Vintage Kids' Books from My Shelves

Reading Burgin Streetman's blog, Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves inspired me to go through the books from my childhood that made it into adulthood with me AND survived my kids, as well as a few gems from my husband's childhood.  I would LOVE IT if anyone else wants to share favorite titles from their childhoods that can qualify as vintage (over 20 years old - in print or out of print.)  If I get enough responses, I promise to do the legwork to find cover images and create a post featuring them - all you need to send me is the title and the author, if you know it. (Apologies for the horrible formatting in this post. These were some difficult images to work with...)

Anita Lobel, children's book author, illustrator and wife of Arnold Lobel, with whom she collaborated on the Caldecott winning On Market Street, wrote one of my all time favorites, Under a Mushroom. A family of four trolls lives under a very cozy mushroom that quickly becomes cramped and uncomfortable when all the little creatures of the forest seek refuge there during a rainstorm. The trolls' house is destroyed in the ensuing mayhem, but when the clouds clear a field brimming with new mushrooms is revealed and the trolls find themselves, once alone and lonely, now in a neighborhood.

And, on the theme of mushroom villages, I just discovered this picture book, The Mushroom Center Disaster writtten by NM Bodecker (illustrator for Edward Eager's Magic series of books that should not be missed) and illustrated by his friend Erik Blegvad, the same team who created Hurry, Hurry Mary Dear, the wonderful picture book along the lines of the Little Red Hen story, but with Mary getting a bit of revenge in the end...

The Sorely Trying Day cover

You all know Russell and Lillian Hoban from their classic stories featuring Frances the Badger,  but you may not know their other books. Harvey's Hideout left a deep impression on me as a kid.  Harvey and Mildred Muskrat, siblings who are relentlessly mean to each other in a way that felt very real to me as a child. They lie, bicker, argue and sling mud (literally) but in the end they realize that, when they are lonely they can also be friends.  Charlie the Tramp is much more lighthearted and evokes childhood freedoms that are rare these days.  If your interest is piqued, be sure to seek out The Sorely Trying Day by the Hobans, newly reprinted by The New York Review of Books Children's Collection.  The book features a father, just home from work and hoping to rest his aching feet, a mother who has been at home all day with her quarrelsome brood and how they all come to find a bit of peace and quiet in their day - and all in a Victorian era setting!

I never knew this since my copy is from 1964, but Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer and Marvin Bileck won the Caldecott Honor in 1965!  This book is a magical, long, winding poem full of beautiful internal rhymes and intricate, sometimes murky pen and ink illustrations with splashes of color. The illustrations are so intricate and amazing I had to share them in the biggest way possible. The book begins, "The stars are made of lemon juice and rain makes applesauce. I wear my shoes inside out and rain makes applesauce.  My house goes walking every day and rain makes applesauce..." My favorite illustration/line was and is, "Monkeys mumble in a jellybean jungle." Well worth a read and probably not too hard to find!

Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr: Book CoverMog's Amazing Birthday Caper by Judith Kerr: Book CoverMog's Bad Thing [With CD (Audio)] by Judith Kerr: Book Cover

Mog in the Dark by Judith Kerr: Book CoverMog and the V.E.T. by Judith Kerr: Book CoverGoodbye by Judith Kerr: Book Cover

I had a copy of Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr when I was a kid.  Neither the book nor the name of the book made it with me to adulthood.  I had only a vague memory of a stripy cat who couldn't remember how to get back in the house and scared a burglar. Weird story, but I have to tell you how the book came back into my life.  I indulge my baser nature while at work by reading gossip magazines on my break.  I like to look at the British tabloids since I rarely know who any of the people are.  I happened to be flipping through HELLO! when I saw a picture of all the little boys in Elizabeth Hurley's wedding party being read to by a nanny while they waited for the ceremony to start.  There, staring out at me from the cover of the book was MOG!  Makes sense, Judith Kerr is a Brit.  I immediately ordered in a 6-in-1 collection of stories as well as a few others.  I love them to bits.  The illustrations are simple and definitely look like they are from the 1960s (the first MOG book was published in 1970) but there is something winsome and lovable about Mog and the scrapes she gets herself into.  Actually, got herself into.  Goodbye Mog, published in 2002, is about Mog's peaceful death and is one of the BEST picture books dealing with the passing of an animal I have ever read.  

