Category Archives: Vintage

Rosie and the Rustlers

By Roy Gerrard. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989.

Where the mountains meet the prairie, where the men are wild and hairy/There’s a little ranch where Rosie Jones is boss. It’s a place that’s neat and cozy, and the boys employed by Rosie/Work extremely hard, to stop her getting cross.

The cadence of the words is enough to pull you in. But come on, don’t you already want to know what happens next? In a nutshell, Rosie’s men — including One-Leg Smith, Salad Sam, and Utah Jim who’s nice but dim — find themselves in pursuit of a gang of outlaws who tried to steal their steers. And so the “hazardous adventure” begins. Not to worry, it all ends well. The bandits (and their cabin) are lassoed, the townspeople applaud, and Rosie’s boys even get a reward from the sheriff. I would be remiss not to mention the enchanting, 80’s-era illustrations. The characters look like a sort of Wild West version of trolls, with overly round faces, wide eyes, and arms as short as a T-rex’s. But you just. Can’t. Look. Away.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Alfred A. Knopf, 1964

“Mr Willy Wonka can make marshmallows that taste of violets, and rich caramels that change color every ten seconds as you suck them, and little feathery sweets that melt away deliciously the moment you put them between your lips. He can make chewing gum that never loses its taste, and candy balloons that you can blow up to enormous sizes before you pop them with a pin and gobble them up. And by a most secret method, he can make lovely blue birds’ eggs with black spots on them, and when you put one of these in your mouth, it gradually gets smaller and smaller until suddenly there is nothing left except a tiny little pink sugary baby bird sitting on the tip of your tongue.”

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Jillian Jiggs

jjiggs

Written and Illustrated by Phoebe Gilman

Scholastic, 1985

“Jillian, Jillian, Jillian Jiggs! It looks like your room has been lived in by pigs!”

“Later. I promise. As soon as I’m through, I’ll clean up my room. I promise. I do.”

Now, Jillian meant every word that she said. But later, the promise flew out of her head…

Forgive me, Jillian Jiggs. My scanner could not do your fine illustrations justice — probably because the copy I own (passed down from my mother, a teacher for nearly thirty years) is a Scholastic Big Book and nearly as tall as I am. Continue reading

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The Summer Snowman

summersnowman

by Gene Zion, Pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham

Harper & Row, 1955

On the last day of winter, when it snowed for the last time, Henry and his brother Pete made a little snowman…an especially small one. It was so much fun, they didn’t even hear their mother calling them for supper. That night when they went to bed, they tried to fall asleep but kept getting up and going to the window to look down at the little snowman standing in the cold, bright moonlight on their front lawn…Henry started to cry…”The moon will melt the snowman and in the morning he’ll be gone!”

Anxiety about a melting snowman can only mean one thing: Mom? Can you find me room in the freezer? But the narrative here goes a bit beyond that. Continue reading

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Blueberries for Sal

blueberries

By Robert McCloskey

Viking, 1948

Little Sal picked three berries and dropped them in her little tin pail…kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! She picked three more berries and ate them. Then she picked more berries and dropped one in the pail — kuplunk! And the rest she ate. Then Little Sal ate all four blueberries out of her pail!

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Nate the Great and the Lost List

 

nate

by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont

Yearling, 1975

I, Nate the Great, am a busy detective. One morning I was not busy. I was on my vacation. I was sitting under a tree enjoying the breeze with my dog, Sludge, and a pancake. He needed a vacation too. My friend Claude came into the yard. I knew that he had lost something. Claude was always losing things…”I lost the grocery list I was taking to the grocery store. Can you help me find it?” “I, Nate the Great, am on my vacation,” I said. “When will your vacation be over?” “At lunch.”

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Bread and Jam for Frances

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By Russell Hoban, Pictures by Lillian Hoban

Harper & Row, 1964

It was breakfast time and everyone was at the table. Father was eating his egg. Mother was eating her egg. Gloria was sitting in a high chair and eating her egg too. Frances was eating bread and jam…She did not eat her egg. She sang a little song to it: I do not like the way you slide,/I do not like your soft inside,/I do not like you lots of ways,/And I could do for many days/Without eggs.

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The Little House

house

By Virginia Lee Burton

Houghton Mifflin Books, 1942

Once upon a time there was a Little House way out in the country. She was a pretty Little House and she was strong and well built. The Little House was very happy as she sat on the hill and watched the countryside around her. 

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The Tub People

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By Pam Conrad, Illustrations by Richard Egielski

Scholastic, 1989

The Tub People stood in a line all day on the edge of the bathtub. There were seven of them, and they always stood in the same order — the father, the mother, the grandmother, the doctor, the policeman, the child and the dog. They were made out of wood, and their faces were very plain. They could smile or frown, or cry or laugh. Sometimes they would even wink at each other, but it hardly showed.

My son attached a piece of blue painter’s tape to the cover of this book, marking it as one of his all-time favorites. Although truthfully, he was probably also looking for a project that would stall his bedtime without making me lose my patience. (How can you get angry at a child for showing love towards his books?) One evening, the Tub Child is accidentally swept down the drain, causing untold grief, loss and helplessness to wash over the “surviving” Tub People. Despite the happy ending, there’s a melancholy tone to this book and illustrations that I’m not always in the mood for. But I recommend it all the same.

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Lovable Lyle

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By Bernard Waber

Houghton Mifflin, 1969

Everyone loved Lyle the Crocodile. The Primm Family, with whom he lived, loved him dearly, of course. And the bakery lady loved him. She always gave Lyle a cookie; his favorite kind, with colorful sprinkles on top. 

Look closely at the above image. I’m pretty sure that’s red Kool-Aid, circa the 1970’s, spilled over the top right cover. On the left is a piece of Scotch tape on which either my sister or me priced this book at a reasonable 3 cents. But of course, we would never really sell it to anyone besides each other. Out of all the Lyle books, this was by far our favorite. Uber-friendly, tender-hearted Lyle is crushed when he starts receiving hate mail from a secret enemy. To try to make the terrible missives stop, he ramps up his juggling abilities and practices big, big smiles in the mirror. But the letters keep coming. The mystery of who is sending them and why will keep kids interested, and I love the myriad of important life lessons this book teaches. Take your pick: “It isn’t always possible to please everyone.” “Don’t judge people before you get to know them.”  “Watch your kid at the beach,” and so on.

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