Tuesday, July 19, 2011

For the Kids

It was 2003 and I was in a bookstore with my cousin Katie in Covent Garden. I watched her buy a children’s book as she told me she likes to buy books for her unborn children when she travels. I don’t know if she still does that, but I thought it was a lovely concept and adopted the idea myself. I love the purity of message in children’s books and the illustrations are always fun too.

So I came home from that London trip with this book. I’ve only read a little bit of it, but it’s adorable. I love Paddington Bear and the connection with Paddington Station.

In 2004 I jumped at the last minute opportunity to go to New Zealand with some art students and their professor who is a friend of mine. We stayed in a small sea town called Ohope and there wasn’t much to do except walk around the beach and explore the little shops along the one street they had in "town". I found this little gem:

It’s about a bird who is looking for a nest. She tries and fails at finding a home until she rips an umbrella off that poor man in the clothes that clash. It's by a New Zealand author.

In May 2005 I went to Boston with my friends Maria, Mike and Ricky. We spent a day in Cambridge where there was a darling little bookstore. I found this tiny version of a story I only knew from a song on a video my mom had when I was little. The video was several Maurice Sendak stories put to music and sung by Carole King. This story is about Pierre who doesn’t care -- about anything. His apathy eventually gets the best of him. Consider the lion on the cover a foreshadowing. I had to buy it for nostalgic reasons because my sister and I would watch this video over and over again. We could sing this whole story to you if you like.

Unfortunately I didn’t date this book on the inside like the others. But I know it's from London because the price on the back is in pounds and the author dedicates it to “Mum” and Dad. I want to say I bought it at the British Library because I picture that gift shop when I picture myself first picking up this book. It’s about a girl named Greta (later nicknamed Cinderella). Anyway. I love the illustrations and the 1920’s setting of the story.

I must have taken a break from this tradition for awhile because the next date I have is for Alex and Lulu in 2009. I bought this at the Tate Museum in London. I thought it was a sweet story about two people (well, a dog and a cat that talk and wear clothes) who are very different. They like different things, they do things differently, they like different activities...and Alex starts to get concerned about how different they are and it begins to bug him until he explodes one day and says they’re too different, how can they be best friends when they are opposites. Lulu explains that different doesn’t mean opposite and then they talk about all the things they like to do together and that’s what matters. It ends “Alex and Lulu. Chalk and cheese. Best of friends.” Can someone tell me what the expression chalk and cheese means? If it means anything at all...

Next on that trip is this edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. My mother actually bought this for me because she saw me looking at it in the gift shop at Christ Church when we visited Oxford. Lewis Carroll went to school there so they really play up the Alice in Wonderland gift items in the shop. Worked on us.

Next (same trip) is this book I bought in Durham. You’re probably familiar with all the Little Miss and Mr. books. I remember them from when I was a kid. I bought about three figuring I’d give them away. I gave Little Miss Busy to my friend Linda for her birthday last year but I still have Little Miss Dotty. I think I’ll keep her. Small things are super cute to me, but in May I walked into a children's store in Boise with my friend and saw giant versions of these books. I thought it was pretty cool.

In September 2010 my friend Emily posted on Facebook that she wanted to go to the Grand Canyon and asked who wanted to go. I was one of about 8 people who tagged along. This book is based on the poem/song “There was an old woman who swallowed fly” and then she swallowed a spider to catch the fly, a bird to catch the spider and then subsequent nonsense continues on for several verses. I bought this because it was appropriate to the landscape and I liked the way the coyote looks more and more possessed with everything he swallows.

In April 2011 I went to Houston for the first time with my dad and my sister. We went to the Johnson Space Center one morning and I spotted this cute board book in the gift shop. It’s about a little girl who just loves the moon and wants to be able to play with it. She asks her dad to please get the moon for her. So he takes a tall ladder to a very high mountain and climbs until he reaches the moon. He tells the moon that his daughter would like to play with him. The moon says he’s much too big, but he is getting smaller and he can be taken down when he’s small enough. When the father takes the moon to his daughter she dances with it but it keeps getting smaller until it disappears. But the very next night a sliver of it appears in the sky again until it gets bigger and bigger and bigger again. Cute story. For some reason I got a little teary when I read it the first time. I wanted to buy a copy for every dad I knew. But I didn't. Nice, painterly illustrations and some of the pages fold out.

My most recent acquisition is this book from my trip to San Francisco with my mom last month.  It's about Larry the dog who gets lost in San Francisco. Apparently he gets lost in a lot of cities, but he makes the most of it as he visits all the important sites. The book does a good job of giving you historical facts about the city and its landmarks.

So that’s 10 books! I don’t know where my next exciting destination is, but I hope to find a good book to commemorate it.


Annie said...

Shawn and I bought a book of children's Irish folk tales when we were in Dublin. I love this idea! I wish I had found a book to love in London too.

Lisa Marie Trent said...

Doesn't the moon one end super abruptly though? I remember that sucking the tear back in my eye...

Those are all fun books, what a great collection.

SRA said...

Chalk and cheese exemplify difference in character and form, but equality (though not similarity) in usefulness and purpose. One is sweet and soft, the other is bitter and hard, but both are as they are because their purposes are best fulfilled through these 'formats'. I could analyze further, but that's enough philosophizing for now.