Given that I am in a particularly nostalgic frame of mind these days ( for instance this recent post-link ), what better way to indulge this emotion than to do a round-up of some of my favorite picture books that in their own ways evoke this wistfulness….
Here are a few gems:
The Little House (public library)
By Virginia Lee Burton
This book published in 1942 tells the story of a little house in a rural area, that was pledged to never be sold and to be preserved and passed down to the generations coming thereafter.
The years pass, seasons change, the landscape of the surrounding countryside undergoes modernization, eventually transforming into a bustling city whilst the little house retains its old-worldliness, seemingly lost amidst the towering buildings surrounding it. Forlorn it remains, until the day that it is discovered by its rightful descendant and is then restored to its former glory.
I am drawn to this book because it evokes in me memories of holidays spent in our ancestral home in a small town in India, of that home being a rooted place in my recollection of an otherwise nomadic life and of the aching loss I feel, now that the house has met its fate in the inevitable urbanization of that area.
A heartwarming story relevant to today’s changing world, and detailed illustrations make ‘The Little House’ an engaging read.
The Relatives Came (public library)
Story by Cynthia Rylant , Illustrated by Stephen Gammell
A family visit over the summer- lots of hugs passed around, big families, simple pastimes, communal eating, makeshift beds on the living room floor, kids playing with cardboard boxes……all delightfully illustrated with colored pencils.
And finally, an end to the summer and time for the relatives to return to their home. The house suddenly seems large and empty but the hearts are assuredly comforted at the thought of the following summer when the relatives would come again.
This charming book harkens back fond memories of childhood visits and of a simple time wistfully gone.
The Paperboy (public library)
Story and Paintings by Dav Pilkey
The story begins with the early morning delivery of a stack of newspapers to the house of the little paperboy; and meanders languidly around his routine of waking up, fixing himself breakfast, folding up the newspapers for delivery and setting out on his paper route. Accompanied by his lovable dog, the little paperboy bikes on, delivering the papers on a route he seems to know by heart, enjoying his solitude and contemplation. The changing hues of the morning sky and the gradual rousing of life in the neighborhood are beautifully captured by the illustrations in acrylics.
A simple story about a time that has passed and a once ubiquitous routine that has faded away.
The Hello, Goodbye Window (public library)
By Norton Juster and Chris Raschka
A story told in the voice of a little girl who gets dropped off at Nanna and Poppy’s home when her parents are at work; and a world viewed through the lens of a child’s eye and mind and literally through a window at the front of the house. A window of hellos and goodbyes, and observations of the charming details of everyday life.
The most remarkable thing about this book are the illustrations which seem to be drawn as if in the hand of a child, the fuzzy details and scribbles highlighting the things which seem most remarkable from the child’s point of view.
A lovable account of a day in the life of a little girl.
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (public library)
By Simms Taback
An overcoat that is refashioned and recycled into many forms, adopting many new lives, put to a great many uses, ending up as something far removed from its original entity. I love the twist/ moral at the end, which exhibits the crux of all creativity.
Beautiful artwork done using watercolor, Gouache, pencil, ink and collage injects vividness into a universal story.
This book reminds me of my childhood when every old thing in the house found a new use and hardly anything was thrown away. The sheet music to a song at the end – ‘I had a little overcoat’ (Hob Ich Mir a Mantl) is a wonderful bonus.
These were a select few of my family’s favorites- books that I have enjoyed reading myself as much as reading them to my kids. What are some of your fond memories/ nostalgic books?