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So many Children's Books! SO MANY!

It's Children's Book Week!  Here at the store we have several books that were favorites of mine when I was a child and several more that either didn't exist then or that I didn't know about when I was a kid and that I've come to love as an adult.  Let me tell you about them!

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Such a cute ducky. I kinda had to cull one or two books about ducks from this post. Apparently I'm into duck books.

First, the classics from my childhood.  I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents as a small child and one of the books I loved for them to read to me was The Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack.  First published in 1933, the book chronicles the night and day that Ping, a domesticated duck, spends away from his family and his subsequent return to them.  Between the endearing story and the soft, colorful illustrations, it's no wonder that this eighty year-old story continues to be popular today.

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Sleepy peddler is sleepy.

Another early 20th century classic that was a favorite of little me was Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina.  Based on a folktale, Slobodkina's 1938 classic is about a peddler whose wares are stolen by a troop of monkeys while he naps and then returned to him when he throws his own cap on the ground and the monkeys follow suit.  Though the main body of her work is in other media (she was a prolific abstract expressionist, working primarily in oils, but she also produced collages of various materials as well as paintings and sculptures), Caps for Sale is Slobodkina's best known work and continues to delight young readers.

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Hope that dog doesn't fall through.

The last of my many favorite childhood books I'll mention is Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends.  I have been fascinated by almost all forms of poetry for most of my life and one of the earliest introductions I had to the art form was the work of Silverstein.  His clever rhymes, musical rhythm work, and charming line illustrations have held their value for me and Silverstein, like the others, is still a mainstay of children's literature.

On to the newer books!

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He's the world's best panda. Yeah, I said it.

First is Jon J Muth's Zen Shorts.  Muth, who studied stone sculpture and brush painting in Japan, gives three traditional Zen and Taoist stories life in interactions between the characters of three young children and a panda, Stillwater, who is their neighbor.  Muth's watercolor illustrations leave nothing to be desired and the story is an elegant and politic introduction to Zen thinking.

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You don't usually think of God as cute, but there you go.

Another new favorite is Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen, by Nancy Wood.  This is a completely charming book which ignores the gravitas of the Creation story and turns it into something little kids will be much more familiar with, a family cooking project.  Timothy B. Ering's illustrations really bring the story to life; his renderings of the creative couple are adorable.  One other thing I can tell you from experience is that reading this book out loud in a Scottish accent takes it from great up to the epic level.  Just something to think about.

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Adorablest pea in the world. No joke.

Finally, and perhaps, most adorably, there's Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Little Pea.  This book is near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons:  like Little Pea himself, I was a picky eater as a child (still am, actually, but not as badly), I think it's the world's cutest thing, and also because anthropomorphizing cute vegetables is the best thing in the world.  Little Pea is the main character of this story and it's about how he hates to eat candy for dinner every night and all he wants is some spinach for dessert.  It's wonderful.

So there you are.  Six children's books to love and cherish and read to the kids in your life at every opportunity.  Instilling a love of reading and literature is important and grows more so every day.  Though our culture is becoming increasingly paperless (even I have a Nook, though I still prefer real live books), that doesn't mean that it's containing any less words.  This blog is a perfect example, I guess.

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  • In the picture The Lorax has not been properly straightened. I want to kill.

So, what do you think?