blogs t r e t c h

between a roux and a bechamel

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

When I was a child, I spake as a child

A delightful lunchtime conversation with the Sam and the Drew has lead me to yet another audience participation post! Yippeeee!

What was your favorite book as a child? I'd like everyone to notice how very appropriate most of everyone's picks so far are to their personalities today.

Some crowd favorites so far (mentioned on nearly everyone's list):

Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown

The beloved sweet dreams book that poetically says "goodnight" to everything you can see from your bed. Whether preparing for sleep or trying to postpone it, there was something very magical about this one. Is there anyone in suburbia that wasn't read this before bed?

Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

Another timeless tale about a little boy who has a close encounter with the some wild things much like himself. Getting sent to bed without supper never turned out so well!

My Personal Favorites:

In The Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak

Another Sendak masterpiece, this dreamy story follows Max on his adventures through a nightime bakery. Gigantic trampoline-like dough piles, and swimming naked in a giant jug of milk. Floating from image to image rather than single frame pictures, this story sweeps by and left a permanent mark on my imagination.

Dr. Seuss' The Sneetches and Other Stories

As an only child prone to teasing (and no one to practice teasing back), I particularly loved the Star Belly Sneetches story. The sneetches with stars on their bellies were elitists; then the other sneetches figured out how to put stars on their bellies and nobody knew who the real ones were, and it was a big mess until everyone decided to just get along. It also kind of spoke to my Louise Archer upbringing; we were quite fond of overcoming discrimination.

Courduroy, by Don Freeman

This is the magical story of a teddy bear locked in a department store over night who climbs down from the shelf to find his missing button and discovers a brave new world!

Sam's Vote: Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard Atwater

This wasn't one of my staples, but the description from sure makes it sound hilarious and so extremely Sam:
More than 60 years have not dated this wonderfully absurd tale--it still makes kids (and parents) laugh out loud. Poor Mr. Popper isn't exactly unhappy; he just wishes he had seen something of the world before meeting Mrs. Popper and settling down. Most of all, he wishes he had seen the Poles, and spends his spare time between house-painting jobs reading all about polar explorations. Admiral Drake, in response to Mr. Popper's fan letter, sends him a penguin; life at 432 Proudfoot Avenue is never the same again. From one penguin living in the icebox, the Popper family grows to include 12 penguins, all of whom must be fed. Thus is born "Popper's Performing Penguins, First Time on Any Stage, Direct from the South Pole." Their adventures while on tour are hilarious, with numerous slapstick moments as the penguins disrupt other acts and invade hotels. Classic chapter-a-night fun.

Drew's Pick: The Wreck of the Zephyr,by Chris Van Alsburg

Van Alsburg is apparently quite a prolyphic and heralded children's author (also responsible for Jumanji, The Polar Express, and The Garden of Abdul Gasazi) and a favorite of Mr. Drew's. I was going to use his "brief description," but it would have been as long as this entire blog. So, once again, to our friends at Amazon:
At the edge of a cliff lies the wreck of a small sailboat. How did it get there? "Waves carried it up in a storm," says an old sailor. But is it possible that waves could ever get that high? There is another story -- the story of a boy and his obsessive desire to be the greatest sailor, the story of a storm that carried the boy and his boat to a place where boats glide like gulls high above the water and not upon it. Chris Van Allsburg tells that story of the boy and his boat, the Zephyr, in words and haunting, full-color pastel paintings. His sailboats sail the night sky with the stars in pictures so vivid that the reader can almost hear the wind in the sails. Here is a work of unusual artistry that will enchant readers of all ages for many years to come.

Joey's pick: The Great Brain, by John D. Fitzgerald (writer) & Mercer Mayer (illustrator)

And again, this pick is so very telling of the Joey to come:
mads t r e t c h: what's it about?
gdariusjr: two brothers
gdariusjr: one little and an older
gdariusjr: like 2 or 3 years apart
gdariusjr: and they just do crazy things, but like one of them is just like always getting them outta situations and having crazy ideas

Aaron's Pick: Dr. Seuss' One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Never has an "I can read!" book proffered such profound philosophical querries (such as "Did you ever fly a kite in bed? Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head?").

Liz's Many Picks:
Sylvester & The Magic Pebble, by William Steig

A pebble-collecting donkey who finds one that grants his every wish. Now that's just pure child-lit magic right there, ladies and gentlemen.

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

Also a favorite of mine, this story had that magical E.T. power to make me cry with just about every encounter, yet love it with every fiber of my being. I'm sure Liz probably has a similar place in her heart for the favorite toy that seeks to acheive the ultimate joy for a toy: becoming real through the power of being loved by Boy (the name of the toy's owner). (This story was the clear inspiration for the Toy Story movies.)


