Shotgun Book Reviews: Bragging from a Helpless Hoarding Dad

Last weekend was a good weekend for acquiring books. I scored 137 children’s books in good to new condition for about $40.

Where??? Three garage sales and one library sale where I got first dibs because I volunteered to help set up the sale. Two other dads were clued into this insider’s bounty and brought their tween daughters to the library. Thank goodness those girls considered picture books to be baby stuff.

Why so many??? To make reading as fun and interesting as possible. Yes, this is one area where I plan to completely spoil my children. And besides, when’s the last time you saw a library stock Richard Scarry books?

A photo showing dozens of children's books scattered on my tabletop.

Yep, neat orderly stacks are boring, so I shoved ‘em around for this photo.

What follows are highlights from the catch. And yes, we do read them all. The story books don’t get put on our shelves until they’ve been read at least once. And yes, I do weed some lackluster titles out now and then.

But wait, more books!
A second photo showing dozens of children's books scattered on my tabletop.

Oh goodie, a few stacks.

A third photo showing dozens of children's books scattered on my tabletop.

Okay, now some quick reviews…

Cover of the book Different Like Me.

1. Different Just Like Me by Lori Mitchell. This picture book is my surprise favorite. It follows a girl’s trip around town each day, observing people along the way.

She sees a child using sign language, and riding on the bus “just like me.” And she sees people of all colors speaking multiple languages, all shopping at the farmer’s market “just like me.” Some people she meets are different from the majority population (say, a woman in a wheelchair) while others (say, a white man eating at a diner) might see ordinary if you’re white in a predominantly white town like me.

There are three nice touches:

  1. People-spotting pages depict individuals in full color while the background scenery is black-and-white.
  2. A sign language alphabet is included on a hearing-impaired page.
  3. The numbers 1 through 5 are depicted in raised Braille dots on a vision-impaired page.

The story concludes with the girl bringing home a bouquet of flowers from her grandmother’s garden, and remarking that they are all different and beautiful just like the people she has met. See the book’s website too.

The cover of the book Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.

2. Richard Scarry – Our journey began three years ago with Richard Scarry’s Biggest Word Book Ever. Either you remember Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm, Mr. Frumble and the gang from your childhood, or you wonder what’s all the fuss.

Our latest additions are: Learn to Count, Best Counting Book, Great Big Schoolhouse, and Rudolf Von Flugel’s Busy Day, bringing our collection to 24 books. If you can pick only one, go with Cars and Trucks and Things that Go for sheer lots-of-stuff-to-look-at fun, not just regular vehicles, but also hot dog cars, egg trucks and bananamobiles.

Cover of the book: No More Water in the Tub!

3. No More Water in the Tub by Tedd Arnold. In this picture book, the kids overfill their bath tub, the door busts open, and they go surfing through their apartment complex on a tidal way. Their neighbors get carried along one-by-one in this very light-hearted story. My daughter loves the zaniness and as a storyteller it’s an easy tale to ham up.

Also see: No Jumping on the Bed by Tedd Arnold where the bed falls through the floor, collecting neighbors floor-by-floor as everyone tumbles to the basement.

The cover of the book The Moon Seems to Change.

4. The Moon Seems to Change by Franklyn M. Brankey. This picture book does a great job of explaining the phases of the moon. Included is a walkthrough for using a flashlight and a ball to understand how the moon’s appearance changes each day. I’ve done something similar with a desktop globe to explain how the sun is always rising and setting somewhere in the world at every moment.

The cover of the book Flat Stanley.

5. Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. This is a sort of famous short chapter book that has become a series. Stanley is flattened when his bulletin board falls on him, and he realizes the fun that flatness provides. He’s flown like a kite, mailed to exotic places, and so forth. The original book sparked the Flat Stanley Project in schools across the US where kids mail naked Stanleys to distant lands and ask people to draw clothing on him.

I also picked up Stanley, Flat Again!, Stanley’s Christmas Adventure and Stanley’s Wordwide Adventures #1 and so far my daughter is enjoying them all.

The cover of the book The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane.

6. The Magic School Bus series. This is a title for 4- or 5-year-olds at the earliest. Ms. Frizzle takes her class on field trips in a bus with magic powers. Science principles are taught along the way. The books are based upon a PBS cartoon I’ve never seen, so I was surprised at how much science information is packed into these schizophrenic stories.

Six of the Isaac Asimov astronomy books displayed on a table in my home.

7. Isaac Asimov’s Library of the Universe (28 books). Holy cow! This 1990 series is written by one of the giants in science fiction writing. This will be a great browsing primer as my daughter and I use a telescope this summer (oh yes, a fifth birthday present to be sure).

