Culture

Children's Books

Culture | February brings Valentine's Day, President's Day, Black History Month, and the winter blues, and books good for those occasions. Here are five.

Issue: "Illegal siblings project," Feb. 2, 2002
1
Love Is
Wendy Anderson Halperin
CONTENT
An illustrated adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13.

GIST
In a style reminiscent of Anno or Peter Spiers, Halperin fills each double-page spread with images that contrast love with absence of love. Young children will delight in discovering details like the house that slowly decays page by page when there is no love, and parents will find the book a springboard for discussion.

2
I Love You Like Crazy Cakes
Rose A. Lewis
CONTENT
The story of one Chinese baby girl's adoption by her American mother.

GIST
"Once upon a time in China there was a baby girl," so the story of one adoption begins. The author captures the wonder of adoption: "How did this happen? How did someone make this perfect match a world away?" Delicate watercolors by Jane Dyer tell the simple story of a mother's love for her new daughter. Only problem is that there's no dad in the story, but creative readers can add him in.

3
Don't Know Much About the Presidents
Kenneth C. Davis
CONTENT
Another book of presidential trivia intended to pique a child's interest in history.

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GIST
Kenneth Davis redirects his "Don't Know Much About" series to children and answers sometimes serious, sometimes silly questions about the presidents. A timeline runs along the bottom of each page detailing important happenings during each president's administration.

4
The Other Side
Jacqueline Woodson
CONTENT
Two girls, one black and one white, take a tentative step toward friendship.

GIST
A white picket fence separates two families and two cultures. Beautiful watercolors depict the girls' longing for friendship, their curiosity about each other, and the baby steps they take to breach the divide. Finally they end up sitting on the fence, side by side, and making conversation across it: "'Someday somebody's going to come along and knock this old fence down,' Annie said. And I nodded, 'Yeah,' I said. 'Someday.'"

5
Treasury of Best-loved Golden Books
Garth Williams
CONTENT
A compilation of familiar stories illustrated by the incomparable Garth Williams.

GIST
The illustrator of the Little House books and Charlotte's Web also illustrated many Little Golden books featuring stories by Margaret Wise Brown and others. This collection gathers these stories, including The Three Little Kittens, The Three Bears, and The Three Little Pigs into an oversized volume brimming over with Williams's playful illustrations.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Publishers Weekly recently updated, for the first time in five years, its list of bestselling children's books of the past century. To make the hardback list a book had to sell more than 750,000 copies, and to make the paperback list more than 1,000,000, between the date of publication and the end of the year 2000. The top 10 hardcover books:
  • The Poky Little Puppy (14,898,431)
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit (9,380,274)
  • Tootle (8,560,277)
  • Green Eggs and Ham (8,143, 088)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (7,913,765)
  • Pat the Bunny (7,562,710)
  • Saggy, Baggy Elephant (7,476,395)
  • Scuffy the Tugboat (7,366,073)
  • The Cat in the Hat (7,220,982)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (6,335,585)
The top 10 paperbacks:
  • Charlotte's Web (9,899,696)
  • The Outsiders (9,695,159)
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (7,131,648)
  • Love You Forever (6,970,000)
  • Where the Red Fern Grows (6,754,308)
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins (6,636,267)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (6,631,807)
  • Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret (6,478,427)
  • Shane (6,397,270)
  • The Indian in the Cupboard (6,394,587)

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