Friday, September 20, 2013

Follow Friday - 124 Is an Untouchable Number


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Fantasy Is More Fun and Simply Sensational Book Fanatics.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What were some of your favorite picture books as a kid? If you have kids, what are your favorites to read to them?

This question is somewhat interesting mostly because it made me think about the theoretical difference between what I remember as my favorite books as a child, and what were likely my favorite books as a child, which I strongly suspect were different from the books that I recall. To be perfectly honest, I am sure that I had favorite books as a child, but having watched my own children grow up and not remember the things they absolutely adored four or five years ago, I am also sure that I am extraordinarily unlikely to actually list those books here. But what I can do is list the books that I have remembered most fondly since I have grown up. I was, like most children in the United States, exposed to the books of Dr. Seuss, the books of Maurice Sendak, the books featuring the Berenstain Bears, and so on. I also had slightly more obscure books like Wish Again Big Bear, Mog the Forgetful Cat, Earnest in the Wild West, and My Mama Says There Aren't Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, or Things. But even though I liked all of those books, none of them were my favorite books.


The closest I can come to identifying a book that was a favorite of mine when I was a child, it would have been one of Gene Zion's books about the canine adventures of Harry the dog. Of the series, my favorite was probably Harry the Dirty Dog, a story in which Harry runs away from his bath and wanders through the town where he lives and spends the day playing in all kinds of places getting progressively dirtier until he is transformed from a white dog with black spots to a black dog with white spots. This causes some grief until Harry dives into an available bath and everyone recognizes him once again. The other books contain similar adventures, usually involving Harry disliking something new, like the singing of a lady living next door, or a new sweater covered with roses, which he responds to with some doggy rejection that causes him even more trouble than the original source of irritation, leading to a series of comic events before the problem is resolved at the end.

The interesting thing about the Harry books is that while Harry is the central character of the series, he is very much a dog and isn't really anthropomorphized in any way. He doesn't speak. His reactions to those around him are those of a dog. Everyone around him treats him like a dog. Unlike many other series featuring animals, he never adopts human-like characteristics or ways of thinking. And yet the books are enjoyable enough to hold the attention of the four or five year old me. I loved the Harry books so much, that when my parents got us a dog and asked me what to name him, I immediately picked the name "Harry". It didn't matter that our Harry was a black cockapoo and looked nothing like Harry from the books, he was my dog, and he was going to be named after my then favorite book character.


As much as I loved the Harry books, they aren't the ones that I remember most fondly looking back as an adult.One group of books that I loved as a child and which I still love reading are those written and illustrated by Richard Scarry, which are actually full of anthropomorphized animals going about their daily business just like humans would in their place. I loved Scarry's books because they were full of interesting stuff. Each page was covered with detailed pictures that in the hands of many other illustrators would have been busy and cluttered. Scarry somehow made an illustration of more than a dozen cars and trucks on a single page complete with little notes describing each vehicle and many of the occupants seem natural.

Each page of a Richard Scarry book was an little mini-story by itself. I remember hunting to see where Goldbug was hiding on a page, or trying to figure out what Lowly Worm was up to, or just going through and making sure that I read every single label on a page. Scarry's world was one of fun-filled adventure, where going on a family picnic could include driving over a snow covered mountain, and where going to work was something people looked forward to. It was also a benign place, where the worst mischief anyone got up to was a dingo running over some parking meters in his sports car, and a fox riding a bicycle would tirelessly chase him down over the course of an entire book. But what I really loved about Scarry's books is that they were full of information. Yes, it was just labeling fairly mundane things, but for a six or seven year old, these were books that showed you what things were called, and in many cases, showed you pictures of things you have never seen before in a context that showed you their uses. For me, this was a window into new worlds. worlds full of pigs and dogs and worms working as cobblers and policemen, but also worlds where everything was labeled and explained.


When I was just a little bit older, in that reading netherworld a child goes through when they are moving on to "grown-up" books, but still crack open a picture book once in a while, I fell in love with the Charlie Brown's Super Book of Question and Answers, a book that I think my mother got for me to get me to stop asking questions about everything.I quickly moved on to the similarly named sequels, loading my brain with piles of modestly useful information and probably contributing to the obnoxious know-it-all personality I cultivated as a nine or ten year old. Like the Richard Scarry books, what drew me to these books were the reams of facts and explanations that were loaded into them, and which I was then able to unload into my brain. The fact that this information was provided by Charlie Brown, Lucy Van Pelt, and Snoopy was a bonus.


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8 comments:

  1. Richard Scarry and Snoopy were awesome!Almost makes me miss my childhood!

    old follower via gfc and now following you through bloglovin!

    Guinevere & Libertad @ Twinja Book Reviews

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    1. @Guinevere & Libertad Tomas: Plus, Snoopy with lots of esoteric information!

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  2. Aw great pick! Brings back some memories! Check out what I picked =)

    new linky follower


    -Amanda P


    Where the Night Kind Roam

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  3. Ahhhh . . .I also forgot about Mog!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-) Some great books here . . .
    New follower :-)
    Kirsty @ All in One Place
    http://www.kvlovesbooks.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. @kirsty vizard: Mog the Forgetful Cat is a great book. I wonder if it says something about me or something about the children's book publishing world that so many of my favorite picture books feature animals in various stages of anthropomorphization.

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  4. What a great, thoughtful answer.

    Also, I've never read "Mog," but what a good name for a cat! The only other literary cat name that I've come across that I like nearly as much is "Ratbag" from Terry Pratchett's "Wee Free Men."

    Here's my FF. Swing by if you feel so inclined!:
    http://thepookapicks.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/feature-follow-friday-9/

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    1. @thepookapicks: Mog the Forgetful Cat is a cute book.

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