Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ladybird Books

One advantage to personal library building in Canada is the influence of the British culture and its literature. Used book sales abound with titles originally found on the shelves of British subjects. (pardon the pun)

One such find consists of the Ladybird Books still published today in England although the format has changed, not surprisingly to reflect more modern interests of children. These compact but sturdy books were first published in 1940 and included at least 63 different series ranging from topics like Natural History, Religious, People at Work, Adventures in History and more. I love the non-fiction titles, especially the Nature books. The illustrations are perfect in detail and charm.

So far I have found nine titles that endeared themselves to me:
Everyday Words for Numbers
People at Work: The Soldier
People at Work: The Farmer
Stamp Collecting
The Story of Saint Paul
Flight Two Canada: A Ladybird Book of Travel Adventure
Garden Flowers

And my most recent find:
Plants and How They Grow

Note the unique ladybug logo on the upper right hand corner of the book which identifies it as a Ladybird Book.
The Wee Web and Vintage Ladybird are two excellent resources for learning more about these vintage books. And this Flickr group, Vintage Ladybird Books can you provide you with a quick look at many of the covers and inside pages of these collectible books.

Where's the Dragon?

We brought this book home from the library two weeks ago and right away I decided that it would need to be added to the ever present list of books-to-own. The book's biggest appeal is the unique embossed cover and pages. The illustrations are captivating and the touch-and-feel effect provides a complete sensory experience.
 The story is of a young boy who after listening to his grandfather's tales of a dragon living in the mountains, decides that they need to embark on a dragon-hunting expedition of their own. The reader is led along on this wild chase all the while being entranced with the eyes and faces of dragons in unexpected places. The grandfather does not see what the boy and the reader can see and the story is made more humorous and adventurous because of it. The book ends by asking the reader how many hidden dragons were found. A clue to the answer is given which sends the reader on his own hunting game. The embossed dragons of all shapes and faces make this book friendly and memorable. Written and illustrated by Jason Hook and Richard Hook.

What's For Lunch, Charley?

Hands down, this is one of my favorite books ever. Published in 1961 by Scholastic Book Services, I read it countless times growing up and still like to breeze through this chapter book from time to time.
Sandwich, milk, fruit and cookie. That's what Charley has for lunch everyday as long as he manages to remember to take his lunchbox to school. And the day he forgets? He decides to go out. To the King Charles Hotel of course. But as he orders his fancy hotel lunch, he momentarily forgets one important thing. Food costs money. Thankfully, kind adults help smooth over an awkward situation and Charley learns about having new experiences to grow from. The story written by Margaret Hodges and the illustrations by Aliki pair up to give us a wonderful story from a different era.

Roller Skates

Miss Peters offered to hear her say her prayers every single night, but Lucinda gently but firmly preferred to say them to herself. Miss Nettie reminded her that if she felt lonely she could creep into bed with her. Lucinda thanked her and refused, "I shall always sleep alone until I'm married; then I suppose I shall have to sleep with my husband. Everybody does that, I know."

Friday, January 20, 2012


I enjoyed this classic story but did feel a little like the last few chapters were sped up in order to bring the inevitable ending together. But I certainly don't hold that against this wonderful story of an innocent and thankful little girl-soul bringing joy to those around her. Pollyanna learned gratitude from her father, a poor missionary pastor who clearly spent time nurturing his daughter's character and leading by example.
She ends up with a distant aunt who sees her care of Pollyanna as a duty not to be neglected but certainly not to be enjoyed. Transformation comes through Pollyanna's innocent acts of kindness and love but at a certain cost even unknown to her.
Pollyanna Grows Up tells the rest of her story and is next in line for me to read.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Phoenix and the Carpet

