Thursday, June 9, 2011


We all know that the best part of a gift for most kids is the box. That's the premise of Ted Dewan's book Crispin: The Pig Who Had It All. I picked up the book at the prompting of the 1001 Books Challenge and am so glad I did. This might be my new favorite picture book.

When Crispin receives an empty box for Christmas he's disappointed. After all the amazing technological marvels that he's received (and broken) over the years, the box is nothing. He's particularly sad since the tag had said that "it was the very best thing in the whole wide world". Crispin is so disappointed that he drags the box outside to the trash. That's when two kids come along and ask to play with it. After some prodding Crispin finally lets them play and all together they have a ball playing make believe in the empty box. After the box gets rained on and collapses, Crispin takes his friends inside to play with his old broken toys and the new refrigerator box. He finally learns just how much fun friends (and imagination) can be.

This book had the absolute cutest story from beginning to end. Crispin is spoiled, and portrayed that way. In the beginning he's sitting in front of the TV slurping down ice cream and sugary drinks while his broken toys lay piled on the floor. He's whiny and lazy and destructive. At first when the kids try to play in his box, Crispin is furious. Finally they drag him into the game and from there on we see a completely different kid. The energy in this book was just so much fun. It's imaginative but very true to how some kids can be. Dewan throws in a ton of fun pop references so be on the lookout for Dr. Seuss, tomaguchi pets, Piggles (a new Pringles brand perhaps?), and telly-tubbies.

I loved the story but the artwork is just as much fun as the text. Dewan uses bright colors and fun shapes to make every part of the page exciting. Even Crispin's world before he found his friends is imaginative. But once they start playing the pages just light up. I particularly loved the adorable pig and the art deco house. And I love the games that they create. Wonderful colorful images to go with a sweet story.

I was the kind of kid who played for hours in empty boxes. I can make up a story to suit any occasion and often spent many an hour turning a coffee table into a canoe and a canopy bed into a castle. So this book was perfect for me. I'm reminded that with all my glitzy gizmos and entertainment options, friends and imagination are still the "very best things in the whole wide world."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Challenge

As if I didn't have enough things to take me away from this blog, I've accepted a reading challenge that has taken up the last month and is still nowhere near finished. But this might actually bring me back to the blog. Mostly because this reading challenge is all about some great children's books.
A couple years ago my mother bought me a copy of the 1001 Children's Books That You Must Read Before You Grow Up. I've occasionally gone in to see which books I've read and mark up the pages. A month ago I decided to step up my efforts. I'm going to attempt to read every book in this anthology. I'd only read about 200 so this should be a bit of a challenge. Many of the books are international and might be a bit difficult to find. But a challenge is a challenge, and I've been enjoying trying to satisfy it. I've made five trips to the library in the last month and each trip has included at least a dozen books. I'll post reviews about books I love. I already have a huge stack of my favorites. Simple stories like The Ox-Cart Man. Sweet stories like Crispin: The Pig Who Had It All. Wonderful chapter books like The Naming of Tishkin Silk. I'm going to review my favorites from the list. Stay tuned and I'll keep you posted on my progress. 200 down, 800 to go.

You can also watch my progress at LibraryThing. I'm CatB. It even has a book list that automatically tracks my progress.