Category Archives: books

Misleading Book Cover

Based on this cover, what happens in this book?

a) The child on the left is a ghost or a witch leading the child on the right to a Blair Witch type-cottage.
b) The children are about to be murdered in the “Little Clearing in the Woods”.
c) Both children are ghosts haunting people who live in the “Little Clearing in the Woods”.
d) These Amish children are about to get themselves into modern world trouble.
e) One of the girls on the cover is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother, Caroline Quiner, who once moved to a “Little Clearing in the Woods”.

The correct answer is e), it is a book about Caroline Quiner Ingalls’s childhood. I think the cover looks much more ominous than just your regular old “Little House on the Prairie” spin-off book. The way the one girl is pointing somehow makes me think that something very spooky is about to happen.

The truth is, the book is pretty doom-free, even for a “Little House” book. I think a crop is destroyed by frost, but what else is new?

Did you all even know that there are a whole series of “Little House on the Prairie” spin-off books chronicling the lives of various Laura Ingalls Wilder ancestors? I didn’t until just couple months ago. Most of the books came out after I got out of my “Little House” phase. At one time, I would read any “Little House” I could get my hands on. I’m reliving those days right now and enjoying it very much.

If you liked “Little House” and haven’t read the new series yet, they (and there are multiple added series) are fantastic! I have been reading “The Caroline Years” series by Maria D. Wilkes and I think I might like them even better than the original series. Blasphemous! But seriously, The Caroline Years rock. The lost Laura book and the one about Mary at the school for the blind weren’t nearly as great, but still very entertaining.

If you are concerned about the books not being based in fact, consider this: The Little House books WERE fictional even though they were based on Laura’s life. Fact that will rock your world: Nellie Oleson is a fictional character. Might as well enjoy more Little House based books if you liked them the first time around!

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Giving or Taking?

After reading about Shel Silverstein’s picture on this blog, my friend Dayna directed me to this fabulous video by Second City about “The Giving Tree”.

Merry Christmas! You can thank me for sharing this video with you later.

The video pretty much depicts how I felt about “The Giving Tree” when I read it as an adult. I remember the tree being so selfless when I read this book as a kid. Reading it as an adult, I thought the boy was a jackass and the tree was being abused and raped of its essence. It’s really kind of sick to think about someone allowing the person she loves to literally cut her in half to get what he wants– and being HAPPY he did that to her.

It’s pretty gross. Yet I suppose it’s still about giving and loving and wonderfulness somehow.

I’m having trouble seeing it though.

FYI: I have big blogging plans the week of January 3 for a series of posts about “Sesame Street”. Be sure to check it out!

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Shel Silverstein Follow-Up

Remember when I said Shel Silverstein would be upset if he saw this horrible, creepy picture of himself was on the back of “The Giving Tree”?

I was wrong.

I had no idea when I wrote my first post that my cousin Rachel had a Shel Silverstein connection back when he was still alive. She worked at HarperCollins Children’s Books and handled some of Shel’s stuff. What are the odds? 

Now, here’s the craziest thing I could think of in relation to a creepy author portrait like that: Rachel says that Shel picked out that picture himself!

Rachel says:

I worked at HarperCollins Children’s Books while Shel was still alive, and believe it or not, that photo was on The Giving Tree even then. It actually pretty much sums up his personality. Amazing books, but very elusive, not warm or fuzzy , and if I recall, refused to allow us to send him the cartons of fan mail he received. Is the photo even more scary since he chose it?

According to Rachel, “Shel controlled everything about the publication and reprints of his books– right down to how heavy he required the paper to be.”

It sort of changes the way you think about Shel Silverstein, no? I mean, what kind of person picks a creepy picture like that to represent themselves on the back of their beloved children’s classic?

When you combine this knowledge with the fact that he did a lot of cartooning for “Playboy” in the 1950s and ’60s, suddenly you see Shel Silverstein in a whole new light. Before now, I always envisioned Silverstein as the cuddly, grandfather type with a wicked sense of humor, but apparently this wasn’t so much the case. Mind-boggling, no?

Anyway, food for thought. If nothing else, it’s hilarious to me that anyone would pick that awful picture to represent themselves on the back of a book. Maybe he thought it was funny how scary-looking the picture is? It certainly made ME laugh.

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Poor Photo Choice

Check out the picture of Shel Silverstein on the back of my daughter’s new copy of “The Giving Tree”.

Who on earth decided that this was the best possible picture of Shel Silverstein to put on the back of his classic? I’ve always loved Shel, but I remember him looking a lot more friendly than that on the back of my books. Doesn’t it look like he’s snarling at the camera or something? I’m almost scared to let Lily see the back of the book because Shel looks so freaky.

Why not use this photo, or any number of nice Shel pictures I found on the internet?

I think Shel would be insulted if he knew that first awful picture of him was being used on his book covers. I rather have no picture of Shel at all than the one that’s there. It gives me the creeps just to look at it.

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