Friday, October 12, 2012

A Picture May Be Worth A Thousand Words, But Pictures With Words Are Priceless

We had rehearsal in a different place last night. Generally we meet up every night at a nearby elementary school, but last night they were having an event.

I still had to drive past the elementary school to get to the new rehearsal location. If I’m being honest, the big sign proclaiming “Book Fair” kind of made me want to stop by for a second. I, not at all surprisingly, used to love whenever my school did anything book related. Fairs were fantastic. And whenever the Scholastic pamphlet came out, I would spend the rest of my day circling all books that I wanted, so that I could make an educated decision over which ones I would declare to my parents that I couldn’t live without.

It got me thinking about some of the earliest books I remember reading – the picture books that still hold places on my shelves.

Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle were big favorites for me early on. Martin came to my school once and signed my copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? And my young life was perfect. A few years back, I spent some time with one of my little cousins and we read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Martin & John Archambault). Sitting there, chanting about the alphabet, I had some pretty strong memories of climbing up into the top bunk in the room I shared with my sister, clutching that book to my chest, beside myself excited that my parents had just gotten it for me.

Judi and Ron Barrett’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a book I read over and over again. Not only did I love the idea that food would rain from the sky, but I was absolutely enamored with the illustrations of this book. The expressions of the Chewandswallow citizens as the weather turned on them were well worth turning the pages for.

Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji was another book where the illustrations just got to me. That, plus I always really, really wanted my board games to come alive. Apparently, I wanted to make all the same mistakes as Judy and Peter. Also, Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express continues to be displayed on my coffee table every December. And I still feel a twist of heartbreak when the little boy realizes he has a hole in his pocket.

Keeping with yesterday’s discussion of alternative fairy tales, how could I not love Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!? Poor Mr. Wolf. Just trying to get a cup of sugar…. And, of course, Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko’s The Paper Bag Princess. I mean, Princess Elizabeth not only outsmarts a dragon and saves and dumps a prince, but also manages to keep her paper bag from going up in flames. That’s just impressive.

Okay, clearly I could go on like this for awhile. Every time I write one book done, two more that I love pop into my head. But it’s your turn now – What were some of your earliest and most enduring literary loves?

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