I'll show you my latest junk/antique/thrift find: it's a 1965 elementary school reader (revised from the 1957 edition) called Billy's Friends by Alta McIntire and Wilhelmina Hill, and it is just lovely. It appears to be for first or second grade children and it's written in that completely bald, almost hypnotic language that's been the hallmark of grade school readers for ages. These books usually have loads of simple statements about nouns, virtually devoid of any detail, atmosphere, or emotion, which makes it very difficult to make these books seem appealing to anyone. Of course, all these books have to be written that way because the kids are just learning how to read, for God's sake, so don't be expecting any finely crafted sentences and fancy stuff. The title of this post, for example, is one of the more complex sentences you can read in this book. Here's the cover, by the way:
Billy's Friends would be no exception in the bland world of school readers if it weren't for the fact that it's so strangely appealing and pleasing to behold. Is it because of all those friendly, full color illustrations on every page? Well, yeah, that has a lot to do with it. The illustrators (Dagmar Wilson and George Okamoto) keep serving up page after page of beautiful pictures full of innocently happy classrooms, birthday parties, town streets, living rooms, and front lawns in a nice flat-color style similar to that of my Little Golden Book brothers and sisters (Mary Blair/Alice & Martin Provenson/ J.P. Miller). Plus, the kickass "My Picture Dictionary" that is a part of each section is really the main appeal for me. This really is hilarious- it's just a page of random things, like this:
"Scraps". Really....that is just so brilliant. Scraps, people, pants, coffee, mailman, fish food, paper bag, dad, flowerpot, neighbors, eggs, it just goes on and on. Isn't that wonderful?! I love it!
Well...actually, I can just feel people reading this and rolling their eyes, muttering "Yeah, that's really fun, Amy". I dunno, I just like naming things. Maybe that's why I enjoy a good field guide so much.