The Lost Books

I love books! Had you noticed? I love to stroke them and sniff them. I love the words and the stories and the rhythms and the structures. I love the illustrations and the play between them and the text, and the theatre of it all.

I love getting review books and exploring my amazing local bookshop, Bags of Books, and keeping up with what is new and fresh and exciting. But I can’t keep up with everything, and there was a big gap between me being a child and starting to teach children and finding children’s books again. I worry about all the beauties I missed in that time. So I mooch around the library and I hunt for book treasures in charity shops and car boot sales and I discover lost gems.

In honour of the beauties I rescued from a car boot sale yesterday morning, I’m starting a new type of post. The Lost Books. Basically an excuse for me to ooooh and aaah and get a bit gushy over my treasures, but hopefully a bit of a conversation too. We can’t all know everything, so rather than hide my ignorance I am going to embrace it and use it to suck up as much as I can. I love to learn. I want to learn! And I know that a lot of the folk that read this blog know a helluva lot about children’s books and that we all know about different areas. So this is where I fully release my inner book geek and ask a hundred questions and steal all your knowledge. I want to know more about what I find and get some recommendations for other gems I may have missed.

Without further ado, I give you yesterday’s car boot booty:

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The Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg
I am a Heathen! I didn’t even know this book existed before I watched the film! How can that be? It won a Caldecott for goodness sake! It was published during my childhood but I have no recollection of it at all. Can I blame my mum? I’m blaming my mum! Maybe it’s because it’s American? When was it released over here? Ah well, I’ve redeemed myself now. And of course, it’s beautiful. It’s one of those books with illustrations that I want to explore with a magnifying glass. So much detail. The child’s height perspective! The light and dark! And it’s taken me on a beautiful internet diversion figuring out what he used to make those pictures so delicious. (Conte pencils for those who are interested. I kind of want some now!)

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I’ll admit to something else now. I’ve only ever read two of his books! This one and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Which I adore and must share with you all soon. I bought it on the strength of ReaditDaddy’s review a while ago. Go ask him.

I plan to investigate more of Chris Van Allsburg’s work, perhaps starting with Jumanji? Unless anyone knows better and can point me at the best ones??

Wave – Suzy Lee
Oh how I love this book! I got it for a pound. A pound, people! I’ve never come across it before, or, to be honest, anything like it. There is no text after the title, the story is told entirely through the illustrations. Gorgeous! There’s so much here for children (yes, and for me). The illustrations are like theatre, full of action and emotion. They are created entirely from charcoal and acrylic so the blue sea stands out beautifully and becomes a character of its own. The pictures show a girl playing at the tide line, exploring the sea and the waves. I love the way the seagulls echo her and the increasing use of blue throughout the book is delicious.

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The storytelling potential here is fantastic. Imagine what a child could do with this book and a bit of blue material. I’m going to take it in to use with The Rainbow Library children and see what they come up with. It excites me that this book could inspire imagination and play, could break away language barriers and introduce children to the joy they can get from books. Perhaps change the way they see ‘reading’.

I haven’t come across Suzy Lee before, but I see there are more of her works out there. Any recommendations? What other books could I use with this for story theatre? What else is there like this?

Tell Me A Story, Mummy – Carl Norac and Mei Matsuoka
Footprints in the Snow was one of the first books I reviewed when I started this blog. I still smile when I come across it in my local library and I still have a pull towards anything by Mei Matsuoka. So how did I miss this? Really… how? It’s a lovely book about storytelling and the comfort (or otherwise) that stories can bring. And… It has a female animal main character! Whoop! The story is lovely with some nice repetition and ideas, and I love the naming – Salsa the goat and Cork the sheep! – but it’s the illustrations that make this book. Farm animals asleep in the fields all tucked up in duvets, a mouse sneaking in for storytime, and that sky! Gorgeous!

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I recognised Carl Norac’s name but couldn’t place it. T’internet reminded me that he also wrote Big Bear, Little Brother, which is an absolute winter favourite of ours. I love little connections like that!

The Rainbow Fish – Marcus Pfister
This is one of those books that seems to be in every reception classroom or nursery library. I’ve spent years working in nurseries and schools, and every time I look up story sacks online I come across this, and yet I’ve never read it until now. So now I have. Good. And y’know, it’s… nice. It’s about sharing. And it has sparkly bits. It felt a bit clunky to read out but I did love the term ‘happy as a splash’. I think I’ll stick with Lucy Ladybird. But I’m still so pleased I read it, because now I know.

Lulu’s Busy Day – Caroline Uff
Another character I’ve not come across, and a great one for The Rainbow Library. I like that there’s a hint of multiculturalism in the illustrations and that her best friend is, probably, a boy.

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A top find to share with my little tots at the nursery.

So come on then peeps, what can you tell me about these books? What others should I be looking for? What has been your greatest find?

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4 thoughts on “The Lost Books

Add yours

  1. I like The Rainbow Fish (and have used it lots in the classroom) but then I read a review that got me thinking. The reviewer (I can’t remember who or where) thought it gave the message that to be liked you had to give something away, i.e. I’ll give you a scale so that you’ll like me. That review changed my perspective of the story.

    1. Mmm, I think I agree with that review. I’m really torn by this book. It kind of feels a bit too preachy to me, like you have to try to fit in and be the same as everyone else to be popular. I get that it’s meant to be about sharing and not being proud or vain but… it grates.

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