like this lovely book: An Edwardian Christmas by John S. Goodall, 1978.

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25 Days – Book 24: The Night Before Christmas (Fujikawa)

Christmas Eve is finally here, and what would this countdown be without a Night Before Christmas book? Thankfully, the world of children’s literature never runs out of new illustrated versions of the famous poem. This is my newest vintage find for this particular day, and it is a good one. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, pictures by Gyo Fujikawa, 1961.

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25 Days – Book 23: Angelina’s Christmas

Day 23 is here and in all the hustle and bustle of finishing out the season, it is a good time to stop and think about those who have no one to share the holiday with. For this there is a book like Angelina’s Christmas by Katharine Holabird, illustrations by Helen Craig, 1985.

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25 Days – Book 22: The Story of Holly & Ivy (Cooney)

Day 22 has arrived and with it a long, lovely picture book. There have been many illustrated versions of this picture book. I have two of them: one illustrated by one of my favorites, Adrienne Adams, and this one. This is the one that I have very specific memories of from childhood. I don’t remember owning this book. It must have been a favorite from the library. But I remember the pictures like I made them myself. They bring a flood of memories. And someone must have read me the story, or perhaps I could read for myself at the time; but this one leaves an impression on your heart. Come enjoy a story about wishing. This is The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden, pictures by Barbara Cooney, 1957/1985.

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25 Days – Book 21: Eloise At Christmastime

“Once there was this little child
You know her I believe
Here’s who she is me ELOISE
And it is Christmas Eve.”

It’s Day 21. Five days to go and Eloise is hopping with the Christmas Eve buzz. It’s time for Eloise At Christmastime by Kay Thompson, drawings by Hilary Knight, 1958/1999. Read the full post…

25 Days – Book 20: Babar’s Christmas Tree

Day 20 brings an old, tiny book from the Babar series. I really love tiny books. While I appreciate picture books in all their forms, I really think there is something special about tiny books. They match their audience perfectly – little hands, little books. I think Beatrix Potter really knew what she was doing with her classic, small books. I have a slowly building collection of tiny books, and while I would love to keep them pristine and precious; I really love to share them with my girls. They adore them. They carry them around, read them to their stuffed toys and dolls, collect them in bags… tiny books are so delightful.

I recently discovered a set of small Babar books. I have a love/hate relationship with Babar. I remember my first Babar book being a little paperback I earned from the reading program at my library. I loved that book, mostly because I earned it. And the anthropomorphized elephants were so fascinating. Babar stories tend to be very odd and have a questionable colonialism tone that has caused controversy over the years. This one ranks in the odd but cute and my three year old loves its simplicity. Take a (tiny) peek at Babar’s Christmas Tree by Laurent de Brunhoff, 1974.

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25 Days – Book 19: Barney Wigglesworth And The Smallest Christmas Pageant

Day 19 of our Christmas picture book countdown. We are so close to Christmas! Today I bring a book from the 80s, but it is new to me. I wanted this book so badly as a kid, but never got it. I don’t know if there were any other Barney Wigglesworth fans out there. That series is still one of my favorites from my childhood. We had mostly Christian themed books in our home and, as I’ve bemoaned before, they don’t tend to be very good quality. Barney Wigglesworth is one of the series that breaks that stereotype. There are four total in the series. I had three growing up and my children adore them now. This Christmas I determined to see if I could find an inexpensive copy of that elusive fourth which just so happens to be the Christmas one. So here it is! Barney Wigglesworth and the Smallest Christmas Pageant by Elspeth Campbell Murphy, illustrated by Yakovetic, 1988.

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25 Days – Book 17: Arthur’s Christmas

Day 17 brings a different Arthur series book than I’ve previously posted. I’m a big fan of Marc Brown’s illustration work, my most favorite probably being his In New York book from 2014, but I’m biased towards NYC literature anyway. I also loved the Arthur television series when I was a kid. But I had never seen this Christmas book about that famed Arthur. I hunted it down via the library and to be perfectly honest, I was kind of meh about it… until the very end. It warmed my heart. Take a look at Arthur’s Christmas by Marc Brown, 1984.

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