Sunday, April 1, 2012

Out of Print but Oh, Still So Good

Today sunrise was at 6:47 and sunset will be at 7:40.

It is a blustery day, Pooh. It's been windy since just about 3 am, not as continuous as it was pre-dawn, but off and on with pretty good sized rain showers and then massively sunny spots. Stripes of weather. I couldn't sleep last night so watched SNL and then tried to figure out how to do the simplest Sudoku and then it was early morning. I was pretty surprised to hear the birds chirping between wind gusts at 4 am. Where are they? Do they huddle in the crooks between branch and trunk between breaks in the weather? I finally turned the light out at 5. It wasn't light yet but the air and land traffic had picked up, people heading to work or home, and I figured I could get in a few hours of sleep before I had to get up.

Way back when I first started working at All for Kids Books, I got to meet Timothy Bush, the author of James in the House of Aunt Prudence and Three at Sea, two really great stories, funny, creative stories about boys and the trouble they get into.

I love his humor, it's adult enough for adults to appreciate and he leaves it to the kids to figure it out.

I got to have dinner with him in Eugene, at the PNBA's fall trade show, and the group talked way into the night. I think we went to the Excelsior. Anyway, what I remember most was that he talked about how he wanted to buy something special when he got his first book published, a specific cup and saucer that he had seen in a store called Fishs Eddy, white with black checkered edges. He painted a picture of the set in the James book. Well, I carried that story with me all those years and when I finally went to New York for the first time, I found Fishs Eddy and the same cups and saucers! I brought one home and every time I see it I think of Tim and his books and his wish for that cup and saucer. Just had to share that with you.

James in the House of Aunt Prudence: James is a particularly self-assured young man with the ability to stay cool under the worse circumstances. He's gone to visit his Aunt Prudence, hoping for a tour of the house but is left alone with tea and macaroons while she finishes a letter. While James waits, the bear arrives, but there aren't enough macaroons to go around so they go to find more. There's an encounter with the mouse king and a valiant fight with squids, African masks come to life, and all the art work comes alive and off the walls. When Aunt Prudence finally comes back, she takes one look around at the mess and says, "I suppose the bear's in pieces." A very funny, understated book. The illustrations are filled with surprises to look for and it has a spectacular, rich palette of colors.

Three at Sea: Three boys floating lazily on the river, letting it take them where it goes. But it heads out to sea! The boys are a little concerned about this and try to convince the denizens of the sea to haul them back to shore. Each of these endangered species is worried about doing anything to help the humans; they haven't done much for them! Until the crocodile shows up! Using the knowledge he has amassed about animals, Zachariah Jr. knows just what to do.

Again, a very nice use of color, the humor is spot on, and I love the relationship between the boys. A little didactic for now, maybe, but still a great read.

Both of these books are now out of print. Check the library - if you have younger boys at home, they would love these. I think they'd be appropriate for kids up to age 9. The language and the humor is fairly sophisticated and the jokes in the illustrations will keep them involved with the story.

(No money exchanged hands for the review of these books.)

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