Growing up in the 1970s, I was well positioned to enjoy picture books from my mother's childhood and, along with Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight's Eloise, Little Golden Books were always a favorite of mine. When my two oldest children were little, it was hard to find the classic Little Golden Books that I remembered, but in 2001 they reissued many of the vintage titles that I had been missing. The downside was that they also ramped up production of television and movie tie-ins. To me, the quality and classiness of the vintage books was what Little Golden Books were all about, not the low price or pop culture characters.
Happily, G+D Vintage (the G and D are for Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin) is reprinting classic picture books from the 1940s, '50s and '60s. In a trim size larger than a Little Golden Book and smaller than a traditional picture book, the $7.99 price is VERY nice. And, while G+D Vintage doesn't boast the roster of well known authors and illustrators like Margaret Wise Brown, Garth Williams, and Richard Scarry to be found at Little Golden Books, the tone, style and quality of their authors and illustrators is on par. And, the design of G+D Vintage books is gorgeous! From the stripy, matching trim on the spine of each book to the endpapers that can feature bonus illustrations with maps and games, attention is paid to the details. The colors of the original illustrations are bright and cheerful while keeping the palette in line with the original.
Mr. Wishing Went Fishing begins, "Mr. Wishing was a funny little man who lived in a house by the sea." His one room house is shipshape, but when someone "gave Mr. Wishing's house a present - a beautiful blue checked tablecloth for the table," Mr. Wishing gets to thinking. He decides that he must have a "nice glass bowl to put in the tablecloth in the center of the table," which leads him into town and then out to sea. I love the straightforward language of picture books from the '40s and '50s and the gentle silliness of the characters, which are frequently adults. Have you noticed how adults are rarely characters in picture books these days? Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it is a thing...
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The Animals' Vacation begins, "It was time for all the zoo animals to go on vacation. The zookeeper walked through the houses where the animals lived and opened up their cages." He passes out color-coded tags then troops out to the airport to see them off to the "far-off corners of the world." From the piney forest to the North Pole to the mountains, the desert and bush country, the steamy jungle and the South Pole, the zookeeper sees his friends off. In two month's time, all the animals return to the zoo, happy to be "home." In fact, they are even in time to celebrate the arrival of Mrs. Kangaroo's new baby!
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More books from G+D Vintage!
Source: Review Copies