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QI Children's books

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2741.  Thu Dec 04, 2003 7:29 am Reply with quote

I wanted to start this on a separate thread, so that it doesn't get caught up in the middle of adult books. Children's books are a highly important topic - what is more important than some of the major influences to thought that our children encounter?

If you know any good children's books, or you're looking for children's books on a particular theme and you want to pick people's brains, start here....

2742.  Thu Dec 04, 2003 7:35 am Reply with quote

Here's one I came across that I thought irresistible, though as it's on rather than I'm not sure if it's available in the UK. It may also be rather American in its vocabulary for British tastes, but maybe we have some American posters here who would be interested. This looks like an excellent book for children in year 3 (second grade) to me, and younger children would enjoy having it read to them because the pictures are good.

Flawed Dogs: The Year End Leftovers at the Piddleton "Last Chance" Dog Pound by Berkeley Breathed

The Amazon review goes thus:

Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and children's picture book author Berkeley Breathed crafts a remarkable, hilarious, and yes, even poignant celebration of "flawed dogs": "The bent and plain,/ The unbalanced bod,/ The imperfect people/ And differently pawed." At the core of this "2004 Catalogue of the Piddleton Dog Pound's Very Available Leftovers" is Heidy Strudelberg, "Garbo, Joan of Arc, and Mother Teresa of the nation's unwanted dogs: a reclusive warrior-saint of poundpups." Breathed reveals how Heidy was ousted from the high-falutiní vanity dog breeding world when she awarded a muddy three-legged street mutt the Westminster Best in Show ribbon. Now, it seems, Heidy has retreated to the Vermont mountains to run the Last Chance Dog Pound, where defective dogs go for one more attempt at getting adopted. The bulk of Flawed Dogs, once you've laughed your way through the introductions and formalities, is a gallery of pathetic pups with accompanying verses. A picture of an extra-long Dachshund startling the dishes right out of her mistress's hands, is captioned thus: "Hereís Sal, it seems no one wants her./ Her ends will stroll off and wander./ A long doggie weenie/ Of noisy linguine/ Sal barks at her butt way down yonder." Dog lovers will be all in a tizzy to get their hands on this crazy, wonderful salute to blemished beagles and faulty foxhounds everywhere. (Ages 8 and older) --Emilie Coulter

2743.  Thu Dec 04, 2003 7:48 am Reply with quote

I am known to bang on at inordinate length about the importance of giving children poetry to read, and I've just read a review of a book that I'd dearly like to get hold of for my own interest:

Overheard on a Saltmarsh - Poets' Favourite Poems, edited by Carol Ann Duffy. Published by Young Picador, £7.99.

Carol Ann Duffy is a wonderful poet in her own right, and for this anthology she invited 29 leading poets published today - people like Kit Wright, Jackie Kay, Andrew Motion and Sujata Bhatt - and invited them to select their favourite children's poem to appear alongside a poem of their own. This creates a wonderful mixture of past and present. The title is that of a poem I remember reading as a child:

Overheard on a Saltmarsh

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?

Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them?

Give them me.

Give them me. Give them me.

Then I will howl all night in the reeds,
Lie in the mud and howl for them.

Goblin, why do you love them so?

They are better than stars or water,
Better than voices of winds that sing,
Better than any man's fair daughter,
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

Hush, I stole them out of the moon.

Give me your beads, I want them.

I will howl in the deep lagoon
For your green glass beads, I love them so.
Give them me. Give them.

Harold Monro

Details on PanMacmillan's website:

2867.  Sat Dec 06, 2003 1:04 pm Reply with quote

I've just read a book called The Dragon's Son, by Sarah Thomson. Sadly I don't think this is published in the UK, but it is very well-written. It's a version of the Arthurian legend with an attempt to place it in a historical context (just after the fall of the Roman empire in Britain). It's told from the point of view of four different characters successively, and I think she brings it off rather well.

2921.  Mon Dec 08, 2003 8:23 am Reply with quote

Anybody got any views on the Lemony Snicket books? I read the first three, and found the first one highly diverting, but it all got very deja vu by the time I'd read the third, so I didn't go any further.

Another one I find a bit overrated is Artemis Fowl - a reasonably good read, but no more than that, I'd say.

2998.  Tue Dec 09, 2003 8:14 am Reply with quote

I've suddenly thought about the Asterix books - we really ought to have those in the QI bookshop if we're going to have any children's books in there - they cross boundaries between children's and adults' books too.

3243.  Sat Dec 13, 2003 7:11 am Reply with quote

Dear Jenny,

Isn't it nice to talk to yourself? At least you know somebody's listening?

I like a book called 'Winners' by Mary-Ellen L. Collura [lovely name!] It's about a part-Blackfoot boy who works his way out of trouble through long-distance riding. A book of hope, but not poetic or preachy - it should be in every school to inspire 'bad' kids. Though few of them will have a grandfather who can give them a pony, I suppose.

