Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Arnold Lobel: Children's Classics

Children's ClassicsBookworm1 and I seem to be at that awkward in-between reading stage where I know he could stand to read above just a "regular picture book level" but he doesn't want to read chapter books because they are "too long." He seems to LIKE the stories that chapter books present to us, but the mere idea of having to sit down day after day and work on the same story is unappealing. I wasn't really sure what to do until I began scouring our bookshelves for award winning titles (with which to participate in the Children's Classics Carnival at 5M4B.) I came across Frog and Toad Together (which won a Newbery Honor award) which I picked up once upon a time. I presented it as a reading option to Bookworm1 and he liked it!

Enter into our world: Arnold Lobel. The length of his stories are absolutely perfect. They require a larger attention span, are divided up into "chapters" (Bookworm1 eyed this suspiciously at first) and have illustrations on each page to help keep your young reader beside you and intrigued in the story. Each of his stories are broken down into sections (i.e., chapters- without numbering them so) and deal with animals. So really, how could you go wrong?

Once I figured out that these books were exactly where we are at in our reading journey (being long enough for a 10-15 minute read but easily finished so as not having to approach the book with doom and sorrow that you have to come back to it again!) I trotted off to Borders and picked up some additional Lobel titles. These are the ones that we have read (and there have been requested re-reads!):

This has, of course, made me curious about Arnold Lobel and so I looked up a few quick facts to better familiarize myself with him and his work.

* He was born in 1933 and died in 1987.

* He grew up in Schenectady, New York (Kate & Leopold anyone?) and lived with his grandparents.

* He was frequently sick as a child and was out of school as a result of that until about 2nd grade. He entertained himself by drawing. One way that he made friends with his fellow classmates when he was back in school was by drawing animal characters.

* He was husband to one wife, Anita Kempler (also a children's book author/illustrator) and they had two children - Adrianne, a girl, and a son named Adam.

* Adrianne married a familiar actor (if you lived in MY family growing up!) named Mark Linn-Baker! (Perfect Strangers, people!!!) Linn-Baker adapted his father-in-law's stories into a musical which was the Tony-nominated Broadway musical, A Year with Frog and Toad. Linn-Baker played Toad.

* Lobel has a grand list of books that he wrote and illustrated himself but he also provided illustartiosn for the likes of Jack Prelutsky, Peggy Parish and Charlotte Zolotow.

* For a long while, beginning readers consisted of short choppy sentences (think Dick & Jane). Dr. Suess began to change that and Lobel quickly followed on Suess's heels, creating a more complex story line for young readers to follow.

* He saw himself as a "daydreamer" rather than an author or illustrator.

"I cannot think of any work that could be more agreeable and fun than making books for children." ~ Arnold Lobel

I'm glad he thought so! His books definitely have become our favorites this month!


Gidget Girl Reading said...

we love arnold lobel!!! :) he is such a classic what's not to love !!

Annette W. said...

Remind old is Bookworm 1? I was thinking 3...

Meghan is picking up on words, but it's still lots of work for her.

Frog and Toad books were a hit with my first graders and I'd like a set myself!

Carrie said...

Annette - 4 this month, actually.

Barbara H. said...

I don't remember that we read a lot of his books, but we did read some. Cool about Mark-Linn Baker marrying Lobel's daughter and creating the musical!

Unknown said...

That's so interesting!!

I remember Frog and Toad from my childhood, and were happy to pass them on to my kids.

I too looooved Perfect Strangers.

Janet said...

I adore Arnold Lobel. I still have my childhood copy of Frog and Toad Together!

Owl at Home has a line about Owl eating pea soup and hot buttered toast. When the girls ask me what's for supper, I frequently gross them out by saying that's what we're having. Ahh, the enrichment literature brings to our lives! :-)

Sky said...

We love Arnold as well! Talk about great one-liners!
"How soon?"
"Quite soon."

morninglight mama said...

Yes, Lobel books are just fabulous!! Thanks for the reminder- we have some F&T books at home, but we should look for more at the library.

Krista said...

I remember those Frog and Toad books now that I see them! So fun!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Oh, I loved Perfect Strangers, too! :-)

For some reason, we've never gotten into Frog and Toad. I'm pretty sure the girls have at least seen all of the Lobel books you've mentioned/pictured here, but they don't seem to love them like I think they should. ;-)

Litterairy said...

We love Frog and Toad books. We all know the reference when someone awakened too early says, "Blah!" Our mouse lover is very fond of Mouse Soup and Mouse Tales as well. (Feet that you can take off when they wear out!) I also recommend A Rose in My Garden and his illustrated edition of The Random House Book of Poetry for Children.

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