Sunday, April 23, 2006

The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury-- Janet Schulman



If you are looking for a terrific children's story collection, you should check out "The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury", edited by famed children's book editor Janet Schulman. Schulman has a knack for selecting the best of the bunch amongst children's stories.

The story selections span the 20th century-- from selections from the 1920's all the way through the 1990's. The thing is, the stories from the 1920's and 1930's don't seem dated in the least. In fact, they are beloved children's classics that your child is likely already familiar with.

The book includes works from more than 60 children's writers and artists. You will find old favorites along with new surprises, all compiled in one handsome volume. I bought this book as a gift for my child and it is still one of her favorites. Here are some of the great stories that are included in this book:

You get Ludwig Bemelman's classic story "Madeline" (originally published in 1939). It's the tale of a Parisian schoolgirl.

There's also the preschool favorite, "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bill Martin Jr. It's a catchy story with an irresistible rhythm to it.

Margaret Wise Brown's classic "Goodnight Moon" is also included-- fully illustrated and just as wonderful as it was when it first came out in 1947.

My favorite childhood story, Ezra Jack Keats' "The Snowy Day" is another great selection. It is a thrill for me to share this great story with my own children-- and it may bring back a memory for you, too.

Robert McCloskey's "Make Way for Duckling" is an award winning story of a mallard family looking for a place to live.

There are a couple longer stories, like "A Million Fish… More or Less" by Patricia McKissack and "Millions of Cats" by Wanda Gag (by longer stories I mean a surplus of words and just a few pictures). Then there's a story with no words at all-- just a sequence of pictures that tell the tale of Mercer Mayer's "A Boy, A Dog and a Frog".

There are familiar favorites, like Sam McBratney's "Guess How Much I Love You", the story of Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare.

One of my favorite stories in this collection is Judith Voirst's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day". Older preschoolers and young school age kids will love this tale about a day where everything goes wrong for a young boy. It's funny and well written and guaranteed to get some laughs from your children.

With the recent release of the film version of "Curious George" it's great to see that the original story of eth curious monkey, by H.A. Rey, is in this book. If it's been a while since you've read this story, you'll love reading it to your kids.

The award winning "Where the Wild Things Are", written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, is the story of a boy's vivid imagination after he is sent to his room with no supper.

William Steig's classic, "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" is included, as is Virginia Lee Burton's "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel". Other classics include 1926's "In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets into a Tight Place" by A.A. Milne, "The Story of Babar" (Jean de Brunhof), "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf and Gene Zion's "Harry the Dirty Dog".

Some of the characters from these stories have been developed into modern day television shows, including the Bernstein bears ("The Berenstein Bears and the Spooky Tree") and the aardvark named Arthur ("D.W. The Picky Eater") .

Stories from several generations of childhood are include din this book, like "Petunia' by Roger Duvoisin (from 1950) and 1863's "Amelia Bedelia'.

If you're a Richard Scarry fan, then you will love his illustrations for the story "I Am A Bunny" (written by Ole Risom).

No children's story collection would be complete without a selection by Dr. Suess. Included here is the 1961 story "The Sneetches".

Stories from the latter part of the century include Janell Cannon's "Stellaluna" and "First Tomato" by Rosemary Wells (of "Max and Ruby" fame).

The oldest story in the collection (as least as far as text goes, is actually from the 19th century--1899 to be exact. "The Story of Little Babaji" by Helen Bannerman was written in 1899, but the illustrations included in this book have updated it to the year 1996.

The book also includes complete biographical notes about the authors, something that I always find interesting to read. This book is definitely a must-own if you love children's literature.

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