Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Goodbye Maurice Sendak, RIP June 10, 1928 – May 8, 2012: A Rememberance and a Tribute

I cried this morning when I heard that Maurice Sendak died. I was at work and my wife texted me the news.  My imidiate response to her was, "Oh, God...no."  I then left my cubical to be alone and wept for about 10 minutes. Afterword, I cleaned myself up and returned to work...but  I never stopped thinking about it.

I can remember my mom reading me every book in the Nutshell Library (Pierre, Chicken Soup with Rice, Alligators All Around, and One Was Johnny). I remember her hamming up Chicken Soup with Rice the Most...especially October, "WHOOPIE once. WHOOOOOOOPIE twice! WHOOOOOOOOOOOPIE chicken soup with rice!"  I read that to my son for bedtime, and I read it like my mom read it to me.  He laughed and looked at me like I was insane... his insane but loving father.

The first "long book" I read to my son was The Griffin and the Minor Canon which was illustrated by Maurice Sendak (written by Frank R. Stockton).  My son was 1, but he didn't budge, his eyes were transfixed on the illustrations.

You Cant Get There From Here by Ogden Nash was a staple of my childhood too.  I constanly pulled it off my father's bookshelf and enjoyed its' Maurice Sendak illustrations and hilarious poetry.

Most people will remember him for Where the Wild Things Are.  I love the illustrations in that book, but it never touched me as much as The Nutshell Library books and In the Night Kitchen did.

To Maurice's family: I am so sorry for your loss.  To fans everywhere: I am so sorry for our loss.  His work will live on in reprint after reprint.  I suggest seeking out more books by him and illustrated by him and putting them in your libraries.

Maurice Sendak was a man who would tell it like it is.  There are some jaw dropping and truly funny interviews with Maurice Sendak out there.  He may not be the Mr. Rogers-type, but I have bucketloads of respect for this man. Steve Carell's 2 part interview with Maurice Sendak a few months back is HIGHLY recommended.

And now... I'll leave you with some pictures of books he illustrated, wrote, and wrote & illustrated from my collection... not all of them, but a good smattering.

What Do You Say, Dear? by Seslye Joslin
What Do You Do, Dear?  by Seslye Joslin
Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow
Little Bear's Vist by Else Holmelund Minarik
Little Bear's Friend by Else Holmelund Minarik
A Kiss for Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik

Dear Milli by Grimm
The Miami Giant by Arthur Yorinks
Nutcracker  by E.T. Hoffmann 

Pleasant Fieldmouse by Jan Wahl
The Cunning Little Vixen by Rudolf Tesnohlidek
The Big Book of Peace by Ann Durell
Swine Lake with James Marshall
The Griffin and the Minor Canon by Frank R. Stockton
What Can You do with a Shoe? by Beatrice Schenk de Reginers

I Saw Esau by Iona Opie
A Perfect Friend by Reynolds Price
Hurry Home, Candy by Meindert deJong
Fly By Night by Randall Jerrell
Shadrach by Meindert deJong
The Juniper Tree and Other Tales From Grimm (Single Volume Edition) - by Grimm
The Wheel on the School by Meidert deJong
Dwarf Long-Nose by Wilhelm Hauff

The Animal Family by Randall Jerrell
The Wonderful Farm by Marcel Ayme
She Loves Me... She Loves Me Not... by Robert Keeshan (AKA Captain Kangaroo)
Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer
No Fighting, No Biting! by Else Holmelund Minarik
Open House for Butterflies by Ruth Krauss
The Velveteen Rabbit (Best in Children's Books Volume 35)

Rest in peace, sir.   Good night, sleep tight, don't let the zipperump-a-zoos bite.

Other Maurice Sendak related books missing from the above pictures (most are must haves):
Atomics for the Millions by Dr. Maxwell Leigh
Outside Over There by Grimm
The Moon Jumpers by Janice May Udry
One Was Johnny
Alligators All Around
The Singing Hill by Meindert DeJong
Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
Father Bear Comes Home by Else Holmelund Minarik
Seven Tales by H. C. Anderson by Hans Christian Anderson
Let's Be Enemies  by Janice May Udry
The Sign on Rosie's Door
Seven Little Monsters

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mercer Mayer's Terrible Troll vs. The Bravest Knight

My latest blog, "Terrible Troll vs. The Bravest Knight," is up... but not here.

It is up over at Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves, right HERE.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mercer Mayer Interview and more at Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves

There is an excellent BRAND NEW interview with Mercer Mayer over at my favorite blog, Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves.

Go check it out!

Here is part 1 of the interview:


They are also posting a lot of Mercer Mayer reviews of his classic books.  You may even see a familiar person doing a guest post soon...

Good night, sleep tight, don't let the Zipperump-a-zoos bite!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mercer Mayer's BIG LITTLE CRITTER series is coming!

While doing my usual random searches of the Interwebs, I ran across some press release information about a series of Little Critter collections called the "Big Little Critter" series.

