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Children’s Books

September 15, 2010

Picture books get people talking. Well, books in general. I went to a meeting today for something totally other (a professional thing. I wore a suit) and wound up giving book recommendations to one of the people who was interviewing me.

But tonight, I stumbled across this, from the NY Times last week.

What Children’s Books Do You Hate? The original post, talking about The Giving Tree, was one thing. But scroll down a bit in the comments.

There’s a lot of… vehemence!!! coming from parents and grownups about some of these. As if bringing a post-modern college-level analysis to children’s picture books.  And at a certain point, which some of the commenters, thankfully, acknowledge, you’ve gotta remember that a four and five year old is grooving on the language and the pictures, maybe not internalizing troubling messages about conformity or desecrating nature.

That said.. my favorites?

Book you’ll never find anywhere, but you should try: Alligator Pie, by Dennis Lee. A feature of my childhood. “Alligator Pie, Alligator Pie, if I don’t get some, I think I’m going to die.” The book is about as hard to find as its namesake delicacy, being both Canadian and out of print.  (I caught myself forming the thought that the title poem is as catchy as, and in a similar cadence to… “Pants on the Ground” but I’ll disregard that thought as unworthy.)

Book that might have taught me how to read: The Random House Book of Poetry For Children

Book that very definitely made me an odd kid: I’m Nobody! Who Are You? Poems of Emily Dickinson for children. Yeah. It made me a strange kid to be talking about trinkets and quoting her poems, but I still love this book, and should see about scanning/enlarging some of the gorgeous illustrations to frame on my walls.

Ones I’ve reviewed and loved…

Before You Were Here, Mi Amor. Samantha Vamos and Santiago Cohen. I love the sweetness of the text and Cohen’s gorgeous bright colors.

Blueberry Girl- Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess. Even without Vess’s gorgeous baroque pastels, I’d love the words of this.

And of course there’s always Shel Silverstein. For me, it was about A Light In the Attic and Where The Sidewalk Ends. I don’t think The Giving Tree, which gets so much discussion in the original Times piece, registered at all.

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