Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Old Picture Books Worth the Search Time

Today for our gift suggestions, we are featuring picture books that may be a little hard to find - some are out of print, most won't be carried at your local book store - but they are definitely worth a little searching. These are "classics" that may not make any of the classics lists, but we bet (or at least hope) you'll recognize one or two and say "I LOVED that book! That would be perfect for my neice!"

Without further ado, and in no particular order:

Not only is this one back in print, it made Barnes and Noble's Holiday Gift list. Also by Doris Burn:

Both are simple stories guaranteed to fire up the imagination of any child. In the first, a young, misunderstood inventor runs away from home (as far as the meadow) and builds his own home. He is soon joined by other children who feel unappreciated at home, and builds for them unique homes suited to their personality. In the second, a boy tries to escape the annoying tourists buzzing around the beach, and discovers a small group of children who, while we can assume came with their parents as tourists, have also slipped away to create their own little quiet hiding places where they can be themselves. Make sure to pair these with an age-appropriate set of tools and some scrap materials. After reading either one, your kids will be itching to get out and create their own hideaways! If space is an issue, they may settle for creating miniatures out of shoeboxes or the like.

Two oldies by Brock Cole:

Buttons will tickle children who like to see adults behaving in absurd ways. Father loses the buttons on his britches and takes to bed, unable now to go out and prvide for his family. His loving daughters come up with absurd ways of locating new buttons for their dear father, with the least likely of course being the most successful. While children may be unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary (like britches) and time period references (the shiny buttons on a soldier's uniform), the context is more than adequate for understanding, and shouldn't break the flow of the story. Pair it with a box of miscellaneous buttons, and your youngster can spend hours sorting them or stringing them together.

The King at the Door is a very sweet tale of a raggedy-looking man appearing at the door of an inn, insisting he is the king, and in need of some assistance. The innkeeper judges him by his appearance, while the young apprentice takes him at his word. When the former sends out dishwater to drink and dog scraps for food, the apprentice shares his own food and drink with the man instead. Everyone gets their just rewards the next day, when the king returns to take the kind apprentice to live with him at the castle. A very simple tale of kindness and trust vs. cynicism and judgementalism without any overbearing preachiness. Also a gentle reminder to adults that children sometimes see things more clearly than we do! After reading it together, make a trip to a local soup kitchen to help out for an afternoon.

Who does not remember playing for hours with a giant empty box? (If you never experienced that, go get one and try it out in your living room. We won't tell anyone. Just curl up inside with a flashlight, a blanket, some cookies and a book. Trust us.) This would go well with the Doris Burn books to inspire creativity. Pair it, of course, with a giant box - check your local appliance store for empties, or use the excuse to replace your old dryer.

Slight confusion may arise from the fact that Kim is generally thought of as a girl's name these days, and here Kim is a boy, but many kids won't even think about it. Partly in rebus, this is the comical tale of a boy who must find homes for all but one of his kittens, and succeeds - by exchanging each for a different kind of pet! Children will enjoy reading along by naming the color and type of each pet as they are listed in cumulative form, until Kim arrives proudly back home. Pair it with a collection of plastic animals, a wagon like Kim's, or, if you have decided it's time, a handmade gift certificate for a certain kind of pet.

This one was actually written and illustrated by fourth graders in Mount Horeb, Wisnconsin. Basically, a little girl takes the chewing gum from her mouth and sticks it under a park bench before walking away. The gum ends up beingpicked back up, in one way or another, by a variety of creatures, until it ends up back in the same spot the next day - where the little girl finds it again and pops it back into her mouth. We know, we know, eeeeeewww!!! But that's part of the appeal, as is the authorship. Buy it to encourage your budding author/artist, and make sure to include plenty of drawing paper, or maybe a blank book and a "grown-up" pen and pencil set.

Another one where the grown-ups are just plain silly, while gently teaching that we can't expect other people to meet our every need and want - we need to take responsibility for some things ourselves. Pair it with a date to make gingerbread together - and invite us, we LOVE gingerbread in all forms!

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