I was always hopelessly drawn to this pretty creepy story. As it says on Amazon, this story is not scarry or horid, but rather mischevious and weird." No WONDER Liz and I both enjoyed it so much!

Becky's Pick: James & The Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl

Another one I loved a lot, along with pretty much every other Dahl book (The BFG was pure genius and I'd like to thank Mrs. Shephard at Louise Archer Elementary for reading it to us and doing different voices. I still remember and love it to this day). This was one of those ultimate childhood fantasty type books -- escapting your horrible caregivers for a big adventure in a big piece of fruit with some big bugs. Now we're talkin.

BabyKull's Pick: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

We're really hitting on some of the unparalleleds as far as children's authors go. This is a heartbreaking story of a boy and his best friend, a tree, as the changing nature of their relationship as the boy grows.

Sarah's Pick: The Very Hungry Catarpillar, by Eric Carle

This was one of those fantastic books with interactive pages, that followed our glutonous friend as he ate one apple on monday, two pears on tuesday..., from the author of such other wonders as Brown Bear, Brown Bear and The Very Busy Spider.

Kathryn's Pick: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by

More of a big-kid-book, this is a story of a girl's trans-atlantic crossing, told as retrospective "confessions." Of course my always intelligent friend Kathryn picked something like this :)

Matt Lynch's Pick: Go, Dog, Go! by

Yet another hilariously accurate match up of reader with book, here's a very Lynch-ian description of the story from our friends at Amazon:
Life lessons? Romance? Literary instruction? Go, Dog. Go! offers all this and more, wrapped up in one simply worded, warmly hued package. Using single-syllable words in rhythmic repetition, and introducing colors and prepositions, this Seuss-styled classic has been an early favorite of children since 1961.

Bobby's Pick: The Berenstain Bears, by Stan Berenstain

Who didn't love this little family of bears and the adventures they had? I particularly remember one that soothed me through going to the dentist. Also an Arthur book that soothed me through losing a tooth. Huh.

Derik's Picks:

This was just too funny. When I asked him what his favorite book as a child was, he said "I just read a lot of autobiographies of professional athletes. And Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes. Fair enough Derik, fair enough. I'm tellin ya, these things really do reflect on your future self (or so I'm learning).

Betsy's Pick:Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans

The littlest of 12 little girls and the trouble her adventurous antics get her into (SO BETSY!). This was certainly bedtime fodder for most every little girl I knew.

Gavin's Pick: Curious George, by H.A. Rey

The curious little monkey from Africa, the man in the big yellow hat, and the madness that ensues. Who didn't love the heck out of this little guy?


Alright, much feedback has come in since originally posting. I think there are a few more that deserve addition. I would include the magic spaghetti bowl book Liz and I talked about earlier today, but can't remember the freakin name or find it on google.

Kevin Dunlap's Pick: Hop On Pop, by Dr. Seuss

Kevin's reason is...well, a very Dunlap response:
dunlips: hop on pop, because dave dunlap's tyrannical dictatorship must end now!!!!!

Melissa Decker's Pick: Little Miss Naughty (part of the Little Miss and Mr. Men collection), by Roger Hargreves

MJD 635: i loved...
MJD 635: Little Miss Naughty
MJD 635: from the Little Miss and Mr. Men collection...
MJD 635: my favorite mr. men were mr. tickel and mr. nosey

Decker chose Little Miss Naughty. This really really doesn't need any explanation.

Chris Hoy's Pick: Great Day for Up, yet another Seussian pick

Is anyone at all surprised that dear Mr. Hoy picked a book that was both happy and educational (discussing the many meanings of the word "up")?

Coleman's Pick: Tolkein's The Hobbit

His first memory of a book, as read to him by his father. Definitely matches up with BWM's current day love of all things fantasy and occult.

Chris Hanna's Pick: A Light In The Attic, by Shel Silverstein

Definitely a classic and one I remember reading and loving, but still, a little on the creepy side since the reason he loved it was that story where the lady had the ribbon around her neck...
craigllamar: that book was the bomb
craigllamar: i think that was the one that had the lady whos head fell of

Another couple of my picks that I didn't think of earlier:

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, by Judy & Ron Barrett

OK, apparently I had a thing for odd interactions with large food when I was a kid. But this book was effing wonderful.

