A small town (Itching Down) is infested by wasps, to the point that folks can’t deal. The townspeople have a meeting, where it’s decided that they will build an enormous, field-sized jam sandwich, to trap all the wasps. Watching them do this, page after page… I can still feel the child excitement. They turn a swimming pool into a mixing bowl. They turn the town’s biggest building into a giant brick oven. The pictures are bright but also detailed and subtle. If your kid loves books, it’s a minor crime not to read him/her this one.
Shaggy Fur Face by Virgil Franklin Partch
A dog has a good master–and mistress, a little girl–but they’re poor, and they can’t keep him. They sell him, for the cost of “ditch-digging britches,” to another man, who seems nice at first, but turns out to be a tyrant. That’s when you get the story: of Shaggy Fur Face’s escape from the new mean master, and his return to the old nice family (who are doing better financially, thank you). The line I’ve had in my head for 35 years now, that sustains me sometimes, is, “And he kept paddling south. And he kept paddling south.”
Billy’s Balloon Ride by R. Zimnik
A boy is sick. His friends and relatives keep bringing him balloons, which his mother ties to his bed. Finally one night, there are so many balloons, he floats off into the sky. Great, gently suspenseful storytelling. Strange, haunting, somehow German-looking illustrations. The boy has a chubby red face and glasses. I’ll never forget him. Haven’t seen this book since my own actual childhood but could, if I knew how to draw, recreate it page for page.
Lamont the Lonely Monster by Dean Walley and Don Page
Lamont is sad. He has no friends. He’s too freaky looking. And so he searches for buddies. But in a twist that turns on its head the whole crap Nick, Jr. narrative of “Just act nice and normal, and you’ll be popular and happy!!”, Lamont’s soulmate turns out to be… an even scarier monster! Who’s named, in a delightful Dickens nod, Uriah the Heap. Read your kids this book, and then when they’re a little older, read them David Copperfield. Great way to teach them what “allusion” means.
The Giant Jam Sandwich is a favorite in our house. The others look awesome! I’ll track them down.These books posts you guys do are the best. : )
These all look wonderful! I bet the library might have them…I will definitely check.
yes – always love your book suggestions! we have the giant jam sandwich – which I found used and we LOVE it!! it was a book from my childhood that I can almost recite by heart!
Giant Jam Sandwich was my favorite book ever as a kid. You’re right, it’s a crime that I’m not reading it to my kids yet. Will order it asap! Thanks for the reminder.
FANTASTIC!!!!! Going to order the Jam Sandwich book ASAP.
ok, i’m sold. buying pulphead now. that axl rose story is amazing.
The Giant Jam Sandwich was in strong rotation a few weeks ago in my house, and we all love it, despite the fact that EVERY time I read it, my son asks “but how do three escape?” Will be searching out the others at the library!
You simply have the best blog going – so heartfelt. Thanks – you make me smile on many a day!
I had a lift-the-flap book of Lamont the Lonely Monster book as a young child–and it’s one of those I still loved to flip through from time to time in high school, college, and on…Now it lives in the room reserved for grandchildren at my parents’ house. Always loved how scared and sad Lamont looked–and then how happy with Uriah! Good rec–and now excuse me while I go stop by my mother’s for a quick flip…
The Giant Jam Sandwich! I’m so glad to see this book on your list. It still survives at my parents’ house, where I think we first got it as part of a monthly book club or something back in the 70s when I was a kid. I’ve never seen it anywhere else until now. It has a little of the feeling of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and I still get a delicious little shiver when I see that photo of the wasps being stuck in the jam and then trapped by the bread–just the mix of yucky food and slightly creepy bugs that kids love 🙂
Maria–totally agree with you about the Cloudy with a Chance (which i read for the first time a week ago) comparison to Giant Jam Sammy (which I know by heart and own in both paperback and baby board book). Only I thought Cloudy with a Chance paled a little bit. In any case, the best names are in GJS–Mayor Muddlenut, Lord Swell, Bap the Baker…kinda makes me wonder if they were inspired, a la Uriah the Heap, by Dickens.
I loved Sullivan’s Disney piece in the NYTimes and will now have to read all of these. Thanks for highlighting his work and his book picks — these look fantastic.
“Upon This Rock” was beautiful. I’d read the Disney piece before and actually re-read the entire thing. So insightful and honest.