Any book that starts off with a scene of four British siblings deciding to test their small supply of Guy Fawkes fireworks so that they are not shamed in front of their neighborhood friends should tell you what kind of story you are about to read.
It will be the kind of story written long before children's play was all about safety and security. Of course, being a mother myself, I can understand that children need to be kept safe but if the resurgence in the popularity of books like The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls says anything, than maybe we have gone too far in protecting children from adventure.
That said, once the magic carpet and the phoenix show up, the story becomes one hair-raising adventure after another and even the children recognize at some point that perhaps a break in their magic-carpeting sprees would be in order.
This book is a sequel to the Five Children and It and as I have not read that yet, I can imagine that that story prepares you for the hazards present in this story.
As is the case of any British stories, I find myself longing for tea cakes and seaside holidays, shillings and drawing room fires.
Railway Children is still my favorite Nesbit novel, but I could be convinced to read this again with little difficulty.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The English Air

I think I found this lovely older British novel on the front lawn of someone's yard sale late last summer. I had recognized the Scottish author, D.E. Stevenson from Lanier's lovely summer post. (Btw, her site is one of the most beautiful places on the web. If you want to learn how to cultivate beauty, go, read and do likewise. smile.)

I started to read The English Air on Sunday, New Year's Day afternoon and read it at every chance until I was done sometime on Tuesday. It was written in 1940 and it takes place starting one year before that which was, of course the official beginning of World War 2. I checked the publisher's date after I finished the book and I was struck by how insightful her writing seemed since the war had only just begun. The novel is about a half-German, half-English young man who comes to England to visit family friends of his deceased English mother. And without sounding too cliche, nothing is what it really seems. The characters come across very shallow and trivial, but as the story progresses, they are given depth and interest. I have not read a novel in a long time that held my attention and captured my thoughts even after I was finished reading it. It was a great way to start my new reading year.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Dear Noel

If you love all things Beatrix Potter of Peter Rabbit fame, then you will enjoy tracking down a copy of this wonderful story. This book is based around a letter that Miss Potter wrote to a boy named Noel Moore who became sick and bed-ridden. In the letter, she tells him the story of Peter Rabbit complete with the well-known illustrations. This was the beginning of the popular tales which brought Beatrix Potter into eventual world fame as an author.

For further reading:

5 minutes for books.
Awesome Stories -Miss Potter
Wikipedia -Beatrix Potter

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Amazing Machines

Part of the fun of going to your local library is being on the lookout for books that just scream, "Take ME home!" That is exactly what happened with the first two books we found in the Amazing Machines series. Bright and full page illustrations by Ant Parker coupled with engaging rhymes by Tony Mitton have given us a whole new set of books about vehicles. One of my favorite lines of all the books we own comes from Tough Trucks and goes like this:
This truck has had a breakdown,
but the driver didn't panic.
He radioed around and found
a handy truck mechanic.
Doesn't that just roll off your tongue in a delightful way? And not just entertaining, these books offer up a buffet of vocabulary terms specific to each topic. Each book ends with a review page of glossary items mentioned in the book complete with an illustration or diagram.

Titles published to date:
Amazing Airplanes
Busy Boats
Cool Cars
Dazzling Diggers
Flashing Fire Engines
Roaring Rockets
Super Submarines
Terrific Trains
Tough Trucks
Tremendous Tractors

My First Little House Books

As popular as Laura Ingalls' Little House on the Praire books are, these picture books with beautiful full-page illustrations provide readers with a different appreciation for her stories.
These books are considered adaptations from Laura Ingalls Wilder's books and rely on the talents of several illustrators including Renee Graef. All four of the paperback books we own are printed on a matte finish which makes the illustrations seem that more rich and inviting.
The series numbers fifteen books and listed below are the titles shown on the back of the books:
A Farmer Boy Birthday
A Little House Birthday
A Little Prairie House
Christmas in the Big Woods
County Fair
Dance at Grandpa's
Going to Town
Going West
Prairie Day
Sugar Snow
Summertime in the Big Woods
The Deer in the Woods
Winter Days in the Big Woods
Winter on the Farm

For further reading:
Little House Books

Renee Graef's illustrations from Dance at Grandpa's