The Going to Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton (and all her other books, particularly But Not The Hippopotamus)

I didn't include Green Eggs & Ham on my list because of the overabundence of Seuss here (though it did get many mentions and should probably also be on the fan favs list, but I'm tired of searching for images), but along with that and these books, they were definitely the ultimate in putting me to bed. I really loved the hippos. A lot.

And sometimes, my friends are just odd:
dunlips: ps. kudos for putting "where the wild things are" on your list, but i can't believe no one said "charlotte's web"
dunlips: it was the greatest way to teach kids about dying
dunlips: take little little tommy


Anonymous lizzer said...

Because I do not think you did my book justice, Amazon's review of Sylvester and Magic Pebble:

Imagine all the happiness and wealth you could achieve if you found a magic pebble that granted your every wish! Sylvester Duncan, an unassuming donkey who collects pebbles "of unusual shape and color," experiences just such a lucky find. But before he can make all his wishes come true, the young donkey unexpectedly encounters a mean-looking lion. Startled, Sylvester wishes he were a rock, but in mineral form he can no longer hold the pebble, and thus cannot wish himself back to his equine trappings. His parents, thinking he has disappeared, are at first frantic, then miserable, and then plunge into donkey ennui. Meanwhile, Sylvester is gravely depressed, but tries to get used to being a rock.
In 1970, William Steig won the Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble--the first of his many Newbery and Caldecott honors. In this donkey's tale, Steig imbues his characteristically simple illustrations of animals sporting human garb with evocative, irresistible, and heartbreakingly vivid emotions. The text is straightforward and the dialogue remarkably touching. Children will feel deeply for Sylvester and his parents, all wishing for the impossible--that the family will one day be reunited. Sylvester's sweet story is one that endures, reminding us all that sometimes what we have is all we really need. (Ages 4 to 8)--

Product Description:

On a rainy day, Sylvester finds a magic pebble that can make wishes come true. But when a lion frightens him on his way home, Sylvester makes a wish that brings unexpected results.

How Sylvester is eventually reunited with his loving family and restored to his true self makes a story that is beautifully tender and filled with magic. Illustrated with William Steig's glowing pictures, this is a modern classic beloved by children everywhere. "

5:02 PM  
Blogger ike said...

After all the Van Allsburg books, there's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

5:48 PM  
Blogger ike said...

Oops, and how could I forget the classic: The Monster at the End of This Book. Grover really obliterates the fourth wall in this one.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Tyler said...

I'll agree w/ Matt Lynch on "Go Dog, Go!" - are you kidding me? When all the dogs finally make it to that huge fucking dog party in that enormous tree? God I wanted to go to that shit.

Also the Critter books, "I Was So Mad" in particular. And some other book about night time, where they showed you a city at night, and it kinda scared me, but I forgot what it's called.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Paper Bag Princess.....need I say anymore...OK

Elizabeth, a beautiful princess, lives in a castle and wears fancy clothes. Just when she is about to marry Prince Ronald, a dragon smashes her castle, burns her clothes with his fiery breath, and prince-naps her dear Ronald. Undaunted and presumably unclad, she dons a large paper bag and sets off to find the dragon and her cherished prince.....Lets just say in the end Ronald is a sissy and she ends up liking her dirty paper bag..oh how true to real life!

8:38 AM  
Blogger Blogs t r e t c h said...

Robbie Tommasone has this to add:


leave it to me to pick a star wars book. however, it is a lovely tale
of acceptance and family love... a wonderful story, really.

and it's EWOKS.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Hillel said...

I'm venturing into uncharted territory-- i've never blogged before, but what the hell, here goes......

When I was little my favorite book was "The Bionic Bunny Show" by Marc Brown and Laurene Krasny Brown. Its a reading rainbow classic, although im not sure whether or not it ever won the Caldecott Medal. The story centers around Wilbur, an ordinary rabbit while at home who morphs into TV superhero upon arriving on the set of his show-"The Bionic Bunny Show." The purpose of the book is to give its young readers a behind the scenes look at television production-- to help them differentiate between reality and illusion. In my opinion, this book is way ahead of its time. Perhaps prediciting the onslaught of so-called "reality" television, Brown and Brown felt it was their obligation to arm their young readership with the proper media literacy skills required to differentiate between staged and unscripted, "reality" and reality. Bionic Bunny- we need you now more than ever.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Jenna said...

I wanted to put in my two cents even though its WAY late...
"Don't Cry Big bird" was definitely my favorite book. Big Bird just feels too big. Too big to jump rope, too big to play hopskotch and starts to cry. His friends dont want him to feel badly, so they tie two jump ropes together so he can play, and draw the squares in hopsckotch big enough for his feet. He begins to see the upside to being tall...

9:02 AM  

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