Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Patterson Pick arrived in the mail!

I got an email earlier this week from my cousin near Chicago:

Hi Cousin Dan and Family!

While rearranging furniture for the Christmas tree, I saw something in my bookcase and immediately thought of you.  It is an original (Aunt Betty) Patterson Pick.  I was going to send you my 40 something year-old copy, but I’m selfishly keeping it.  Hooray for Amazon!  Watch your mail……

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have over all these years!

Cousin Sara

What a tease!  What could Sara be sending us?  I imagined a certain picture book I remembered from so long ago, one I loved to look at when we visited them.

Last night the book arrived.  The same book!  Must have been a Christmas present my mom bought for her when I was five or six years old.  Feel like I might remember helping pick it out at the store with Mom.  Pickle Chiffon Pie by Jolly Roger Bradfield.  It’s this large format 1967 book originally published by Rand McNally, the altas people.  In all these years I’ve never seen it anywhere but at Aunt Mary and Uncle Ed’s house when I was a kid.

It’s a great story, a fairy tale about a wise king whose beautiful daughter is attracting all the eligible princes in the neighborhood.  Only problem is the princes always stay for dinner and cut into the king’s share of his beloved pickle chiffon pie.  (Mental note:  find the recipe.)   The king sends the three nicest princes on a quest, to bring back the most unusual and marvelous thing so that the winner may marry the princess.  In the forest they find ordinary things like small dragons, a troll peaking out of a tree, etc.  But they also see marvels like a three-headed dragon toasting marshmallows and a lion juggling six cans of root beer soup while rollerskating. Prince Bernard is sure he has found the winner when he captures a Three-nosed Snozzle who bakes enormous pickle chiffon pies.  But while he’s dragging the Snozzle back, the Snozzle cries over the little Snozzle youngsters he’s being dragged away from.  Prince Bernard lets him go and returns empty-handed.

I think you can predict, as my son did, how the story turns out.  It’s a literary marvel:  a story with no badness that rolls along and keeps the reader fully engaged.  And yes, the prince’s kindness is rewarded.

It’s a great story, but the magic for me was the great pictures.  When I was six, it was important new visual information.  (I was all about drawing.)  And I still admire the fun, cartoon style.  The drawings are in bold, black lines.  Some spreads are fully colored.  Others are a mix of the black outlines with only part of the picture colored in, such as the five black line mice painting bright, bold mouse variations on Whistler’s Mother, Toulouse-Lautrec and American Gothic.

Jolly Roger Bradfield has many books out.  He’s 88 years old, and would you believe he created the first Keebler elves in 1964?  He had a syndicated comic called Dooley’s World in the ‘70s, and he illustrated a new book in the Alvin Fernald series in 2009.  Go Roger!

Thanks, Cousin Sara!  We’ll treasure Pickle Chiffon Pie for many years.


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Filed under Age: Early Elementary, Age: Preschool, Fiction, Picture Books

Great books for the two and under crew

Patterson Picks has enjoyed a nice time of hibernation and is back to share the  first half of top Patterson Picks for the two and under crew. It was prompted by a friend recently asking me for suggestions for her one-year-old grandson. It was really fun to remember favorite books for our own kids, as well as books we enjoy giving newborns to grow into.

This round I will feature my Big Ten of great books and authors. The following authors and illustrators are great fun before age two. Many can be enjoyed well past age two!

1. I’m wild about Sandra Boynton, a greeting card artist in the ’80s who’s become a board book queen. We like Doggies and Blue Hat, Green Hat (fabulous for the baby getting to laugh and say “oops” on each page) and many others including Barnyard Dance. Her simple, cartoony dogs, ducks, cows etc. put adult and baby in a jolly mood. You got to love the bright, small format books when baby grabs and opens them.

2. I love Trucks Trucks Trucks, Fire Truck, Ship Ahoy and others by Peter Sis. A boy named Matt plays with his toys and they morph into the real thing! They’re visually both simple and absorbing. The Gender Equity Department just tapped me on the shoulder to mention that my daughter loved these as much as my son.

3. With our kids, especially our son, you couldn’t go wrong with large vehicles. So Donald Crews’ books Truck, Flying, Freight Train etc. were fabulous. Some or all come in a board book format. I have a picture of our then-toddler boy “bathing” in a sea of Donald Crews books on his bedroom floor. (In Truck it’s fun to find the main truck on a highway interchange and a Golden gate-like bridge.) Also look for the artist himself pictured somewhere in the book a la Hitchcock in his movies.

4. Another guy who writes and illustrates a similar kind of book is Byron Barton, including Boat, Planes, Machines at Work. Barton gives us very simple, solid illustrations.

5. And if you like movement, you can’t beat Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and Other Action Rhymes by Zita Newcombe. Each rhyme has a fun picture and smaller, clear diagrams of how to do the action/game. Makes a terrific gift.

6. Eric Carle is super-loved. You probably know The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He has a bundle of good ones. Many of his are in board book format.

7. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is equally famous. Super simple but full of rich details too. Gaze on the simple bedtime room on page after page as things get dark and the tiny mouse moves from spot to spot in Clement Hurd’s timeless illustrations. I can’t believe how many times I read through this timeless 1947 book with both kids and ALWAYS ENJOYED IT!

8. Don’t miss the recent series of wordless books by West Linn’s Kaaren Pixton. The series is called Indestructibles and they’re on this cool, heavy paper that won’t rip. (She challenged me to try and I couldn’t do a bit of damage.) Pixton has this amazing art technique involving vast quantities of painting and collage that yields these amazing animal portraits in their various habitats. Some are Mama and Baby! and Wiggle! March! and Jungle, Rumble.

9. The magic of fun times with your baby comes to life for both of you in “More, More, More” Said the Baby by Vera M. Williams. It’s three very short stories with three toddlers, each interacting with a mom, dad, or grandma. As I recall, there’s some tickling and some sleeping. Perfect!

10. Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla Frazee is a wonderful board book celebrating babies in all different settings. Frazee somehow gives us tons of wonderful detail to engage us on each page without overwhelming baby with images. It’s full of tiny stories in pictures. Wonderfully, Frazee shows us loving families of many stripes. Frazee also illustrates a board book Hush Little Baby: A Folk Song With Pictures. Of course, you get to sing the song as you turn the pages. But it’s also an ingenious story featuring a jealous older sister waking baby and then trying to get her back to sleep. A peddler comes to their house and tries various trinkets to get the baby to stop crying all to no avail until the wild ending after a sleepless night.

These books are my tops. What baby books are at the top of your list?

And stay tuned for part two, in which I will make a case for the two greatest under age two books I know of!


Filed under Age: Preschool, Picture Books, Reviews