Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Green Machine by Polly Cameron (1969)

Back when I stole/saved an entire picture book section from a Detroit school that was getting scrapped, I posted a picture of some of the books I found there. Every few months, I get an e-mail from someone who scanned the titles and recognized something long out of print that they remembered from childhood, asking me if I'll send it to them. I've sent away a few, but this is the one I get the most requests for, and I realized why: it sells for anywhere between $50 and $180 on Amazon and doesn't come up often on eBay. I think ounce-for-ounce this book is worth way more than if it were solid copper. Take that scrappers!

Unfortunately for those who've e-mailed me, my son LOVES this book and I refuse to part with it. It is possibly his favorite, as his grandfather is an auto body man who works exclusively on antique cars like the green machine and has much more tolerance for his grandson tooting the horns on the cars and playing inside them than he ever had for his son.

The author of this book, Polly Cameron, also wrote the more well-known I Can't Says the Ant. This book is written in a similar rhyming structure and tells the story of an ordinary summer day in a huge garden when it's suddenly invaded by a tiny antique automobile called "the green machine." One of my favorite things about old children's books is that sometimes the best ones don't need to make any sense. This book is basically a bunch of fruits, vegetables, and garden implements commenting on what the green machine is doing, in sentences that rhyme with what they are (?).

The book is illustrated by Consuelo Joerns, who I can't find much about online but has one of those great self-written bios that makes her sound quite fantastic: "She has travelled and painted all over, living in a primitive house on a volcanic lake in Guatemala with a wild ocelot, another time making her studio in the kitchen of a 12th century chateau in France and more recently on the Ile Saint Louis, a 17th century island in the heart if Paris. . ." After The Green Machine, she illustrated about a dozen other children's books.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Brian Wildsmith's 1,2,3's (1965)

This book wasn't nearly as successful as British children's book illustrator Brian Wildsmith's highly-lauded abcedary ABC, which remains in print today. This book was published one year later (1963 in the U.K., 1965 in the U.S.) and is widely available on Amazon or eBay, and I think it was just a little too abstract for the audience he won over with ABC's lovely figurative drawings. 

Still, I kind of love this book. I really like Wildsmith's earnest explanation of why the book is set up the way it is: