In lieu of the new trailer that just came out for Spike Jonze's film adaptation for, "Where the Wild Things Are," (which looks amazing since they decided to knock off the CG character attempts), and the upcoming 3D animated, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" (which, I already fear, looks atrocious), I have compiled a list of children's books to celebrate those wonderful stories and illustrations that I have cherished so much over the years. And will continue to, no matter what my age.
My mom is the one I should give all the credit too. She always encouraged me to read early, and to appreciate the many facets of a good children's book. Just because it was meant for the young, doesn't mean it didn't have artistic value. To this day, she refuses to throw out or give away any of her favorites.
For awhile I thought about being a children's book author or illustrator, and had a couple of pretty good attempts. I think my firsts were "Tara's Book of Big Cats," and "The Parrot and Computer on a Stick"......I was four, it was forgivable...
So, without further adieu, here is yet another venture into the past!
Strega Nona The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush The Popcorn Book, Pancakes for Breakfast
-Back in the days of being a little tike, this guy was what I considered a celebrity. I actually got to wait on line and meet the author himself, and I still have my autographed books. Strega Nona was a great way for mom to harp on my Italian lineage.
Tree of Cranes, My Grandfather's Journey, The Boy of the Three-Year Nap
- My mom's favorite author...or one them anyway (you'll come to find that there were many.) Note to self: trying to make paper cranes for mom's b-day...actually very difficult. Buy book instead.
Chris van Allsburg
Jumanji, The Polar Express, Two Bad Ants
- Not many people know about Two Bad Ants. That is sad. I would read this over and over again. I think this is what fueled my desire to constantly play with real ants, while subjecting them to adventurous situations that for an actual tiny ant, were probably incredibly harrowing and dangerous. Like leaving one floating on a packing peanut in the middle of my kiddie pool, with only a cookie crumb for survival. What? He was going on a trip.
The Mitten. The Wild Christmas Reindeer
- My mom always said that the one thing she wanted was for Jan Brett to illustrate Hans Christian Anderson's "Snow Queen."
Carl's Christmas, Carl's Masquerade
- They were only picture books, but the illustrations were pretty and the story touching. A baby and her dog...the tame precursor to Buttons and Mindy.
Chicken Soup With Rice, Where the Wild Things Are, Little Bear, Pierre
- I too, could eat Chicken Soup on a crocodile along the Nile, but I'd rather it have noodles. Also, Wild Things....creeped me out. My mom loves it though.
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
- (No, not the same Lane Smith from Lois and Clark.) These books were all the rage at the Harmony Elementary School book fair.
Angry Arthur, When Sheep Cannot Sleep, U.F.O. Diary
- Where do I begin? This artwork was my first intro to Japanese art. My mother, of course, was the one who first became hooked, and we would turn every night into Woolly Lamby's sleepless journey. Angry Arthur, however, had by far the best story and the craziest illustrations I'd ever seen. Think Terry Guilliam meets Miyazaki. Seriously. Go get these books. Then you'll realize why I am the way I am. And if anyone can buy me UFO Diary, since my copy was destroyed in a terrible bed-wetting accident...please. My inner child would once again be at peace.
Janet & Allan Ahlberg
The Jolly Postman books
- Even fairytale people need the postal service. And now you are privy to all their private mail! Seriously, this was cool; you could open letters within the book and read stuff. There was even a Tom Thumb pull out brochure!
Stephen T. Johnson
- Ahh. I loved New York even then.
Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest, Arrow to the Sun
- The illustrations in Arrow to the Sun are pretty dyno-mite. I mean look at the cover, it was like tripping on LSD.......only for children.
There's a Monster At the End of this Book
- Your furry pal, Grover, and his illogical fear of danger. Quite the psychological twist.....the monster is HIM! First copy was the victim of our washing machine (don't ask how it got in there.) But luckily, we found a new one at the dollar store.
Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
The Magic School Bus series
- My favorites were the weather subjects, and when they went into Arnold's stomach after he ate too many carrot flavored crunchies and turned orange. The PBS series was just as engaging, but it didn't have the cool notes that were always on the side of each page.
The Talking Eggs: A Folktale from the American South
H. A. Rey
- Oh that George! Always getting into mischief. Luckily, he's so darned cute, which wouldn't be the case if he was drawn to look like a real monkey.
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China
Frog and Toad, Fables
- Another story of two friends that is just s darling, it makes my eyes foggy.
The Caterpillar, Pancake, Pancakes
- What can I say? I just really like pancakes.
The Madeline series
- "In an old house in Paris, that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls, in two straight lines." Ms. Clavel's nun habit and her "something is not rights" were a little freaky, but I liked that when Madeline got her appendix out, she saw a crack in the shape of a rabbit on the ceiling. Things only a kid would notice.
Eating the Alphabet
- This colorful, Eric-Carl-esque book about veggies and fruits taught me many things about food that I never knew, like there's such thing as a "Starfruit," and a veggie called "Radicchio."
Four Valentines in a Rainstorm
- I don't know why I liked this book. I think it was because it was a small sized book. I always had a small book fetish. But it was a cute story, where animals were given valentines. I could never remember the name when I went to the library to find it over and over again.
Ezra Jack Keats
The Snowy Day, The Trip, Whistle Willie
- My mom's favorite book was The Snowy Day, and we had this VHS tape about Ezra himself, with a video board of each story. The Trip was the coolest, with weird music and a Halloween theme. It inspired me to make my own shadowbox, and did the same for my little sister , Lili, ten years later.
The Velveteen Rabbit
- I would purposely avoid this book so I wouldn't get upset. This story always made me cry, especially when they have to burn the toys, and the rabbit cries when his boy forgets him. (WTF?! kids are reading this, and now you've scarred them for life)It reminded me of my brother's attachment to his polar bear, Bo-bie.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Return to Chewandswallow
- Food falls from the sky! It's a great concept; grandpa tells his kids the story of the land of Chewandswallow, where the weather is edible. And guess what's in it.....a giant pancake!!!
The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends
- I can still recite "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout" in her refusal to take the garbage out. The drawings in this book are out of this world, but I remember some hard-ass parents tried to get this banned cause they showed *gasp* a naked derrière! (As if we didn't see one EVERY DAY.) But the best of his works is definitely, "The Giving Tree," which is a story that still brings a tear to my ear.
The Eleventh Hour
- Okay, this was the coolest book, and let me tell you why: the story was a "Whodunnit" mystery, but in order to figure it out, you had to follow the clues that were masterfully hidden into each page, within the ornately drawn borders, in the form of images or numbers. The drawings themselves are exquisite, so you won't mind reading over and over again. My mom would not let me open the sealed packet in the back that explained each clue and ultimately led to the solution, but after awhile I had to. Base spins a curious web....
The Spider, Fly and Ladybug series
- Simple drawings, but you ain't never seen a cuter spider. And of course, the fly is an asshole.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, The Amazing Bone
- For anyone that has not read these books yet, it is a MUST, no matter what the age. Sylvester gets turned into a rock, a pig finds a bone that talks...and the best part is my mom used to read them to me with different voices for the animals.
Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Boxcar Children
- The first book was the best. They lived in a boxcar! That's awesome!
Vera B. Williams
A Chair for My Mother
- A cute story. And it was on Reading Rainbow!
The Story of Ferdinand
Alice & Martin Provensen
A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers
- My first introduction to the word "marmalade."
- Hahah. She tried to make a sponge cake with an actual sponge. So silly.
- Hahah, they tried to make soup with stones.........Oh wait, that actually worked.