Seven Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes

My Childhood Picture Book Favorites Edition

I write frequently about my current favorite books, including those I read to and with my children.  However, I don’t think I’ve ever listed MY favorite books from my own childhood – until now!

Unlike my current home, my childhood home didn’t hold a ton of books. I remember being read to from a very small stash and from the books I checked out of the school library. And, my mom was very indulgent with my requests from the Scholastic Book flyer.

Unfortunately, I missed out on many classics, and I rarely saw my parents with a book (as in, almost never, though they were avid newspaper readers). And yet, they encouraged me to read, indulged my interests, and fostered a love of words in me as well as the love that goes hand in hand with being read to as a child.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorites. At least the ones I can remember!


The Story of Ferdinand

FerdinandThe Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, is now a major motion picture, as they say. It looks like the producers may have taken some liberties with the story, and the “be true to yourself” message makes me a little nervous since I’ve seen that positive message twisted often enough to mean, “do what you feel like, regardless of the consequences.” My hope is that they’ve at least improved upon the cute but crazy cork tree illustrations. (Do you remember those? Little wine bottle corks dangling from tree branches.)


Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Mike MulliganMike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton is beloved by me and my kids. I’ve always felt such sympathy for poor Mary Anne, the obsolete steam shovel. I’m not sure what inspired the author, but my husband and I actually came across a rusted out, abandoned steam shovel in a ghost town along the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. Woe to Mary Anne! I’m also intrigued by a just-released book called Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton by Sherri Duskey Rinker. Read more about this new book and its genesis in BookPage.


On Beyond Zebra!

On Beyond ZebraI remember frequently checking out On Beyond Zebra! by Dr. Seuss from my grade school library. I’ve never been a particularly big fan of Dr. Seuss, but this one grabbed me. Maybe it was an early fascination with letters and words? Not sure, but the endless possibilities of letters beyond Z captivated my imagination.


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Lyle the CrocodileLyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Weber remained lost in the recesses of my mind for many years before resurfacing as I had children of my own. I think that as the youngest child by more than a decade, the idea of an anthropomorphic alligator companion appealed to me.


Gus, the Friendly Ghost

Gus Was a Friendly Ghost coverI was tickled to discover this book among those my mother-in-law had saved: Gus Was a Friendly Ghost by Jane Thayer. Apparently Gus was a favorite of both mine and my husband’s! The purple and orange illustrations, obviously a “thing” back in the day, are engraved in my memory. Like Lyle, Gus seemed to me to be a good companion for a kid. Happily, my children really love Gus too!


Paddington Bear

PaddingtonLong before the movie, I was enamored with A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond. It was likely one of my first experiences with British characters and delicious marmalade. I’m happy the little guy has had such staying power. (Technically not a picture book, but I read it early.)


The Little Red Hen

Little Red HenI may be cheating a bit on this one. While I remember my mother reading me The Little Red Hen, I can’t recall much about the edition. (Much like other favorites, The Boy Who Cried Wolf and Chicken Little.) This Little Golden Book version is the one I read to my niece and nephew. And since I also loved my small collection of Little Golden Books (mostly Christmas-themed ones), this one seemed appropriate.


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7 thoughts on “Seven Quick Takes

  1. Of course I had to click through! For me, it’s “The Little House” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, “McElligott’s Pool” by Dr. Seuss, “The Story of Ping” (I can’t remember the author), “Gone is Gone,” “The Funny Thing,” and “Millions of Cats” by Wanda Gag, and “Andrew Henry’s Meadow,” which my parents hid because they got so tired of reading it to me.
    Lots of Wanda Gag, because my dad worked for a publishing company when I was very small, and employees got first dibs on books that were bound upside-down in their covers or otherwise “defective” but were fine for read-alouds. I still have “Gone is Gone” and “Tales from Grimm,” though that last was replaced this summer by a friend after she found out what bad shape my treasured copy was in.

    • The Story of Ping. I vaguely remember that. And that reminders me of another favorite – I think it was The Seven Chinese Brothers or something similar.

        • I looked it up! There’s a Five Chinese Brothers and a Seven Chinese Brothers. The one I was thinking about is Five Chinese Brothers, as you said. (I’ve read Seven Chinese Brothers to one of my kids. Probably picked it up thinking it was Five Chinese Brothers.) At any rate, Kurt Wiese is the illustrator of The Story of Ping and Five Chinese Brothers. Good eye! And now I’ve got to go reserve them all from the library . . .

  2. Oh, I loved Ferdinand! I can’t remember what books I read as a child. We had a beautiful book about the faith that I remember. It had a lovely padded white cover and pictures that I could look at all day. I wish I knew what is was called.

    But we’ve read all of the other books on your list to the boys. Fun! I love anything by Margaret Wise Brown, too. Our son who has autism really connected with those books.

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