A huge influence on my childhood and love of kid's books as an adult has been the magical realism of Richard Scarry and the animal filled world he created.  Most of the books from my childhood, which rest on a shelf of honor, spines tattered and falling apart, have been out of print for many years but are gradually being printed again, although, sadly, in a slightly altered fashion.  Once owned by Simon & Schuster and Western Publishing, Golden Books was the original publisher of the multitude of books by Scarry.  Golden Books is now owned by Random House, and is responsible for reprinting Scarry's work.  Busy, Busy World was my favorite Richard Scarry and remains out of print, probably for a plethora of what would now be considered culturally insensitive stories and illustration.  Another favorite illustrator/author responsible for several classic Golden Books is Tibor Gergly, who illustrated greats like The Pokey Little Puppy, Tootle and Scuffy.  However, my favorite Gergly book, also written by him, is Busy Day, Busy People, which, although filled with humans and not animals, has a decidedly Scarry feel to it. 

I find anything Garth Williams takes his pen/pencil/brush to absolutely magical and evocative of the childhood I wish I had.  Here are a few of his books on my shelf you may not have heard of - all of which are out of print:  The Three Animals, written by Margaret Wise Brown, Emmett's Pig, written by Mary Stolz, and Benjamin's Treasure, a picture book adaptation of an episode from a novel that Garth Williams wrote.  Color and adaptation byRosemary Wells!

And, Arnold Lobel!  The Ice Cream Cone Coot and Other Rare Birds was a childhood favorite of mine that I am happy to report I now own again, thanks to PaperbackSwap.  And, while I still have my copy of Miriam Young and Lobel's Miss Suzy, it was out of print for quite a time but can now be purchased from Purple House Press!

This is a strange but charming book that came with my husband.  Who Needs Donuts by cartoonist, political cartoonist and kid's book writer Mark Alan Stamaty - IN PRINT AGAIN!!!

And one last book from my childhood I am still trying to get my hands on (for less than an arm and a leg) about a monster who is hungry but can't speak properly.  He asks for "fickles" when what he really wants is pickles, and so on.  Not sure why it stuck with me, but I'll find out soon enough since I broke down and ordered it online.

Turns out this is isn't too hard to find, same for the sequel, The Hungry Thing Returns.  Much to my delight, I discovered that a third (OUT OF PRINT) book about the Hungry Thing, The Hungry Thing Goes to a Restaurant, is illustrated by Elroy Freem, also known as MARK TEAGUE!!!  He has long been a favorite of mine, ever since I read Moog Moog the Space Barber and Frog Medicine (who's main character is named ELMO FREEM), both written and illustrated by him, as well as the spectacular Poppleton beginning reader series, written by Cynthia Rylant.  Elroy/Mark also illustrated this Thanksgiving picture book...

Speaking of out of print, Mark Teague, most famous now for illustrating Jane Yolen's How Do Dinosaurs... series, has illustrated and written and illustrated some really great books that, while not vintage (less than 20 years old) still worth seeking out at a library sale of thrift store!

Since I've never given much space to him and I love his work so much, I'll leave you with some Mark Teague books that are still in print.

LaRue Across America by Mark Teague: Book CoverLaRue for Mayor by Mark Teague: Book Cover
Dear Mrs. LaRue by Mark Teague: Book Cover

How I Spent My Summer Vacation (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) by Mark Teague: Book CoverThe Secret Shortcut by Mark Teague: Book Cover

Funny Farm by Mark Teague: Book CoverFirehouse! by Mark Teague: Book Cover

The Doom Machine by Mark Teague: Book Cover

And, his first young adult novel which I bought the day it was released and promise to review soon....

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