Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Little Old Man, by Natalie Norton (ill. Will Huntington) (1959)

It's a real treat to share one of our absolute favorite picture books today: Natalie Norton's A Little Old Man. It's been out of print for almost half a century, but it sure can entertain a couple of 21st century kids. I would say it's one of those rare books where the story is not overshadowed by the illustrations, and vice versa. I highly recommend picking it up for those dirt cheap used prices on Amazon or eBay. This book is one you won't mind reading over and over: it's got just the right amount of text. The subject seems like an odd one for a kid's book, but it is such a lovely story.

The little old man lives alone, but he manages to keep busy.

Maybe I enjoy this book because the old man reminds me of the kindly old farting Quaker who used to run a book store in downtown Kalamazoo? As busy as he keeps, sometimes such a life can still get a bit lonely:

All he wants is a cat! But there's no way a cat could get to his island. One day, there is a terrible storm that blows his house away. . .

But this is a lucky old man, and a boat washes up on the shore of his island. Its occupants are nowhere to be found. Maybe they drowned! Who cares, it's a kid's book!

It's even got a fully-stocked kitchen:

But it turns out the houseboat wasn't totally unoccupied:

The smile on the old man's face on this page always makes my kids howl with joy:

They just don't make children's books about lonely old men marooned on tiny islands who yearn for feline companionship like they used to.


This blog seeks to share excerpted content from out-of-print children's books. If you are the copyright holder of any of these books and are unhappy with this usage, please contact me immediately and I will rectify it.