Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Top 5 Tuesday

Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I thought I'd go a different direction for Top 5 Tuesday this week, just in an effort to show to my loyal (2-3) readers that I'm not one-dimensional, and I actually do have interests beyond television, Rachael Ray, and the Twilight saga. Oops, I did it again! Wrote about Twilight in yet another post!

This week's list is devoted to my favorite childhood picture books. I was fortunate and blessed to grow up with a librarian mother who loves books and a father who loves to read them. From a very young age, I was absolutely surrounded with books, and truth be told, I found them more interesting than any toy or game. I had a trusty Fisher-Price tape player, and my first experiences with Disney movies were the books-on-tape versions-I'm still a little frightened of Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent and the terrifying hunter from The Fox and the Hound! Nothing could be better for preparation for reading than being immersed in books, and my parents did a great job by ensuring they were a crucial element in my childhood. I still have many of my favorites, and I've often used them in school or even just to reread for a trip down memory lane. I can't wait for the day I'm able to read them to my own children. Now, with no further adieu, I present my (very respectable and noteworthy) list of favorite picture books.

5. Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans. Now this particular title is probably on many best-loved children's books list, so I know it's not that unique. It's a really simple, unforgettable story, however. Who can forget the twelve little girls waking up in the night to poor Madeline's appendicitis? On one of my first visits to New York City, I used my copy of City Secrets to find Bemelman's Bar at the Carlyle Hotel, where there are murals painted by Bemelmans encircling the dark wooded seats. It brought my memories of reading Madeline back in a flash.

4. Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey. My mother might be surprised to see this classic on my list, because I don't think we even owned a copy at home. What I do vividly remember is reading this book at my grandmother's house. She had an old, faded copy (even when I was little), and I can remember wishing that the blueberries on the pages were really bright blue. I can almost hear the clinking they made in Sal's pail.

3. A Baby Sister for Frances, by Russell and Lillian Hoban. At some point in the future, I should probably make a Top 5 list of what I've learned from Frances. She is an incorrigible badger, with an amazing mother, who is able to gently and subtly teach her the way to be. I had a great tape of a collection of Frances stories, read by Glynis Johns, and we all listened to them over and over. I was thrilled to find a CD version, although I still have my original, well-worn cassette tape. All of the Frances books are wonderful, but this one, which touches upon sibling rivalry and the jealousy felt when a new baby comes along, is both touching and funny. "Things are not very good around here anymore..."

2. Patrick Eats His Dinner, by Geoffrey Hayes. Of all the books read to me as a child, this series stands out more than any others. Patrick Brown is a precocious little bear, always getting into scrapes and attempting to bend his mother's will. There's precious little dialogue on each page, but my dad really made it count when he read these stories to me. In this particular one, Patrick is forced to eat peas for dinner, much to his digust, before he is able to eat dessert. He sings a little song to himself as he mashes ketchup, honey, and various other condiments in the peas to hide the taste, and my dad came up with his very own tune. Even now, I can sing "Little green balls of mushy poison, little green balls of mushy poison..." and my dad will smile and remember. If you'll notice, I had to take a photo of the book, because it is out of print and I wasn't able to find a single image online. Two of the other Patrick books I own are fetching upwards of $250 from used booksellers, but you won't ever see me letting them go!

1. Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf. I don't think my mother would be surprised with my number 1 choice-it was her favorite, I think, to read to me when I was little. Ferdinand is a young bull in Spain, raised by a loving mother, and sadly, eventually destined to bull-fighting. All he really wants to do, however, is sit and smell the flowers. Another book with not much dialogue, it's really very good for reading to a young child. The black and white pictures of Ferdinand sitting alone in the huge fighting ring, taking in the scent of the flowers bedecking the ladies' hair, are really wonderful. It is a sweet, special book, one that I would recommend to anyone to page through, young or old.

I'm not sure how frequently I'll be able to blog during the holiday, but I'm sure that will be true of most of us terribly distracted by our blogs. I'm just going to enjoy taking in all of the things that I love about Christmas, the food, the family, the relaxing... I am trying to develop a list of New Year's resolutions in my mind-don't think I'll write a Top 5 on those! One of the main things I want to work on is reading more-I'm so easily distracted at home, and I would like to set aside some time every day just to read for pleasure. It would be nice if I could write critically and analytically sometimes on my blog about what I've read!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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