What’s The Eight-Year-Old reading this week?


1-15-16Our mostly-weekly survey of the tidbits that cross The Eight-Year-Old’s desk. This week, The Eight-Year-Old spends a little more time with one of the younger Mommyo’s favorite authors. 

A sampling of this week’s books:

The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess

Although this post shows the cover of the readily accessible Dover reprint of this children’s literature classic, that’s not actually the version The Eight-Year-Old is reading. I generally love the Dover reprints. Most of our Burgess books are from the Dover collection. But in the case of The Burgess Bird Book for Children and The Burgess Animal Book for Children, it’s worth trying to find a copy from the 1940s and 1950s. Part of the magic of these two Burgess books is seeing Louis Agassiz Fuertes’ illustrations of the birds and animals featured in the story in full color. The illustrations in the Dover reprints are in black and white. It keeps the cost down, certainly, but it’s not the same.

Illustration of a beaver from The Burgess Animal Book for Children. (Art: Louis Agassiz Fuertes, 1920.)

Illustration of a beaver from The Burgess Animal Book for Children. (Art: Louis Agassiz Fuertes, 1920.)

So while we have the Dover reprints for books like The Adventures of Happy Jack and Old Mother West Wind, I really wanted the Eight-Year-Old to read his longer nature books in an older version with color photographs.

I had my copy of The Burgess Bird Book for Children from my childhood library already, and this past summer, The Eight-Year-Old and I stumbled across a 1950 edition of The Burgess Animal Book for Children in an antique store in upstate New York. The cover is falling apart, but it has all of those glossy full-color photograph pages.

(Antique stores are one of my favorite places to shop for books for The Eight-Year-Old, btw. Every once in a while you can find a surprisingly good selection of now out-of-print children’s classics for $1 or $2, or if you’re feeling especially profligate, as I clearly was in this case, $8. But then, I’d been looking for this book for a very long time.)

The Eight-Year-Old tells me that the Animal book isn’t quite as engrossing as the Bird book was. But The Burgess Animal Book for Children can’t be all that bad, because she pulled it out again this week to read for at least the fifth time.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

If you’ve read The One and Only Ivan, you know that Katherine Applegate doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to emotions. Her stories are richly imagined, lyrical, and authentically sad. A bit too sad for The Eight-Year-Old, it turns out. Which may be why after reading Crenshaw this week, she retreated to the sunnier climates of The Burgess Animal Book for Children. After watching Jackson and his 7-foot-tall imaginary cat friend Crenshaw navigate the brutal realities of growing up in poverty, The Eight-Year-Old probably felt the need for a little reassurance.

In the news:

No Two Alike: The First Photos of Snowflakes (National Geographic) 

(Photo: Wilson Bentley, 1923. Courtesy of National Geographic.)

(Photo: Wilson Bentley, 1923. Courtesy of National Geographic.)

In 1923, Wilson Bentley published a series of photographs of snowflakes in National Geographic magazine. The magazine dug up those vintage photographs recently and posted them online for all to see. Enjoy!

When a Dinner Party Was Held in an Iguanodon (Mental Floss)

On December 31, 1853, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins rang in the New Year by inviting 21 people to eat an eight-course dinner inside the mold he used to construct the model Iguanodon on display at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham. The dinner party was a publicity stunt, of course, designed to draw attention to the series of dinosaur models he had created for the palace grounds with the help of paleontologist Richard Owen. The Eight-Year-Old and I were already familiar with the story from reading Barbara Kerley’s fascinating picture book The Dinosaurs of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, but it was fun to see it mentioned on Mental Floss. Clearly, the publicity stunt was a success. People are still writing about this party more than 160 years later.  

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About Shala Howell

Writer of things ranging from optical network switching white papers to genetic testing patient education materials to historical fiction set in an 1880s asylum. When I’m not scratching my head over pesky characters who refuse to do things how I want them done or dreaming of my next book (which will of course be much easier to write than the current one), my writerly self can be found blogging about life with a very curious Nine-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, or musing about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.wordpress.com.
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