Believe it or not, 44 complete read-aloud classics and future classics—from Goodnight Moon to Stellaluna—are packed in this remarkably svelte, positively historic anthology. Flipping through the 308 pages of The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury is like browsing a photo album of beloved friends and family. The familiar faces of Curious George and Ferdinand the Bull peer earnestly from the pages, and scenes from Madeline and Millions of Cats resonate as if you just experienced them yesterday. Think of the advantages of carrying this book on a vacation instead of a suitcase of single titles! (Your kids can always revisit their dog-eared hardcovers when they get home.)
This impressive collection of concept books, wordless books, picture books, and read-aloud stories was artfully compiled by longtime children's book editor and publisher Janet Schulman. Stories are coded red, blue, and green to designate age groupings from baby/toddler books such as Whose Mouse Are You?, through preschool books such as Where the Wild Things Are, to longer stories for ages 5 and older such as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The reason the book isn't bigger than Babar is because many of the illustrations from each story were reduced or removed to fit the anthology's format. (Leo Lionni's Swimmy, for example, takes up 5 pages total, compared to its original 29 pages.) Brief biographical notes that are surprisingly quirky shine a little light on the 62 authors and illustrators, and an index helps, too, for the child who likes one story best. We love the idea of being within easy reach of a Star-Belly Sneetch, a William Steig donkey, and a Sendak monster at all times, and we're sure your little bookworms will, too. (Click to see a sample spread from The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury, compilation copyright © 1998 by Janet Schulman, illustrations © renewed 1997 by William Steig.) (All ages) —Karin Snelson
PreSchool-Grade 4-Forty-four selections fill this shiny, heavy compendium, gathered to encourage parents to develop the reading-aloud habit. Most are well-known picture books, but there is a short story by Joan Aiken, a chapter from Winnie the Pooh, and stories from books in beginning-to-read series. Goodnight Moon, a small set of Helen Oxenbury's board books, a Berenstain Bears entry, and other short pieces for the very youngest children are mixed with Stellaluna, The Stinky Cheese Man, Madeline, and older and newer favorites quite disparate in size and design. Some appear in spacious spreads, similar to their original formats. Others are compressed with great chunks of text and few pictures or several pages of the original full-length version stacked on a single page, diminishing details, colors, or the delicious moments of humor, drama, or innuendo. Gone are most of the illustrations for Millions of Cats, and Richard Egielski's Tub People have lost their unique patina and pose in these minuscule renderings. Though much is lost in the translation, the treasury does indeed offer an eclectic variety of good stories, and many children might encounter new favorites here. Concluding biographical notes on the authors and illustrators, a listing of the stories by three age categories, an index, and acknowledgments of original publication details complete the package.
Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.