nobody's posted? i'm going to take this opportunity to raise a flag for the remaindered picture book. several of them in fact, deserve consideration for themes and nearly intangible pluses (sp?) that drew my children, and if i scan the internet, many other children to pick those books off the shelf bedtime after bedtime after, oh god, bedtime. Most of these books were on my kids' bookshelves, even past the approved picture book stage (because i was reading them first, then stashing them where it was unlikely anyone in their snobby adulthood would point a finger at me) and are still there, many without covers, which attests to the fact that not only i was reading them.
first up, a book that my daughter nikki asked for every day for months straight, sometimes reading it three or four times in a row before another book could be approached. when i finally, guiltily, sneaked it out of the house and returned it to the library, i had a $54 fine to pay
leopold is the first character we meet, waiting on a streetcorner for a likely crumb-dropping person to follow for a meal. questionable as his motives might sound, they must be part of the appeal for the young reader.
it takes a little time to figure out he's invisible, but the trouble he gets into along the way makes for plenty of fun that kids get right away. the intrepid heroine makes it her business to discover just what kind of creature is making all this trouble for her, and by the end of the book she has devised a most creative way to see him.
massie's story was done in rhyme, if i remember correctly, good rhyme.
the story concerned a sea monster who liked to read, but the fishes who provided reading light also tasted pretty good. an exploration of delayed gratification taken to its outer limits.
it was among the more truly laugh out loud books we enjoyed if only for the all too expected unfortunate finish for many of the reading lights despite the monster's professed desires and promises not to eat them. and does end with a secure, if somewhat wary, friendship in place.
best image i could find, i'm sorry to report, and no time to dig through the filing cabinet to find my photocopied pages of an inexpensive book that didn't hold up physically, but the story has remained alive and well in my children's memory.
it starts with a single protagonist, silas, a baby alligator who goes the way of many baby alligators. in case you can't quite read it, the subtitle reads "the sewer story."
silas leads the many fellow mid-sized alligators into a creative plan to escape back to the swamps in florida. funny enough to read and to look at the pictures, but even funnier as the kids fall to the side with laughter as marx-like pix of bewigged and dressed up alligators board buses and motorcycles in exactly the same fashion shown in the movie of the same title, making their way singly or in small groups, all to successfully meet as friends and comrades back home, the best of all possible happy endings.
this book in particular, i can't imagine it wasn't a caldecott consideration, but its poorly rhymed text was a little weak. would that keep it from being a contender?
as picture books go, the thematic material was unusual, in that it spoke more to the value of a child's experience serving adults in their own life's journey.
much as i love it, i can look at this title, unlike the others mentioned so far, and see reasons why it might not have been judged successful. but remaindering is a common end for picture books, and the logic i'm offering is not necessarily the publisher's logic, which is more often about the cost of storage space if a book doesn't sell off the shelf in record time.
but it was also a bold journey being expressed for the young heroine, as she made friends along the way, and a fine adventure, and a spectacular birthday party, into the bargain.
recently, i checked with a local librarian who knows her bookshelf, and asked for stories of children and their relationships with grandparents. she came up with a single title, a boy on the farm with granddad, basically just page after page of they did this, then this. informative, perhaps, but hardly engaging. surely someone could write a story to fill this neglected niche.
a search on the internet will bring up many of the interior images from these books, an internet activity that would be worth your time, inspiration-wise. many libraries still have copies of these books, the donnell library in nyc makes a habit of putting old picture books in their reference section, and they were kind enough to let me make photocopies of books i wanted to keep in my files. this was before i was published, so this was not a factor. in other words, you too may. . .
near where i live now, in wv, the sheperdstown university keeps ancient picture books on shelves for students well beyond picture book age, and you may find a college near you is equally farsighted.
done quickly to fill the gap, please excuse typos and imperfect images, should they occur.
have fun reading,
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