There are many books in this genre that I will simply never get to, many will have slipped by, and new ones will be published at a rate that I cannot keep up with. I am most pleased when I find a storybook from my childhood that I had forgotten about until I come across the cover art in another book, a blog, or browsing the library.
One book that recently resurfaced was Bread and Jam for Frances (1964) by Russell Hoban, pictures by Lillian Hoban. I saw Frances on the cover and I was immediately transported to a small part of my childhood. I remember the pictures and how all that Frances wanted to eat was bread and jam, yet I didn’t remember if this story was read to me or if I was able to read the words. Most definitely I was able to read the pictures, including the wonderful expressions and emotion of Frances and the Badger family. Mr. and Mrs. Badger are kind and understanding parents and that comes through in the illustration and the story.
Looking at the illustrations, I also feel a calm in the artwork. Soft pencil work; the only colors used, besides the black to create the outlines and add shading, are pastel pink, pastel blue, and the white space that is not shaded in. It’s really quite lovely and I wonder if this also drew me to the book as a child.
Two books that I learned about from a literacy website that I hadn’t read are Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears (1975) By Verna Aardema, pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon; and Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China (1989) by Ed Young.
I’m so glad that I have experienced both. I love books from different cultures or that retell a story, as in this case, Red Riding hood.
When I started to browse the library catalog looking for more Red Riding hood stories, I found that there were several versions and retellings of the story. One that caught my eye that I’m waiting to arrive at the library is a Cajun rendition. I’m very curious about that one.
The version that I checked out is called Pretty Salma: A Little Red Riding Hood Story from Africa (2007) by Niki Daly. Pretty Salma is on her way to her granny’s home. Her mother tells her not to talk to strangers and to go straight to her granny’s after she picks up some things for her at the market. Along the way she meets a dog and there’s where the trouble begins. It’s a colorful story both in words and pictures with a good message for kids to remember not to talk to strangers; at the same time, the story is fun to read.
Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955, 1983) by Crockett Johnson. I don’t recall if this was a childhood book for me, but what I do remember is seeing Harold and his purple crayon on one of the children’s programs that I watched. It’s a vague recollection, but when I see the cover of this book, there is something very familiar about it that triggers this television memory. I love this imaginative book and might choose it as a read aloud to bring along as a choice for when I’m paired with a student.
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! (2004) by Mo Willems. This is my second Mo Willems book. My first was Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! I enjoyed that one, but found it also to be a bit odd with that strange one-eyed pigeon. But, I found The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! an absolute delight. It had me laughing the moment I picked it up and flipped randomly to a page in the library. I decided to check it out and am glad I did. This will be another book that I will add to my bag of books to choose from to read aloud; and even if a child has already read it, I bet they would love to read it again and again. I think I’m becoming a Mo Willems fan and that pigeon has rubbed off on me. I like him. I know Mo Willems has several other books, so I have some catching up to do and look forward to getting caught up on his other stories.