Rats On the Range

James Marshall is an old favorite of mine. You may remember his books about the hippopotamuses George and Martha, or his silly illustrations in many books. I was confused by books that he had illustrated but not written, like the Fox series.

It turns out, he is James Edward Marshall. Both men are him. I found on Wikipedia:

He illustrated books exclusively as James Marshall; when he created both text and illustrations he sometimes wrote as Edward Marshall.

Anyway, on to today’s book.

Rats On the Range is a collection of short stories that are pretty funny. In the first story, we meet Miss Mouse who manages to get her roommate, Thomas J. Cat, to swear off eating mice so long as she promises to keep telling him stories. There are also stories about a pig with a serious speeding problem as well as employment issues. There’s also a buzzard with a foolproof plan to find out who he should leave his money to. The story the book is named after featured city rats living on a dude ranch and growing to outlandish size.

The stories are short and witty and perfect for kids. I don’t have Marshall’s other rat book but it’s still in print so I added it to my list.

Now I don’t know anything for sure but those could be the same rats from the story in the last book…?


Squash It!

How true a story is depends on the writer and the reader. Eric A. kimmel’s Squash It! says it’s true…but I’m not so sure.

The story goes that once a king’s head itches and when he scratched it, he found a louse. The courtiers wanted to smash it, but the king stopped them, for now it had “royal” blood. The king kept the louse in a jeweled box and fed it every day. Eventually, it grew to be huge, so big the king rode it like a horse. Sadly, the louse died and the king was unable to fully part with his companion. He had the body of the louse turned into a lute and then put out the proclamation that whoever could guess what the lute was made of would be married to one of the princesses.

A poor old farmer decided to travel to give his guess. Along the way he kindly picked up some tired insects to ride on his hat–a grasshopper, a spider and a flea. Once he got to the palace he asked the insects to help him figure out the riddle. The grasshopper and the spider did not know what it was made of, but the flea was sure it was a louse. The farmer guessed correctly but decided to ask for a donkey instead of a princess. The grasshopper and the spider went home with him but the flea developed a taste for more refined blood…until the day he bit the king, and got “royal” blood.

So now, I ask, which part of that was true?!? I cannot find anything on this online. I looked for “true story of king and louse” and “king and pet louse” and nothing came up, unless you count this very interesting article from Scientific American.

Vintage Christmas

I know it’s early, but I love this time of year. I go out treasure hunting at the thrift stores for vintage Christmas decorations (found some great stuff today), and I sometimes get lucky and find a book treasure. No such luck today, but I wanted to show some great old books that I would definitely snatch up if I found them.

Pookie Believes In Santa Claus by Ivy L. Wallace looks like one of the cutest things ever! From Google Books: Pookie, the little white rabbit with wings, first published in 1945, is a classic, endearing character. Christmas is coming but Pookie is worried about whether there is a real Santa Claus or not. Always eager to find out the truth, Pookie stays up all night on Christmas Eve and is rewarded when he hears the faint tinkle of sledge bells. Pookie is so excited about seeing Santa Claus that he wakes up all the woodland folk to tell them, but nobody believes him. The only way they will believe him is to meet him themselves…

I can’t say no to The Poky Little Puppy, especially at Christmas time.

I just realized that Christmas In the Country is by Cynthia Rylant! I love her. From Google Books: Cynthia Rylant returns to her Appalachian roots in this story of a young girl who lives with her grandparents in the country. Rylant evokes the warmth of the joyful Christmas season and celebrates the greatest gift of all — the love of family. Diane Goode’s cheerful watercolors capture the festivities of the season, from Christmas trees loaded with homemade ornaments to the snow-covered countryside.

There is no limit to the number of books featuring Clement C. Moore’s famous poem. The key is finding an illustrator that you love. I’m a big fan of Gyo Fujikawa’s drawings.

I have more than one version of Frosty the Snowman but not this one. Kids today do know who he is, so that’s a relief. I feel so heartbroken when a tradition is lost from one generation to the next.

Thorton Burgess is the author of The Littlest Christmas Tree. I really liked his Old Mother West Wind stories.

I’m so mad at myself, I once had a copy of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), but I can’t find it anywhere.

Okay, this one I added just for fun. The Bear has a serious creeper-quality and the picture looks like he’s buying drugs from his dealer, Old Saint Nick. It just made me giggle.

