Under the Radar: Picture Books

Ursel Scheffler is a German children’s author who, according to Wikipedia in German, lives in Hamburg. I discovered her delightful picture book, A Walk in the Rain, several years ago while looking at books at a local college library with a good children’s collection. It was published in English by Putnam in 1986. Ms. Scheffler has a cute website, but it’s all in German, too. Anyway, as I recall, the book is about a grandfather and a child who go for a walk in the rain. Since I like walks in the rain and the book was beautifully illustrated, I liked the book.

Nothing To Do by Russell Hoban is a book about a father and daughter possum instead of about Frances the badger. But as much as I adore all the Frances books, Nothing To Do may be my favorite Hoban book. I say “may be” only because I can’t get my hands on a copy, and so I haven’t seen the book in twenty years. In the story, Little Charlotte is bored and can’t find anything to do until her father gives her a talisman that will always keep her busy.

Apricot ABC by Miska Miles is a beautiful classic alphabet book, published in 1969 and illustrated by Peter Parnall. Again, this is a case of an author’s having published a much more well known book (Annie and the Old One), but this delectable little book is not as familiar. It should be.

Another old book, lost to our children, is Louis Slobodkin’s One Is Good But Two Are Better. (Semicolon review here.) The simple text tells about all the activities for which it is necessary to have two or more people. The pictures, simple too, show children doing things together. Here’s a picture from the title page of my falling-apart copy:

The King at the Door by Brock Cole tells the story of a king who’s disguised as a beggar. Only one person believes that the ragged old man is really the king and treats him with the proper respect and care. It’s out of print, but worth searching for.

Also, for Christian parents interested in talking to their primary age girls about moral purity, Mrs. Rosey-Posey and the Chocolate Cherry Treat by Robin Gunn is a great book. The reading level is about second or third grade, and the tone is encouraging without being too preachy. We read it at a tea party at church a couple of years ago, and I need to find a copy of my own.

In fact, if anyone has copies of any of the books on this list that they’d be interested in selling or giving away, I’m your potential buyer.

Today’s Recommendations from Under the Radar:

Finding Wonderland: The Curved Saber: The Adventure of Khlit the Cossack by Harold Lamb
Chasing Ray: Dorothy of Oz from Illusive Arts Entertainment (the Dorothy comic you should all be reading!)
Bildungsroman: Christopher Golden’s Body of Evidence series
Interactive Reader: Christopher Golden’s Body of Evidence series as well
Not Your Mother’s Bookclub: An interview with Robert Sharenow, author of My Mother the Cheerleader
lectitans: The Angel of the Opera: Sherlock Meets the Phantom of the Opera by Sam Siciliano
Bookshelves of Doom: The God Beneathe the Sea, Black Jack & Jack Holburn all by Leon Garfield
Writing and Ruminating: An interview with Tony Mitton and a review of his book, Plum
The YA YA YAs: I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Lee Wilson
Chicken Spaghetti: The Illustrator’s Notebook by Mohieddin Ellabad

6 thoughts on “Under the Radar: Picture Books

  1. Have you ever seen the Hobans’ *The Sorely Trying Day*? It deals with an actual human family and is absolutely hilarious.

    We had *Apricot ABC* when I was a child. It was cool, but always seemed a little weird to me.

  2. I remember Apricot ABC, what a funny little book.

    Another WONDERFUL German picture book author and illustrator is Daniela Drescher. She’s not very well known in the US yet (except to the Waldorf parents set). Her illustrations are absolutely breathtaking. I just bought In the Land of Fairies, and hope to accumulate some of her other books (In the Land of Merfolk, In the Land of Elves). I’ll be doing a quick review on her as soon as the book arrives from Amazon.

  3. I love the Slobodkin, Sherry! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  4. You’re going to hate me, Sherry…

    I have both “Nothing To Do” and “The Sorely Trying Day”, both ex-library from the Calgary system. They were my first ever online book purchases when I got this here internets business six or so years ago. I remembered both of the books from my own childhood (and the library), and they came floating by on one of the first Canadian Yahoo groups I joined.

    These are some of the picture books that my kids have needed to be older to appreciate, and my 10yod still curls up with them :). If I ever decide to part with them, you’re first on the list because I know they’d go to a good home.

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