I love children's books. I have collected them for years. In fact, many years ago, I decided that wherever I travel (and there was a time in my life when I traveled a lot -- and far and wide!), I'd seek out a local children's books. It is a fun collection. (If you know how to read Tagalog -- the language in the Phillipines -- let me know. I have a book with lovely pictures that I've made up the words to.)
I'll let you in on a little secret...
I've also always dreamed of writing a children's book. I even purchased some books and took a class to teach me more about the children's book writing and publishing process. But, dream sidelined for now. Instead, I read children's books to my children everyday.
Despite the huge collection, I do have a few super favorites-- and, big surprise, they are either about Maine and/or written by Maine-rs. Here's my list:
- Pretty much anything written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey. I especially love Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine. My husband and I actually contemplated buying (we lived up in that area of Maine for a spell) the general store in the town where One Morning in Maine is set. McCloskey isn't from Maine originally, but spent summers there beginning in the 1940s and died in his Deer Isle home in 2003. I especially love Blueberries for Sal as the "kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk" of blueberries hitting the bottom of the pail is so a part of my childhood. I am pleased to report, however, that, unlike Sal, my bear encounters didn't happen until I was an adult.
- Miss Rumphius, written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. It is a wonderful story about the author's aunt who was told as a young child that she must do something to make the world more beautiful. Miss Rumphius travels the world looking for the answer. And, in her old age, she determines that spreading beauty seed-by-seed was the right approach. The illustrations are wonderful--and, if you live in (or have traveled to) Maine in early summer, it is pretty easy to believe that Miss Rumphius has been there. To this day, when we drive down a road with hills of lupine, my daughter says, "Looks like the Lupine Lady has been here." (On a side note: I just discovered that there is a blog called The Miss Rumphius Effect. The blog reviews poetry and nonfiction for young readers through the middle grades. Check it out!)
- Dahlov Ipcar's Lobsterman. It's the story of a day in the life of a lobsterman's son, working alongside his father. Ms. Ipcar is a local writer and illustrator (our local library boasts a glorious mural painted by her!) and has, in fact, just re-issued a number of her books in limited editions. A year ago I stood in line, many months pregnant, just to have the chance to meet her and have her sign a copy of her re-released edition of My Wonderful Christmas Tree (oh, how beautiful!). Interested in meeting Ms. Ipcar and having one of her new edition books signed? Here's a listing of some upcoming signings.
- E.B. White's Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. Classics, really. My husband and I love to dine at the Inn which was once E.B. White's farmhouse in Brooklin, Maine.