So there is a short list of vintage titles that I’d love to stumble upon. I am always on the lookout for good stuff, but the special Christmas thrift store in my town didn’t have any books. I did find some awesome wooden rocking horses and wooden ornaments like the ones my mom, grandma and great grandma had on the tree when I was a kid.

I keep hoping that this will be the year someone gives me a lighted tree like this:

My mom made one years ago and gave it to her grandmother. Then when that grandma passed away, my older sister inherited the tree. There are more in the family, but none live at my house yet. Someday.

Rooster’s Antlers

I love folktales. They are fun to read and a joy to hear. Today’s book is another gem by Eric A. Kimmel.

I thought this was especially fitting since it is still the year of the rooster. In this story, the Jade Emperor has decided to name each of the twelve years of the calendar after an animal, but he is unsure which ones to choose.

Dragon really wants to be chosen but is ashamed of his bald head. He confided in his friend Centipede (little more than a worm), and Centipede has an idea to ask Rooster for help.

Rooster has beautiful antlers and is willing to share. He says Dragon May use them as long as he needs them.

Dragon is so pleased that he rewards Centipede with many legs and powerful jaws.

Finally, the Jade Emperor makes his decision and both Dragon and Rooster are named, but Rooster feels slighted. He thinks if he had kept his antlers he would have been named first in the list. Dragon refuses to give them back. Rooster calls him a cheat and even gets mad at Centipede for tricking him.

Centipede is a bit full of himself now that he has Dragon’s gifts and tries to throw down with Rooster. Rooster quickly shows who is the bigger creature, and to this day, all of Rooster’s family will chase a centipede if they see one. And Dragon still won’t give the antlers back.

If you can find a copy, you should read the full story. The illustrations are gorgeous, done in the style of Chinese paper cutting over bright, colorful backgrounds.

The Color Kittens

I just re-read The Color Kittens on Internet Archive. I’ve mentioned more than once that I had the book as a kid, but I haven’t read it in at least 30+ years.

This is a great preschool or kindergarten book. It covers the basics of colors.

You wouldn’t think that the mixing of colors could be confusing, but some children honestly don’t learn it at home, or if they do, there is no reinforcement.

I don’t own this at school, but I found it on Internet Archive and plan to use it on my iPad with the AppleTV. This could easily combine in a lesson about colors with the books Mouse Paint by Walsh and Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson (Bear Snores On).

A fun app that could be used to give the lesson a multimedia feel would be Paint Splat featuring the Peep and the Big Wide World characters.

I can’t wait to do this with kindergarten, they are going to love it!!!

A new resource for bibliophiles like me!

I discovered a new resource online yesterday that I’m super excited about!! Internet Archive is an amazing site dedicated to the goal of having a copy of every book ever published. They have even more books than Project Gutenberg.

I looked up the Sid Fleischman McBroom Books last night and found them all. You can borrow 5 books at once and read them in your browser or download them to the Adobe Digital Editions app.I did find, though, that some of the downloads aren’t readable. When I opened up McBroom’s Zoo I could kind of see the pictures but none of the words. There were multiple copies so I’ll keep trying.

I highly recommend you check out the site and sign up for a free account. They have other media as well; a search for Muppets brought up multiple magazines. They have books that are out of print and some video files too. It’s worth browsing again and again.

Happy reading!

Post Thanksgiving wrap-up

So the big day has come and gone. I could have found books about shopping for today, but Black Friday just doesn’t make me think of great children’s literature. Instead, I want to share a wishlist of books that I didn’t get to read for the holiday but would like to in the future.

I will be buying this one! The kids love his Christmas books.

I will leave you with a poem by Jack Pretlusky:

I Ate Too Much

I ate too much turkey,

I ate too much corn,

I ate too much pudding and pie,

I’m stuffed up with muffins

and much too much stuffin’,

I’m probably going to die.

I piled up my plate

and I ate and I ate,

but I wish I had known when to stop,

for I’m so crammed with yams,

sauces, gravies, and jams

that my buttons are starting to pop.

I’m full of tomatoes

and French fried potatoes,

my stomach is swollen and sore,

but there’s still some dessert,

so I guess it won’t hurt

if I eat just a little bit more.