It will be a series of books that collect four previously released Little Critter books each. Most of the books were originally part of the Little Critter Book Club series of hardcovers, and some are very hard to find nowadays.  The series will launch with five titles during 2012  all released by FastPencil Premier (starting in May):

Staying Well (ISBN 1-607-46732-1) (featuring This is My Body, Taking Care of Mom, I Was So Sick, and The Loose Tooth)

On the Go (ISBN 1-607-46983-9) (featuring Just a Bad Day, Just an Airplane, Just Me and My Bicycle, and Going to the Races)

My Family (ISBN 1-607-46810-7) (featuring: It's Mine, Just Like Dad, Just Too Little, I Didn't Mean It)

Helping Out (ISBN 1-607-46071-8) (featuring: I'm Sorry, Just Say Please, Just Leave Me Alone, Just a Gum Wrapper)

Fair Play (ISBN 1-607-46763-1) (featuring: I Didn't Know That, That's Not Fair, Just a Little Different, The School Play)

That is all I know for now... no pictures of the covers are available yet.  So, good-night, sleep tight, and don't let the Zipperump-a-zoos bite.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Possum Child Goes Shopping by Mercer Mayer and an Introduction to His Panorama Books.

Well, it is a brand new year.  I am going to start it out by featuring Mercer Mayer’s Panoramic Board Book series featuring Little Critter and the Critter Kids.  This series of books came out from Scholastic in 1983 for $2.95 a pop.  Two of the books weren’t re-released and two were re-named (just to confuse us kiddos) for paperback and hardcover releases.  Note for collectors: If you are looking for the Panorama versions of these books they all start with ISBN “0-590-328.” 

The books in the Panorama version of this series are:

Possum Child Goes Shopping (never re-released)

Malcom’s Race (never re-released)

Each book is thick cardboard (like a Board Book, but maybe a touch thinner) and has a folded accordion/Panoramic style.  When fully opened, the book is over four feet long (for a little over eight feet of fun art and story). Each book is 8 double sided panels long (16 panels total).  This ends up being about 13 pages of story (6 pages on one side, 7 on the other), a cover page, a back page featuring all of the Critter Kids, and a removable page featuring four of the Critter Kids (“collect all 16!”…one card features two of the 17 characters: Maurice & Molly).  

The seventeen Critter Kids are:

Little Critter: a critter

Too (name eventually changed to Little Sister…naming a character an adverb is just confusing): a critter, Little Critter’s little sister

Sweetmeat (name eventually changed to Bun Bun…look up “sweetmeat” and you’ll see why): a rabbit

Frud (name eventually changed to Frog…what was wrong with "Frud"?): a frog

Weenie (name eventually changed to Mouse… we wouldn’t want a character named “Weenie” in a book, would we?): a mouse

Muso (name eventually changed to Mooso…possibly so people would pronounce it correctly…it probably didn’t help…also “muso” means mouse in some languages): a panda

Skat Owl (no name changes for this guy, even though his name sounds like “scat”…look it up): an owl

Malcom: a tiger (or a tiger-striped cat)

Max: a koala

Huggums: a raccoon

Gator: an alligator

Bat Child: a bat

Oscar: an otter

Seaweed: a skunk

Maurice: a mole

Molly: a mole, Maurice’s sister

Possum Child: a possum

The versions of these books that were re-released by Random House / B. Dalton Booksellers, Inc. / Green Frog Publishers Inc. (in association with John R. Sansevere) had some changes made and most came with a disclaimer on the copyright page, “Originally published in a different format by Scholastic Inc., in 1983.”  Some of the re-releases have what looks like extra pages in them… some of which were borrowed from other books in the series.

Today’s book is one of the ones that wasn’t re-released (as far as I know).  Possum Child Goes Shopping. It seems to be very rare and it took me a few years to find a decent ex-library copy.   It comes with four Critter cards: Possum Child, Oscar, Little Critter, and Huggums.

The story:  Possum Child goes shopping for a new red bow for her head.  Before she’s able to leave she gets bombarded with requests from her friends to pick up some things for them.  As she shops she rhymes her grocery list, “For Huggums, lots of nuts and fruit. Gator needs a bathing suit.”  She isn't mad that her friends asked for these things, and she even seems happy to do it.  BUT, she does end up forgetting to buy her red bow.

Sadly, this particular book doesn’t take advantage of the Panorama publication style.  Some of the pictures are two-panels long, but most are single panel.  The shopping motif could have easily leant itself to showing a whole one-stop-shopping center with Possum Child in the different sections with a touch of bleed-over from picture to picture.  As to why this book didn't get re-released... I have no idea.  Kids love to play "shopping," and the book is fun, short, and sweet.  Maybe there is a low demographic for "possom"-related children's fiction?

Being picky: In the story, Possum Child buys some cheese for Weenie the mouse (per Weenie’s order), but she never delivers it to Weenie in the story (everyone else is shown getting what they wanted).  The jacks don't get delivered either, but Max got a bunny on top of that gift (Possum Child got him two things).  Also, Malcom, Too/Little Sister, Sweetmeat/Bun Bun, Skat Owl, Bat Child, and Frud are not in this book at all.
That’s all for this one.  Goodnight, sleep tight, and don’t let the Zipperump-a-zoos bite!