Thursday, September 15, 2011

Retro Reading

I was read to often as a child, mostly by my mother before bed. I loved books for as long as I could remember. Since I was a child of the 70’s and 80’s, I didn’t have the vast choices of board books and children’s literature that was available today. I was read some of the classics of course like Dr. Seuss and Little Golden Books. I vaguely remember having some kind of book club that delivered books through the mail. I have to admit I didn’t make an effort to find my childhood books when I had a son of my own, but a friend had given me a gift of 2 little books that came right from the 80’s and reminded me of being read to as a child. While difficult to find in print these days, although not impossible, these books are a treasure especially for those of us who remember the originals from the 70’s and 80’s.

Some of these books I am 100% sure I had in my house when I was a child, others seem familiar. (Remind me to ask my mom about which we had!) I did just a little research and found out that the books were a series that was offered from Parent’s Magazine as a books club. The illustrations, at times, scream 70’s and 80’s, but I don’t mind and neither does my Lil Guy. While the books are sweet and simple, they do lack diversity. Here are some of titles that I remember:

Pigs in the House

Pigs In The House by Steven Kroll is one of these books we have at our house for Lil Guy.  The book is paperback, but laminated and made from heavy weight paper, so it is very durable.  The illustrations are sweet and simple with characters and scenes but plain white background images.  The story is set in rhyme with short phrasing but a complete story of these three little pig’s adventure.

Everything seems calm on the farm until the pig pen gate is left open.  No one even notices when the pigs sneak into the house!  They go through all the rooms in the house, finding trouble everywhere they go.  The pigs even find items in attic to make costumes.  Throughout the book, the pigs are not humanlike in their behavior, rather they act like wild beings, eating entire cakes and jumping on beds.  After the entire adventure, they escape thanks to some outrageous costumes.  (One pig is wearing a Santa beard, red high heels, and a pink and white lacy dress.  Another pig costumes a lampshade hat, a glove on his behind and a stripy shirt.)  Yes, the illustrations are laugh out loud hilarious.
Lil Guy and I like this book a lot and we read it quite often.  It has an enjoyable story and makes us laugh.  There is plenty to talk about in the story.  One of the other bonus’s of this book is that it is light and slim, easy to tote around in the diaper bag, in the car, and everywhere in between.  I also think this is a story that will be a favorite for quite a long time.

But No Elephants

But No Elephants by Jerry Smith is one of those silly books that has a story that doesn’t quite make sense, but makes you smile.  Again, the book is paperback with heavy weight paper and cute illustrations.  The story this time is in prose, but has a predictable pattern to the story, with the main character, Grandma Tildy refusing to let an elephant join her menagerie of pets over and over again.

Grandma Tildy is a sweet old lady living by herself.  She is rather busy taking care of her life, her little cabin, her shopping, and her cooking, until one day she is visited by ‘the pet man’ who sells her a little bird.  The bird lightens Grandma Tildy’s mood, so when the pet man come again and again she doesn’t hesitate to by more pets.  Grandma Tildy’s only rule is; “But No Elephants!”  Well, as you probably already guessed, an elephant becomes Grandma Tildy’s uninvited guest and he doesn’t make friends with Grandma when he eats all of the food and even breaks the house.  Finally, just when things are going from bad to worse, the elephant helps Grandma Tildy in a very unexpected way.

I do like this book, especially for hearing my Lil Guy say, “But Nooooooo Elephants!” The story is cute, but flat with this strange character of the pet man who dresses a little like he should be in a circus with clown like pants, shoes, and bowtie.  (Who ever heard of a door to door pet salesman, anyway?)  This book shows its age both in the illustrations and in the flat characters, who don’t show much emotion or thought.  I like this book enough to keep it in our popular stack, but wish it offered a little more.

What about you?  Have you read any retro books lately?  Do you share your childhood favorites with your little ones?  Did you ever belong to one of these book club when you were a kid?  What do you remember?


  1. I read Pigs and No Elephants a million times to my own children! They adored them. Sorry to take so long getting back to you- My Very On Blanket has volunteers who will quilt donated tops. I also don't have the backing or batting, but MVOB gets a lot of that donated.

  2. Thanks Ms. Yingling, My Very Own Blanket will be hearing from me soon! It's great to see these retro books getting some action. Some of them are still great reads.