Thursday, May 6, 2010

Children's Book Review: The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury

Title:  The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury: Celebrated Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud
Compiled by: Janet Schulman
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Genre: children's
Hardback: 308 pages
ISBN: 0965575187
Publisher's Summary:  

Unparalleled in scope and quality and designed for reading aloud and sharing, this splendid anthology brings together some of the most memorable and beloved children's books of our time. Here are classics such as Madeline and Curious George; contemporary bestsellers such as Guess How Much I Love You andThe Stinky Cheese Man; Caldecott Medal winners such as Make Way for Ducklings and Where the Wild Things Are; and family favorites such as Goodnight MoonThe Sneetches, and Winnie-the-Pooh. The selections range from concept books and wordless books to picture books and short read-aloud stories, and represent the complete array of childhood themes and reading needs: ABCs, number and color books, stories about going to bed and going to school; tales about growing up, siblings, parents, and grandparents; animal stories, fantasies; fables; magical stories; stories about everyday life--and more. Also included are an introduction, capsule biographies of the 62 writers and artists represented in the collection, color-coded running heads indicating age levels, and indexes. As a gift, a keepsake, and a companion in a child's first steps toward a lifelong love of reading, The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury belongs in every family's bookcase.

Overall rating: 10/10
To buy this book:  Powell's | Amazon | The Book Depository | IndieBound
Add this book to your:  Goodreads | Shelfari | LibraryThing Visual Bookshelf

The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury is a fantastic compilation of over forty fun children's books. From William Steig's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble to Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, this book is full of timeless favorites!  We own over half of these forty-four picture books separately, but finding them combined into one very portable edition has been a delight.  Our copy of this book has been hauled along on many car rides and trips to the park, and it is a perfect resource for bedtime stories.

What I Liked:
-     It is great to find such an impressive assortment of excellent books contained within one volume!  From H.A. Rey's Curious George to Janell Cannon's Stellaluna, this book has something for everyone.  It is not a read-once-and-you're-done kind of book but a volume our children have pulled off the shelf year after year as their reading interests have grown and changed.
-     Even if you have stand-alone editions of many of these picture books, this Treasury is a worthwhile investment for it's awesome portability and the exposure to all the stories you may not own.  It is fun to find classic stories like Virginia Lee Burton's Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Wanda Gag's Millions of Cats nestled among more recent favorites like Bill Martin, Jr. & John Archambault's Chicka Chicka, Boom Boom and Kevin Henkes's Owen.
-     Not only are the stories wonderful, but this book is also a great way for children to glimpse a wide variety of illustrative styles.  From the black & white charm of Robert McCloskey's drawings in Make Way for Ducklings to the beautiful stamp art of Leo Lionni's Swimmy and the creative collage work in Ezra Jack Keats's The Snowy Day, this is a great book to show children a huge variety of illustrations.
-     The stories in this book are each labeled with a color-coded symbol to indicate the approximate reading level for which they may be most appropriate, but I love that they are not sorted by reading level because that allows readers to try a bit of everything as they flip through the pages & encourages beginners to give more challenging stories a try by placing them right next to simpler ones.

What I Wished:
-     I really like this book exactly as it is, but it is worth noting that in order to condense 44 books into a single 308 page volume, some of the illustrations have been reduced in size and/or combined into new page layouts.  For example, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are is a forty-eight page book in its original form, but it only takes up thirteen pages of the Treasury because the page layout looks like this.  In my opinion, the illustrations are consistently presented in a way that reflects the text and is true to the original source material, but readers who expect the content to look precisely like each of the original books may be slightly disappointed .  It is important to note that the text of each book is unabridged, with the two exceptions of Roger Duvoisin's Petunia and Peggy Parish's Amelia Bedelia (which are slightly abridged). 
Whether you are looking for a great selection of classic children's picture books, trying to save on shelf space, or looking for an affordable way to add an awesome assortment of bedtime books to your collection, The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury will not disappoint.  I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a wonderful assortment of picture books or Caldecott Medal/Honor books (there are twelve in this Treasury).  I would also recommend it to anyone who is searching for a nice, comprehensive children's book to give as a gift and to anyone who is looking for a fun book to keep their kids entertained on a long car trip.  Since this book actually contains forty-four separate books, I haven't gathered all of the author/illustrator links that I typically like to share within my reviews.  But you can read lots more reviews of this book, find several places to purchase it, and find out if your local library carries it here.  

Candace's Book Blog is hosting a new "Kid's Pick Wednesday" meme (on Thursday this week).  The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury is our "Kid's Pick" this week.  If you are interested in participating, please click here to add your selection to her list of links.  

Happy Reading!  :-)
The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury (Curious George)
 fan art by 6 year old


Candace said...

Thanks for joining in! And I love the fan art! That's a great idea! We may have to do that next week!
This book sounds great! My daughter loves these books full of different stories but then she thinks we need to read ALL of them! I guess I should be happy she'll sit and listen for that long!

Violet said...

I know what you mean, Candace! One story always leads to another... and another... and another! I love that our kids are great readers, but it sure can make bedtime take a few hours. :)

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