3244.  Sat Dec 13, 2003 7:50 am Reply with quote

At last! I wondered when you'd find this thread, Frances :-)

I haven't come across that book, so I'll look out for it - thanks.

A book called 'Holes' by Louis Sachar won a lot of awards recently, and even had a film made out of it, but I felt very lukewarm towards it. Have you come across that one? You'd enjoy 'The Dragon's Son' that I referred to above, I think. The author is somebody I know here in Portland, a very nice young woman who used to be an editor at Harper Collins and therefore knows what's what.

Old Bailey
4430.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 10:59 am Reply with quote

Exuse the cut and paste list, but these are some of the best books in my collection.
A few of them, I have to admit, I haven't actually read.
In some cases I have many copies, but by different Illustrators.
I have indicated, in my opinion the best Illustrated version.

Adventures of Tin Tin
Author: Herge

Author/ Illust: Art Spiegelmann

The little Grey Men
Author: BB

Any of the Classics Illustrated by N.C.Wyeth
(Robin Hood, Kidnapped, The Black Arrow,
Westward Ho!, Treasure Island, The Yearling
Robinson Crusoe?)

Rose Blanche
Author: Christophe Gallaz
Illust: Innocenti

Any of the Classics Illustrated by Innocenti
(Nutcracker, Christmas Carol, Cinderella)

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
Author: Susn Wojciechowski
Illust: P.J.Lynch

Oscar Wilde Stories for Children
Illust: P.J.Lynch

When Jessie Came across the Sea
Author: Amy Hest
Illust: P.J.Lynch

Mowglis's Brothers
Author: Rudyard Kipling
Illust: Christopher Wormell

The Child's Story
Author: Charles Dickens
Illust: Harvey Chan

Author: Paul Fleischman
Illust: Kevin Hawkes

Angus Rides the Goods train
Alan Durrant
Illust: Chris Riddell

The Birthday Presents
Paul Stewart
Illust: Chris Riddell

Calvin and Hobbes (Series)
Author/ Illust: Bill Watterson

Mr Peabody's Apples
Author: Madonna

Many of these books are just great to read to your kids
or eventually to read themselves. The Illustrations are the
key to getting my kids begging for more. If you stock these
books, be sure to provide a comfy reading area too.
The bookshop I buy from has a reading lady, who twice a week
reads to groups of enchanted visitors. Might be a good thing
at the Q.I. store. Enjoy.

Old Bailey

4431.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 11:05 am Reply with quote

Thanks Old Bailey and welcome :-)

I've read some of the books on your list, and heard good things about some of the others. Angus Rides the Goods Train is an excellent picture book (but Chris Riddell always does fabulous illustrations). I would like to read Weslandia, as it got such good reviews, but I haven't seen it for sale over here in the US.

I have to confess to feeling dubious about anything by Madonna, who I doubt would find a publisher if she didn't have the important attribute of name-recognition. But maybe that's just me being bitchy.

Nice to see the mention of Maus, too. I do like good graphic novels. Have you seen any of Raymond Briggs' books? He did a brilliant one that was a kind of autobiography - although the title escapes me at the moment - as well as the magnificent Fungus the Bogeyman and When the Wind Blows of course.

Old Bailey
4432.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 11:44 am Reply with quote

The only autobigraphical title that spring to mind is "Ethel and Ernest"
although I think it's more about his parents than himself. Beautifully drawn though.
(Note to self: get copy).

The Madonna book, I picked up because of the Illustrator. It wasn't til
I read a poor review, that I realised I actually had a copy.

Having read the book now. I have to say its not a bad little story.
I suspect Madonna sold less copies because of the name,
and would perhaps have done better if she had used (another) new name.

I notice in Liff string that our neighbous in Datchet have at last found fame.

Until now it was only known as the preffered route of the late Queen Mum,
to avoid traffic on the M4 when coming back from Buck Pal.

Sadly since her death it is now just another village.

Old Bailey

4447.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 4:46 pm Reply with quote

Ethel and Ernest - that's the one! I read it all the way through in a bookshop, one bored afternoon, but never bought it.

Can you think of a Meaning of Liff meaning for Windsor? I feel sure there must be one...

4452.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 4:59 pm Reply with quote

A Windsor, now obsolete, was the fancy extending framework which held a skein of wool for a knitter to wind it into a ball.

4470.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 8:20 pm Reply with quote

When I was growing up, that task was always delegated to the youngest in the family (me)

7577.  Tue Jun 15, 2004 10:21 am Reply with quote

Now is the time, children, to read Ulysses as tomorrow (16th June 2004) is a special Bloomsday. 100 years since Leopold Bloom wandered around Dublin in a stream of consciousness without getting all wet. And try to make lunch from a glass of burgundy, some gorgonzola and an italian olive WHEREVER you are. We can't all be in Davy Byrne's.


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