Should erotic, shirtless Fabio be friends with the Berenstain Bears? Can the romance paperback Just One Touch make nice with Hop on Pop? How about a biography of ax-murderer Lizzie Borden just chilling with a picture book of baby pigs?
Anything goes at the Headless Library, but I’d like to avoid bombarding my juvenile patrons with heaving bosoms and patricidal carnage, if I can help it. Thus, with the Headless Library fast outgrowing her breadbox, I decided to plant a new library off-shoot, just for children’s books (Fabio Jr., etc.).
One Christmas penguin lawn ornament, some modge podge, a shiny yellow bread box, and a power drill later, Penny was born.
I let Raymond try it out before putting any books into it. His review was mixed:
After Raymond’s graceful departure, it was time to load it up!
And don’t go thinking these books are just for kids–I read almost all of them before putting them out… In case you’re wondering what your taste in children’s books says about you, there’s a helpful list.
I’m Too Big / Soy Demasiado Grande | Lone Morton
Giraffe wishes he was an elephant. Elephant wishes he was a giraffe. There’s a lesson in here somewhere, and it’s in both English and Spanish. This bilingual book has added several useful phrases to my limited Spanish repertoire, including “Yo queiro unas orejas grandes.” (I want big ears.)
Penny’s Library was up for all of about five minutes before the neighbor kids wandered over, picked this one up and started reading out loud to each other on the curb in Spanish. My grasp of the language is limited (except for talking about large ears), but they used different voices for the giraffe and the elephant and I about died. Penny’s first visitors.
Pippi Longstocking | Astrid Lindgren
Full name? Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking. Pippi is the “strongest girl in the world” and lives essentially without parental supervision, while her father sails in the South Seas. This is her inaugural adventure.
Pippi Longstocking and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo share a cultural homeland–Sweden. In 2010, the New York Times mused on whether Lisbeth Salander (she’s the lady with the tattoo, in case you’ve dodged all major media for several years) was in fact the grown-up version of Pippi. Having read Dragon Tattoo, I really hope not.
Peter Pan | J.M. Barrie
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
You know how this story goes. It’s a lovely classic, and this copy’s been done with a stylish sparkling crocodile on the cover, ’cause that’s hip these days.
If you’re a Pan fan, including the early 90s movie Hook, and are in need of a laugh, check out what the movie’s lost boys have been up to in the twenty years since (spoiler alert: not much, except for Rufio).
Me Too, Iguana | Jacquelyn Reinach
This iguana wants to be like everybody she sees. But can she learn to just be herself?
This is one of the Sweet Pickles books–a series that deals with the entire of alphabet of animals’ insecurities and eccentricities. You can catch them all below, but my favorite might be the X-Rating Xerus, because there aren’t enough books about African ground squirrels who censor films.
Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road? | Gordom Korman
Three 4th graders set out to win their schools “Good Deed” contest, but something involving copious amounts of undergarments goes horribly, horribly awry. Hijinks ensue.
If the tagline doesn’t get you, I don’t know what will: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…underwear?
Put down your Faust and pick this one up.
The Time Warp Trio: Your Mother Was A Neanderthal | Jon Scieszka
Who doesn’t enjoy small children’s book reports posted as Amazon reviews? Zachary reports that:
“Your Mother Was A Neanderthal is about three boys named Fred,Sam,and Joe who go to the past and see LIVE NEANDERTHALS!!! When they are there,they go through a lot of adventures such as teaching the Neanderthals to read and write.
Hope is found in this book because they hoped they would get back to the future because they were in the past.
A message in the story is never get ahead of your self.I agree with this because sometimes when I write stories,I put important things in front of other important things.Another is never give up.I agree with this because I never give up when hard things happen.”
Never give up, Zachary.
The Egypt Game | Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Hands down my favorite chapter book growing up. Made quite a few Quaker Oatmeal canister Egyptian king hats in my time. It features a rag-tag group of neighborhood kids who break into a junkyard, build a fort, and hold secret meetings where they recreate Egyptian-inspired rituals. Then things start to get weird.
The Booklist review says: “Tailor-made for children who love the thought of rambling mansions, garden mazes, and hidden treasure.”
…isn’t that every kid?
Holes | Louis Sachar
“If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy.”
Another childhood favorite! Poor Stanley Ylenats (Yelnats is “Stanley” spelled backwards), through a miscarriage of justice, is sentenced to a youth work camp for supposedly stealing a basketball player’s shoes. There, he must dig a hole everyday, which gets Stanley thinking: what’s the real point of these holes? Does the warden actually have them out looking for something? And what could it be?
A child’s review of Holes from Amazon: “He did a great job writing this book because he four shadows and sets the book up in a great way. Its genre is realistic fiction because it could be real.”
Four shadowing is my favorite literary device.
More soon from the Headless Library and her new penguin companion.