Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Way You Make Me Feel - Karen Saunders

One of the things I love most about picture books is the way they can make you feel. My last post was about the power of picture books, and to me, a good picture book is just as emotive as a novel, sometimes even more so. So in this blog post, I thought I’d write about some of my favourite picture books, and the reactions they evoke. 

The Ones That Make Me Laugh…

Diary of a Wombat 

I adore the wombat of this book. He’s just fantastic. I love wombats anyway (what’s not to love about an animal that digs a hole just big enough to fit into, and sleeps in the sun most of the time? In my next life, I’ll be a wombat, please) and this story always makes me laugh, especially now I have a toddler of my own. There are a lot of similarities between that irrational wombat and toddlers, if you ask me…

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch

“Ah, well, such is life”, are the final words from Mr Grinling and is a catchphrase that has been regularly repeated by my mum and I over the years.  This book is just lovely, and I laugh every time the poor cat, Hamish, gets put in the basket to chase away the scavenging seagulls, but is far too travel sick to do anything about them. As soon as the basket appears in the pictures, my son points at it, shouting, ‘Hamish! Hamish!’ with glee.

The Ones That Make Me Cry…

Granpa by John Burningham

I’ve always struggled to get through this book without crying, for many reasons. It’s so beautiful, and so simple, and yet there’s so much going on. A wonderful depiction of a grandparent/child relationship, and the huge gap a grandparent leaves behind after they’re gone. 

Goodbye Mog

I’ve loved the Mog books from childhood, so when the last Mog book came out I wanted to read it, but I also knew it was probably going to make me cry. I didn’t realise quite how much… I made the mistake of picking it up in Waterstones, and ended up a blubbering mess in the middle of the children’s section. Beautiful book, though, and a fantastic way of introducing the topic of death to youngsters.

 The Ones That Make Me Reminisce…

Brambly Hedge – The Secret Staircase

Brambly Hedge makes me think about my childhood, and gets me feeling all nostalgic. I remember being transfixed by the secret world in the hedgerows. This story in particular stands out, I remember loving all the secret rooms Primose and Wilfred find, and their special costumes, and the idea of a midwinter festival. 

Hairy McLary from Donaldson’s Dairy
This book is wonderful, and a must for any dog lover (or cat lover, come to that). I didn’t have this myself, but my younger brother did, and in our house the milk was delivered from Robinson’s Dairy, so we used to change the words. A brilliant rhyming pattern, making it gorgeous to read out loud, with a fantastic angry cat noise to make when the dogs meet Scarface Claw, the toughest tom in town. 

These are some of my favourites, although obviously there are hundreds more I didn’t include. What about you? Which picture books make you happy, or sad, or remember your childhood?

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Abie Longstaff said...

Lovely post! My heart strings are always tugged when I read the books I loved as a child to my own children. I have a handful of old picture books my grandmother read to my father, and then my mother to me. Their pages are worn and some of the colours have bled or faded but it's so nice to read them still to my own kids. I hear my mother's voice in my ear when I do.

Lynne Garner said...

Perhaps my favourite is a booked called 'The Big Bad Mouse Is Coming.' I discovered it years ago and it's been on my shelf since then and comes out whenever nieces and nephews come over. It's a very simple idea with fantastic expressions on the farmyard animals. Another I love (which I found in a charity shop last year when looking for example books for a course I was teaching) is called 'It Could Have Been Worse.' The story follows the journey home of a little mouse who trips, falls and stumbles and each time he does the reader can see he narrowly misses being eaten by a snake, fox etc. Then last but not least 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt!'

Moira Butterfield said...

Thanks, Karen! Hairy MacClary was always a big favourite in our house. My youngest son, who has special needs, loves 'A Dinosaur Called Tiny' by Alan Durant. it's about a dinosaur who is physically very different from all the others, but saves the day.

Jane Clarke said...

I have a treasured pile of dog-eared, tattered, almost loved-to-death picture books that I read to my sons when they were small. It's hard to pick, but judging by falling-apart status, the one I read most (and can still recite) was The Quangle Wangle's Hat, by Edward Lear brilliantly illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. The sad and lonely Quangle Wangle finds surreal friends in a nonsense rhyme that manages to make perfect sense.

Gill Robins said...

The Hairy MacClary books, because my son loved them so much; John Burningham's 'Would you Rather?' because I read it to my son a record number of times the day before my daughter was born; 'Mr Gumpy's Outing' because I read it in school the other day and Reception loved it just as much as my own children did 20 years ago; Quentin Blake's 'Mr Magnolia' because my daughter loved chanting the rhyming words and later turned out the play the flute, just like his sisters . . . all of them because of the shared memories attached to them in that magic time before children learn to read independently. A very powerful medium.

Paeony Lewis said...

Karen, I really enjoyed your contemplative blog and I too teared up in Waterstones at 'Goodbye Mog'. Sniff.

Abie, you mentioned reading the picture books to your children that you loved as a child. I can't believe I never did that. I adored 'Pussy Willow' and 'Little Grey Donkey', so why did they remain on a dusty shelf? I'm puzzled by this. Was I wary that my joy wouldn't be duplicated?

Oh well, there are picture books that I shared with my children that still resonate with us. I'd choke up at the last line of 'Owl Babies' ("I love my mummy," said Bill.). 'The Whale Song' evoked a wistful longing and was my daughter's favourite. 'Tobblerobics' was always huge, physical fun. And perhaps 'Dear Zoo' could be blamed for all our pets?!

malachy doyle said...

I just looked on the shelf to see which were the most read and most loved picture books when our three were little, all of twenty-fiveish years ago:
Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles
Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present
The Summer Night
Burnie's Hill
The Tiger who came to Tea
Grandmother Lucy and her Hats
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Yertle the Turtle
and the most dog-eared of all?
yes, Dogger!

Pippa Goodhart said...

Yes, Dogger is the one that absolutely does it for me on every level!

Juliet Clare Bell said...

Debi Gliori's No Matter What always went down well -but the UK version rather than the radically altered American version (where they wouldn't allow reference to death!?!) and Malachy's Charlie is My Darling...