What makes a book stand the test of time? I was reading a book to my kiddos today that was mine when I was a child, and wondering what it was about it that made it so memorable to me. After reading it, I pointed out the names of the author and illustrator, and then explained the difference. I asked them if they liked the book, and if so, to explain why.
They all said that they liked it, but it was my six year old that spoke up first about the illustrations. This is definitely what stood out to me as a child. As an adult, I still remember the short stories inside (cute, not amazing), but every time I’ve gone to purge the allotted shelves of children’s stories, time and time again, I thought it would be such a shame to get rid of such a beautifully illustrated book.
This particular book is The Book of Giant Stories by David L. Harrison, and illustrated by Philippe Fix. I found other books authored by Harrison, but they were mostly Level 2 reading books (never knew one to stand the test of time). I then looked up Philippe Fix and found some other books illustrated by him that were very nice looking, but hard to tell without being able to look inside. I guess this one had just the right combo for me. A few good stories and amazing pictures.
If you’ve ever read any of Jane Yolen‘s dinosaur books, you would know how much good illustrating helps. The poems are adorable… but really their pretty simple. Will these books be around in ten years. I actually think they will. But I also think this is in part due to it’s amazing illustrations.
Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Maurice Sendak is a simply written book, but its story is very, very sweet, and the water color illustrations are just beautiful. And if it’s the same person, Sendak both authored and illustrated Where the Wild Things Are, by the way. Which (don’t yell at me) I’ve never read. What?! I know. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be a classic. At least it’s illustrations are pretty exceptional. I’ve never heard if the story is any good. Please feel free to let me know what you think of that one.
The kids love, love, love “Stand Back,” said the Elephant, “I’m going to sneeze!” by Patricia Thomas and illustrated by Wallace Tripp. This story is mostly in rhyme, but I think that the author does such a good job, that I’ve been wanting to look up more of her books.
Lucille by Arnold Lobel (authored and illustrated) is just plain cute all around. Kids love and I’ve loved it since I was a kid. Story and illustrations are great! This is an example of simpler illustrations, but they just stick out to you. Lobel also does the Frog and Toad collection if you’ve ever read those, and Ming Lo Moves the Mountain. I found that out just now by looking on Amazon for other things he wrote. But I just bought it at a used book store last month! I just haven’t read it yet. 🙂 What?! I am now so excited to go pull that one off the shelf.
Now this one will just break your heart as you fight through a constricting throat and teary eyes to get through the last few pages.
What do you think makes a book memorable? What do you think makes it stand out amongst others? I suppose it’s probably purely subjective for many books, as I’ve never heard of anyone else knowing about these that I’ve mention. But let me know what you think. What books have you read that have stuck with you over the years?
For myself, I just started reading The Baronet’s Song by George MacDonald. It’s not the sort of fiction I usually read. There is far more narrative and far less actual dialogue than I’m used to, but I’m enjoying it so far. I looked up this author and found that he’s written a number of stories that are geared more towards older children. One in particular that I remember reading when I was young is The Princess and Curdie. I know he’s a famous author, I was just not very familiar with his works. I’m happy to be reading one now, and look forward to introducing some to my eldest daughter.