'My gosh, you still have that book?" "I can't believe that book's still around!" "I remember reading that book when I was a child!"
Though tens of thousands of picture books are published each year, very few go through a second or third printing. And only a few make it through numerous printings through the decades to be remembered by a parent or grandparent and receive the kind of nostalgic warmth reflected in those real library customer comments mentioned above.
But the ones that do never fail to receive the love and attention of an adult reader who remembers with joyful bliss that these books were some of their best and most cherished childhood friends.
So gather the kids (or grandkids), pull up your rocker and share some of these old "friends" with the new generation. "Little Blue and Little Yellow" by Leo Lionni (first published in 1959): Lionni came up with the idea for this story when he tore some scraps from a magazine and used them to entertain his grandchildren. Little Blue and Little Yellow are the best of friends, sometimes so much, that they tend to blend. Of course, when they do, they make green. But they can also go back to being Little Blue and Little Yellow. Sometimes, simple is best. "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd (first published in 1947): Zillions of years from now, when the universe is ready to collapse into a black hole and the last grandparent pulls the last picture book from the shelf to read to the last grandchild, it will probably be "Goodnight Moon." In fact, this book may well outlast the universe! Its celebration of bedtime is the very definition of "timeless." "Make Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey (first published in 1941): McCloskey's tale of a mother duck who must find a peaceful place for her offspring is also a visit to an earlier Boston. In present day Boston, you can visit a statue of the ducks in the Public Garden. His illustrations won this title the Caldecott award. "The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes" by Du Bose Heyward, illustrated by Marjorie Flack (first published in 1939): This was a book before its time. The Easter Bunny is set to retire, but first he must find a replacement. The replacement turns out to be not the showiest or fanciest rabbit. Rather, a mother Bunny wins because any one who can manage a home for all her little rabbits knows the necessary logistics to handle a major holiday. "Caps for Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina (first published in 1938): A very plain walk on a very plain day leads to a most frustrating occurrence for a cap peddler. His merchandise is stolen by a group of monkeys. Despite everything he does, the monkeys will not return the caps but merely mimic the peddler's actions. And therein is the solution to his problem. "Millions of Cats" by Wanda Ga'g (first published in 1928): Once upon a time, there was an old man and an old woman. One day the old woman sent the old man to find a cat. He found one and then another. Soon he had hundreds and then thousands. And finally he had millions. But a million cats are just a few too many to take care of. This story received a Newbery Honor in 1939.
Check out these and other great favorite friends at your local library branch today. Go to www.beaufortcountylibrary.org to look through our catalog, and check out the Beaufort County Library System on Facebook at www.facebook.com/beaufortcountylibrary
Let us know what some of your old favorites and best friend books are -- you can join the discussion today.
Scott Strawn is the Youth Services manager at the Hilton Head Branch of the Beaufort County Public Library, at 11 Beach City Road.