Sunday, May 10, 2009

my name is Marie and I am a...

picture book junkie. I have been collecting children's books my entire life. I have a library of thousands. And those are just mine. I'm not including the bookshelves of books my children have amassed. Being a teacher of young children I always had the excuse that I was buying the books for my classroom. Never exactly the truth. I always have bought them for me. There is something about picture books that just speaks to my soul. The right book can actually bring me to tears, calm me or make me laugh out loud. So much is wrapped up in their 30 or so pages, some with hardly any words at all. The illustrations...oh the illustrations. I have illustrators that I adore. Nadine Bernard Westcott is one whose illustrations are so endearing in a cartoony way I can't help but smile when I see them. And don't even get me started on Peggy Rathmann. Some of her books have less ten words but the pictures tell stories upon stories upon stories. Some children's books are actually not written to children. There is many a book in my library that does not appeal much to the kids but make me swoon when I read them.

Because I am anal and slightly OCD, I have my books categorized. Anyone who knows me, knows I can't just stuff them on the shelf willy nilly. They aren't grouped alphabetically like you'd see at the library, as you might expect. I have them grouped by topic. This just makes more sense to me. As I teacher it made life easier to have all my ocean, planting/growing, number concepts, winter holiday, farm, (you get the idea) books together. I pick books up at yard sales and second hand stores. I buy them new from the book store. I order them through Scholastic book clubs. I am a bona fida junkie.

I don't want to give the impression that any picture book will do. Oh no! I have no tolerance for a certain genre of children's books. I call it trashy kiddie lit. These are books based on movies or tv characters (when the tv character came before the book) or formulaic books (like the Berenstain bears). My kids do ask for these and I don't say no but when I cull through their book collections these are always the first to go. There's nothing to them really. Nothing that grabs you and pulls you in and makes you want to revisit time and time again. I silently groan when I have to read these books. It's truly a painful experience.

But enough about that. I started thinking about some new books my kids have which led to my thinking about my addiction and I rambled all the way over here. I wanted to share a couple of new books I picked up for my kids (and by "my kids" I mean me). I was in Borders, looking for a CD actually, and passed a big display of these two books and it was like a piece of my clothing got caught on the display as I was abruptly puuuulllllllleed right back. I snatched the books up and decided they'd be perfect for my girls Easter baskets. I could almost tell just from the cover illustrations that they would become instant classics. I mean, seriously, look at the basset hound, the expression on his face it's almost more than I can bear. Both the kids and myself would want to read them over and over and over and then ask to read it just one more time. And I was right on the money. They appeal to both my girls and my son (and me! and ME!). How could they not? What child doesn't want to be a superhero at some point in their life? Every child on God's green earth adores dressing up and playing pretend and saving the playground from robots and giant snakes. The illustrations are exquisite and so full of detail. There are sub-stories going on within some of the illustrations that invite you in and ask you to look closer. And look closer you should. If you have a resident pint size superhero, you just may want to check them out.

don't bother clicking on the books...I just borrowed these for show

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