About Me

My name is Genevieve Woods and in addition to being the mother of an adorable preschooler named Oscar and his adorable toddler brother Henry, I am the Children's Buyer at Spellbinder Books, a small independent bookstore in Bishop, California. I am often asked by customers for recommendations...and thus the idea for this blog was sparked.

Many sites recommending books for kids are created by librarians and non-profits. While these are great sites, they often recommend out-of-print books. This site is all about the great books that are available now! While I am not being paid for these recommendations, I would appreciate it if readers would purchase the books I recommend from local independent bookstores, or even B&N. Basically don't buy from the evil empire (A_A_O_), because if you do much of our literary knowledge will be lost.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oooh Ahhh Da? Go go? Can you read me some more Richard Scarry please?

As the former manager of multiple parent education programs for a local non-profit, I went to numerous trainings that discussed the need for crisp, clear, simple pictures in children's books with lots of contrast. And I can say that when Oscar was an infant bold simple lines did get his attention. The problem is kids don't stay infants for long. At 18 months Oscar has not yet discarded the board books of his infant past, but they are NOT his first choice. His first choice are books with busy pictures, with lots of different things to point to, and preferably filled with cars, trains, and planes, tractors all of which Oscar calls "go go". Essentially Oscar's first choice is Richard Scarry.

Richard Scarry, the author I grew up with and knew so well, is and I suppose will always be, popular. Pictures of rabbits, pigs, and worms driving and inevitably crashing cars resonates with kids. Fortunately Richard Scarry has A LOT of books, so though my beautiful child always wants to read his stories, at least I have a number of stories to choose from. We have Busiest Fire Fighter's Ever, Please and Thank You Book, A Day at the Airport and The Best Mistake Ever! and other Stories all of which were $3.99. We also have Richard Scarry's What do People Do All Day big book, which retails for $14.00 The big book is Oscar's favorite, and my least favorite; it is big, and FILLED with lots of pictures and lots of stories, and Oscar wants me to read it to him for hours. I love reading to my child, but my throat does get sore after a while. So I prefer Richard Scarry's shorter books, but Oscar disagrees.

Though Richard Scarry remains popular and relevant, there have been some revisions to his stories, many of which were first published in the 60s and 70s.  Here is a link to an awesome comparison of the 1963 and the 1991 edition of the Best Word Book Ever. Even the modern editions printed in the 90's don't include cell phones; in the Busiest Fire Fighters Ever! Mr Frumble alerts the fire fighters to a fire by pulling the handle of the alarm box in the street. Today he would dial 911 on his cell phone, and if he didn't have a cell phone he would flag down other pedestrians or drivers on the street to use their cell phone. (I'm one of those rare people without a cell, but don't worry I have a plan, in emergencies I'll use other people's phones). Regardless, the alarm box on the street goes over Oscar's head; he likes the fire engines, and the pigs wearing colander helmets. Actually Oscar is too young to get the the joke of the fire fighter pigs wearing colander helmets, but I get it, and it does make the book more enjoyable for me. This is important, because I have to read the book over and over and over and over and over AGAIN!

Incidentally, in 1968 Richard Scarry received an advance of up to $100,000.000 for What Do People Do All Day, he was outselling Dr. Seuss, and yet he never won any awards for his work. Here is a link to an excellent short biography of the man.