Archive for the ‘Children’s Books I Love(d)’ Category

Raggedy Andy cover

They really look like they’re in love, don’t they?

If you’re a female of any age, the chances are excellent that you once owned a Raggedy Ann doll. I did and I loved to undress her so I could see her heart. What a lovely touch. I don’t have mine any more, but I have this Raggedy Andy book, well worn and well loved. According to the article in Wikipedia, this book first introduced Raggedy Andy, and since the date on the book is 1920, it might be a first edition. But it’s in bad shape with tears and repairs, a dirty cover and someone (me? my sister?) pencilled in page numbers. Children shouldn’t write in books, but we hated books with no numbers. It has the name of a friend of my aunt’s in pencil so I’m guessing she was the original owner of the book in 1920. She probably gave it to my grandmother to share with my sister and me. I remember reading it there.

The stories are pretty long according to today’s standards. The illustrations are really lovely. The one in Wikipedia is in this book. I’ve chosen this illustration because it has the Scottish doll and the Dutch doll who are also in the stories. Raggedy Andy illustration

There’s a strange, sad twist to the story. Johnny Gruelle created Raggedy Ann for his daughter, Marcella. Raggedy Andy is dedicated “To Marcella’s mama.” However, Marcella died at age 13 after she received a smallpox vaccination at school without her parents’ permission. Whether or not that was the cause of death, the Gruelles went on to lead an anti-vaccination campaign (sound timely?) and Raggedy Ann was the symbol.

Did you have a Raggedy Ann doll? Did boys have Raggedy Andy dolls? Do your children or grandchildren have Raggedy Ann dolls? The ones today are much brighter than the one I had.

Animal Magnetism

October 6th, 2010

Curious GeorgeMultiple generations have loved the exploits of Curious George. I absolutely loved these books and checked them out from the library often. There’s a TV show now, of course, which I find kind of jarring. It always seems so loud and makes me glad that books don’t actually talk and make noisy.  Even today, the thought of silent and mischievous Curious George makes me smile.







220px-Babar2 But I can’t mention jungle animals without mentioning my beloved Babar. I say “my” because I adored the Babar books so much.  I could read a Curious George book quickly and I’d “gotten” it. But with Babar, I spent long dreamy hours studying the pictures and the world they depicted. By today’s standards, they might not hold up as well, especially because of controversy over the books, saying they justify colonialism. Wikipedia’s article explains and has some excellent links.  Luckily, I didn’t know what colonialism was when I fell in love with Babar.

Men in Skirts

September 25th, 2010


Wee GillisI’m back to blogging about children’s books but I can’t quite let go of Scotland yet … so I found a Caldecott Honor Book from 1938 with a Scottish theme from those wonderful guys who brought you Ferdinand, Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson. I do remember checking this out from the library when I was a child. Here’s a quote from a New York Times review: “The pictures of the Lowland farms and the craggy Highlands of Scotland have sufficient beauty to make anyone who comes from that lovely country homesick for its hills and heather. ”

Wee Gillis has it all: the Highlands, the Lowlands, kilts and bagpipes. You do see the occasional man in a kilt on the street in Scotland and certainly for formal events. I love all the accessories that go with it … and guys, you do get to wear a man-bag (a sporran) with your kilt. I saw plenty of kilts and heard plenty of bagpipes on our recent trip especially at the extravagant military tattoo at Edinburgh Castle (75th anniversary).

I took a lot more video than photos (and of course I lost the light) so my stills aren’t very good. I loved singing Auld Lang Syne and God Save the Queen with the crowd … the massed Highland dancers … and the bands from other countries – the dramatic Jordanians, some on horseback … the crowd-pleasing antics of the New Zealanders… the Citadel band from the U.S…. the Polish band with alpen horns (Ricola, anyone?). And the fireworks over Edinburgh Castle.


small tattoo











small dancers

En route to Spean Bridge view from train






The dramatic beauty of the heather on the Rannoch moors, taken from the train.



This book belongs to BettyLike many readers, my long love affair with books may have started with a Golden Book! How great to write my name in it … even if I still had trouble with my Ys. What Golden Book stands out in your memory? I know there’s at least one.

Hucklebones coverNo, these three books haven’t been banned. They’re just old and out of print. They weren’t classics, like many of the books I loved as a child. But as the worn and taped edges of these books show, they were well-loved. If you want to read them, you’ll have to come to my house!

But the point of including them in my children’s book-blogging is that, though most of my favorites from childhood are classics, there are many less-than-classic books that provide comfort, life lessons and just pure pleasure – and that’s okay, too. (As long as the books aren’t junk.)

I was a bit inaccurate a few posts ago when I said our family didn’t own many books. I have quite a nice collection of inexpensive Golden Books and their predecessors – Wonder Books from Albert Whitman Publishing in Racine, WI, and Bonnie Books from John Martin’s House, part of the James and Jonathan Company in Kenosha, WI. Was Wisconsin once the heart of U.S. publishing? (I don’t think so.) They are mass market books, but like the more well-known children’s favorites I’ve written about so far, they made my imagination soar. I studied the illustrations until my eyeballs ached.

I loved Hucklebones, the clumsy horse who wanted to learn to dance so he could go to the Steeplechase Ball. An encounter with a huge family of bunnies eventually helps him conquer his problem. I especially liked the ribbons in his tail as he went to the dance. The book was published in 1949 by Whitman Publishing. It was written by Mickey Klar Marks and illustrated by Irma Wilde.

(Note the red taped edges.)


The other two battered books I remember well have an interesting cultural connection. They are both Television Books, published by John Martin’s House, also in 1949. (I read these in the 50s – but I have an older sister.) Our family didn’t own a television until about 1950 and they were pretty rare in 1949. We weren’t the first or the last in our neighborhood to have one. The “television” aspect of these books was a piece of plastic over a little window on the cover and a little wheel on the side of the book to move it. The wheels are long gone and only a vestige of plastic remains and I’ve kind of forgotten what it did. There are little lines on the plastic. Was it supposed to simulate a blurry black-and-white TV with squiggly lines?


Choo Choo pigsForget TV – what I loved about these books were the illustrations. I wish I could put up all the spreads from The Choo-Choo Train (illustrations by Oscar Fabres). They capture the glory days of train travel and a very different America. Of course, it was that 1950s- fictional-idealized America. Still it makes me look forward to our 10 day train trip through the Scottish Highlands coming up in early September.







07-26-2010 12;34;08PMHesperus really tickled my fancy. Most publishers today shun characters which aren’t humans or animals. However, Hesperus (a wreck of car) was as vividly alive as any character I remember. I loved Lily Lamppost and the very large Bumpkin family. Hesperus gets cleaned up in the end and has a whole new life ahead of him.  

These three books really grabbed me and got my imagination going in a big way.  Thanks, Wisconsin!





(The lamppost says “Turn Slowly” – that’s where the wheel was. I guess we didn’t pay attention to the sign! Note the TV Screen on the garage.)