The series has typical titles about the sun and the planets that may be outdated on small points such as how many moons orbit a planet. But there are some great unusual titles too, such as Space Garbage, The Asteroids, Ancient Astronomy, The Space Spotter’s Guide and Mythology and the Universe.

So, umm… I’m not sure where my book hoarding will end, but now at yard sales I’m snatching up beloved books we already own… so we can use them as party favors at my daughter’s birthday party. Goodbye useless plastic trinket goodie bags!


12 Responses to “Shotgun Book Reviews: Bragging from a Helpless Hoarding Dad”

  1. Kelly says:

    I saw Cars and Trucks and Things that Go at a garage sale last year (in only decent shape, usually I hold out for very good condition) and I HAD to get it! I remember it so well from my childhood! :-) My kids have been enjoying it too. :-)
    Don’t forget to look for Goldbug!!! :-)
    (btw, do you know if there are any other Scarry “look for goldbug” books? We have some other Richard Scarry books but I’ve never seen another one with that theme through it.)

    May 11th, 2009 at 10:24 am

  2. Tiffany says:

    My 3 year old son LOVES Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go- so much detail to look at on each page- and all with wheels! But seriously, I’ve always been a voracious reader and read about 10 times faster than most people I know- and when I was growing up my parents NEVER said no to buying a book. Toys, yes. Ice cream, yes. But I could ALWAYS ask for a book and get it. And so our son now has his own ton of books, and growing. Although not quite as many as you yet!

    May 11th, 2009 at 12:06 pm

  3. nrbp says:

    We attended a birthday party recently that was also a book exchange–no presents, no goodie-bags–everyone brought a wrapped book and had the opportunity to trade it in for one someone else had brought. There was a little bit of book envy, but the hosts had provided a few extras and everyone went home happy.

    May 11th, 2009 at 2:59 pm

  4. Ticia says:

    Actually it’s the other way around. The book series has been wildly popular and like most of the PBS cartoon shows is based off the book series. There are a whole series of very science filled adventures in paperback as well as a few chapter book titles that are very popular in the Magic School Bus series.

    May 12th, 2009 at 6:14 am

  5. Sara says:

    We also LOVE Richard Scarry, and have several. Another great gem is Busy Busy World, with stories from countries all over the world. Love them all!

    May 12th, 2009 at 6:51 pm

  6. noreen says:

    my daughter is doing the flat stanley project right now. We are waiting for him to be returned

    May 13th, 2009 at 2:19 pm

  7. Janelle says:

    Looks like you made out pretty well! A fun treasure hunt.

    May 13th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

  8. Nancy says:

    My 5 yo son brought a Magic School Bus home from library day recently and absolutely loved it. That one was Inside the Earth and we learned all about the different types of rocks among other things. He requested I get Inside the Human Body (or something like that) from the public library and loved that one too.

    Great books for science-minded kids.

    May 14th, 2009 at 10:01 am

  9. Ari says:

    AJ, I love your blog and now I can give you noe more reason why..

    You just mentioned the BEST BOOK EVER!!
    “Cars and Trucks and Things that Go”

    YES!!! This is my absolute total favorite.
    Hmm. now i’m going to be on the search for the Richard Scarry activities book that I used to have as a kid (I don’t even know what it was called but it had cutouts and coloring pages with the Lowly Little Worm!)

    May 17th, 2009 at 7:25 am

  10. Ari says:

    Thingamamababy dad…. i blame you! i am now going to have to buy this book for our six month old. “Richard Scarry’s Best Rainy Day Book Ever”

    hm. they used ‘best EVAR’ before urbandictionary even existed, lol.

    May 17th, 2009 at 7:30 am

  11. AJ says:

    Ahh, I was going to give you the title. I’m almost afraid to use the book because you destroy the pages to use them. I want to scan the whole thing so I can print ‘em again later (albeit a little smaller on 8×11 instead of 9×11. There’s an entire diorama for cutting, coloring, folding and taping your own mini Busy Town.

    May 17th, 2009 at 8:30 am

  12. Ari says:

    Daddy AJ!! OMG!
    Yes, I DISTINCTLY REMEMBER the diorama cutout thingy!!

    In my conservative youth, i, did NOT cut out the pages!! i seriously didn’t because I thought ‘oh that would be a waste’…. i’m going to give this book with a pair of scissors to my little boy and make SURE he cuts it up! lol!

    I remember there being a big front and back page of the pig character, complete with swirly tail..
    (and yes, i think i might have to get TWO copies, just in case it goes out of print!!)

    May 18th, 2009 at 11:52 pm

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