Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Weekly Geeks" assignment and random musings

I came across the "Weekly Geeks" blog as I was browsing children's book review sites, setting up my own blog. It seemed like a neat way to find other interesting blogs to check out, and a fun weekly activity. Every Friday, a new activity comes out, which readers post on their own blog with their answers. The subject this week is the Classics, defined as anything over 100 years old and still in print.

Edit: I have a problem with writing...I always need to reread and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. I could never keep a diary for this reason. Every time I try, I end up wanting to rewrite or rip out pages. I've been trying to resist the urge to rewrite since creating this blog, but it is bugging me that the answers I gave before don't fit in well with the theme of this blog. So, here goes -- I'm replacing my answers with ones that address children's literature instead.

For your assignment this week, choose two or more of the following questions (these are the two I chose):

How do you feel about classic literature? Are you intimidated by it? Love it? Not sure because you never actually tried it? Don't get why anyone reads anything else? Which classics, if any, have you truly loved? Which would you recommend for someone who has very little experience reading older books? Go all out, sell us on it!

(First, I have to say that I finally read War and Peace while pregnant - yeah!). Answering from the perspective of children's literature, however, defining a classic as 100 years old limits the pickings quite a bit. I know there are vintage children's books (and blogs about them!) out there, but I've never read them. Ali over at Worducopia alerted me to the existence of McGuffey Readers, and now I'm considering buying a set (like this). It sounds like the old versions took some heat for racial and religious bias, so that would be my only concern with buying the new one, but I would hope they've been expunged.

Broadening the date window for "classics" a bit more, we're able to include the Complete Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner (1928), which I loved reading to our bibliophile when he was truly an infant (and unable to squirm away). I'm looking forward to revisiting them in a year or two, and we already have a children's set of the books all ready for him, thanks to Nana, as well as Dad's personal copy. For someone who has very little experience reading older classic children's books, I'd say to try Anne of Green Gables, which surprisingly was published in 1908 (for an older child), or perhaps Goodnight Moon, which doesn't technically qualify as 100 years old (published in 1944), but is a classic in many households. Here is a review of it that I wrote recently:

Goodnight Moon (Hardcover), by Margaret Wise Brown. I must be one of the only people that doesn't remember reading this classic tale about bedtime as a child. Still, I've heard it mentioned enough that I went hunting for it. The board book wasn't available, so we settled for the full sized version (which I'm glad about really). On the opening page, a bunny lays in bed in a "great green room," filled with objects that the reader bids goodnight, page by page. At first, I was disappointed that he wouldn't look at it. But after a few days, it made a fast recovery, aided by the appeal of a red balloon. Now I'm contemplating buying a copy for our collection. Anything that encourages sleep is welcome around here!

Excerpt:

"Goodnight light and the red balloon/ Goodnight bears/Goodnight chairs."

Infant's Interest: He likes locating many of the items, including the red balloon, kittens, and mittens.


"Let's say you're vacationing with your dear cousin Myrtle, and she forgot to bring a book. The two of you venture into the hip independent bookstore around the corner, where she primly announces that she only reads classic literature. If you don't find her a book, she'll never let you get any reading done! What contemporary book/s with classic appeal would you pull off the shelf for her?"

Well, I'll have to assume cousin Myrtle has a child, who she has heretofore only allowed to read vintage children's books. I don't know if these really have classic appeal, but two books that I think of as classics just because I enjoyed them so much as a child are Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955) (which I can't wait for him to grow into) and Hand, Hand, Fingers Thumb (1969)(which thankfully he loves now). Mini reviews of both are below. Harold, with its monochromatic sketch illustrations, probably has more of a classic look, but "Hand, Hand" is too fun not to mention.

Harold and the Purple Crayon 50th Anniversary Edition (Purple Crayon Books) (Paperback), by Crockett Johnson. I loved these books as a child, and can't wait to read them to our son. At just over a year, he's not interested in them yet. But he will be, if I have anything to say about it! As the title suggests, the story centers around a young boy (Harold) and his magical purple crayon, which seemingly brings to life whatever he draws. He uses his crayon to create (and escape) from all sorts of exciting adventures. I just love the spirit of imagination in these books, and maybe even a hint of a deeper message about being able create the world you'd like to exist around you.

Excerpt:

"He didn't want to get lost in the woods. So he made a very small forest, with just one tree in it."

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb (Bright & Early Books(R)) (Hardcover), by Al Perkins. One of mom's favorite books from when she was younger, and thankfully our bookworm loves it too! The rhythm of the text is very fun, and the illustrations keep his interest really well. I love that the monkeys have sideburns.

Excerpt:

"One hand/Two hands/Drumming on a drum./Dum Ditty/Dum Ditty/Dum dum dum."
Let me know what you think of these books! And I promise not to rewrite this post again... at least, not very much.

5 comments:

claire said...

I'm crazy about Dr Seuss!

Ali said...

I think board books are a pretty new phenonemon. Actually, children's books are relatively new--many of the classics we think of as children's books weren't written specifically for children. As for learning to read, there were the good old McGuffey Readers for that.

Infant Bibliophile said...

Ali -- interesting! Thanks for the Wikipedia link. I'd never heard of them.

ReadingTub said...

Thank you so much for linking your wonderful reviews to the Reading Tub. What can be better than two kids saying they loved a book? Woot!

Keri said...

What a great site! I have a 4-mo old baby who is already addicted to books and to Mommy reading them. Books have always been incredibly special to me and I want to share that with her. I have spent hours and a lot of money collecting my favorites, not necessarily those that are supposed to be classics. Two of our most favorite right now, and probably always:
1)Hey, Little Ant--Alex loves the rhythm of this one, and the illustrations are pretty great too-Teaches the Golden Rule and who doesn't love that. It is a conversation between a boy and an ant, but leaves the ending for the reader to decide/discuss later on. ("Hey, little ant, hey you in the crack. Can you hear me, can you talk back? Well now, I am going to squish you flat...)I am giving this book to everyone I know.
2)Somewhere In The World Right Now by Stacey Schuett--Absolutely fantastic, it has a musical, whimsical sentiment. It is a bedtime book that goes from country to country, time zone to time zone, in a very special way. Beautiful illustrations, and the almost breathy flow is guaranteed to lull babies and children (and mom) to sleep. I love that is teaches children that the whole world does not revolve around them and their little world, something we all could use a bit more of.
Alex and I love these so much I have already purchased second copies in sturdier versions- I hope that your little budding bibliophile does as well. Let me know what you think-I will be looking for the reviews!