Daily Archives: May 13, 2011

Tiny Things

When tiny ourselves my sister and I were obsessed with tiny things. When living in Germany we used our allowances to buy small plastic animals from a local toy store.  At one point we lived over a pharmacy and discovered that if we asked they would give us miniature versions of products —  bitty boxes, teeny bottles, and perfect wee versions of detergent boxes, and such.  We also collected small stuffed animals, dolls, furniture, and played with all of it as well.

Sensibly, our parents made sure to take us to the real-life tiny Dutch village, Madurodam when on holiday in Holland (where my mother also decided to get us wooden shoes for muddy days — this was in the late 50s and the friends we were visiting like some other Dutch still used them this way — and insisted we use them back in Michigan…but I digress).  At one point I fell madly in love with Rumer Godden’s books, among them Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, and I still have my versions of those two dolls along with their things (a scroll, flowers, and other objects that I made myself) in a matchbox.

My students today are equally captivated by the small — Japanese erasers, writing materials, and other little objects periodically pop up on their desks and begin to collect and accumulate small thing by small thing. And so how lovely to see Imogene Russell Williams’ Guardian piece on the appeal of tiny living things in children’s books.  I’m curious though — much as I loved The Borrowers as a child I don’t see it gaining a lot of young readers today.  Does anyone know of kids who love it?  Or Rumer Godden’s books for that matter?  I hold them too close to my own nostalgic heart to recommend them to kids today as I fear they will be quickly abandoned unfinished.  But perhaps I’m wrong to feel this way?

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Watching the Chimps

Two delightful new picture books biographies of Jane Goodall, Patrick McDonnell’s Me … Jane and Jeanette Winter’s The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life With the Chimps, are reviewed in this Sunday’s New York Times accompanied by a lovely video featuring the two creators, a sample of art from their books, and Ms. Goodall herself.

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