Winning Stuff

And I mean "winning" in both its adjective and verb meanings, although I wasn't trying for any kind of Charlie Sheen-related pop culture reference.

We just received a lovely book we won from the wonderful Julia's Bookbag.  (She tells the story of the books and how she received her giveaway copies here.)  The book, Playful Moon, is adorable.  I think I would like to play with the moon all night, too.

 And Tuesday, I went to my favorite local bookstore to buy my reserved copy of The Chaperone  by Laura Moriarty.  This is a book I've eagerly anticipated, as it is a novel about Louise Brooks and the woman who accompanied her to New York as a teenager.  Silent movies are a passion of mine, and Louise is especially cool as she was a Kansas native with many local ties to this area.

After paying for my book and having a bite to eat in the cafe, my oldest bookworm and I wandered to the children's area to look around.  As we browsed the shelves, I heard a voice say my name.  I turned to find an acquaintance who works at the store, telling me how I won a pre-order contest!  I won a second copy of The Chaperone, as well as two more hardcovers by Penguin, The Yard (a Jack the Ripper mystery by another Kansas author) and Rules of Civility (which I checked out from the library earlier this year, and LOVED).

I always say I never win anything, but maybe my luck has turned.  How much is the lottery prize this week?

Back to kids' books.  My favorite library pick this week (and I think the daughters would agree) is Circus Girl  by Jack Sendak, illustrated by his more famous brother, Maurice. The book was first published in 1957, and most recently reprinted in 2002.  The girl of the title is named Flora, and she wonders how the people on the "outside" live.  She finally sneaks out one night to scale a rope between two trees, above the village, in order to observe the townspeople.

The illustrations are enchanting, of course.

You can see more of this lovely book at the HarperCollins website.  I think it needs to find a permanent place in my the girls' picture book collection.

Jack Sendak wrote several books between 1956 and 1971.  He died in 1995.  When Maurice died last month, it was reported that his last book will be a posthumously published illustrated poem called My Brother's Book, written for Jack.  If you listened to his final interview with Terry Gross for "Fresh Air," or the memorial compilation of interviews, you get a sense how much mortality and the passing of loved ones weighed on his mind.

But now, I think I need to check our library for more Jack Sendak books.

Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: Emily/Emilie

Do you have weird pop culture obsessions tied to childhood?  I mean, do you have toys or TV shows or books that you have only vague memories of, but cannot seem to get out of your head?

I am a nostalgic creature.  And having children of my own only makes me worse.

When my oldest kiddo was a baby, I became somewhat obsessed with finding out anything related to the old Nickelodeon show Pinwheel.  If you are not familiar with Pinwheel, it was an hour-long program that would be shown in 4-6 hour blocks, set up in a similar format to Sesame Street.  I think I always preferred Sesame Street, as it was a (much) better show, but Pinwheel had the advantage of airing for several hours each morning.  Besides watching it at home in my preschool days, when cable was very new to our house, I grew up watching it at the babysitter's house during the summer, until it went off the air in the late 1980s.  

Back to the search for Pinwheel.

When I began researching the show on the internet, I was only able to find snippets on YouTube, and short posts on websites and blogs that only partly filled me in.  Finding the theme song was fun, as the song had never left my head.

If you want to see more of the puppets and "Pinwheel House" segments, you only need to type "Pinwheel Nickelodeon" into Google.

My favorite segments were the animated filler.  Most were taken from foreign, mostly European sources, although I know they used to show the old UPA cartoon of Bemelmans's Madeline.  I could go on and on, but when I first started hunting down Pinwheel, it was this video that made me happiest. 

I actually remember singing this song to myself in kindergarten, while painting at an easel after nap time.  
So my next obsession became "What is Emily?"  Where did this adorable cartoon come from?
Well, she has a Wikipedia entry.  And oh!  She is originally French.  

And she's a children's book character!

Over the course of the last few years, I've acquired five Emily books by Domitille de Pressensé, in English.  It seems that in the early '90s, some of the books were published in the US by Checkerboard Press.  There are also some to found published by Kingfisher Books in the UK.  

Emily's House and Emily's Letters: Letters from Emily to James by Domitille de Pressense, translated by Philip Gibbs.  London: Kingfisher Books, Grisewood & Dempsey Ltd, 1989.   Emily Wet the Bed!, Emily and the Snails, and Emily Won't Eat by Domitille de Pressense, translated by Elizabeth Turner.  New York: Checkerboard Pres, 1992.  (This is just the publication information for these editions, of course.)

I love the look of the books.  Emily (or Émilie, in the original French) is adorable, and she has a pet hedgehog - this is reason enough to love her. The first book I bought (mostly through out-of-print sellers on Amazon) was Emily Wets the Bed.  Our little heroine learns that she is not a baby, despite what big brother Stephen tells her, because all children wet the bed at some point.

Another favorite is Emily and the Snails, in which Emily and Stephen "rescue" a family of snails.  

Yes, snails do wind up inside the house - scaling the walls, no less. This weekend, I was scouring the internet for more Emily/Émilie items, when I found this website.  All-new Émilie!  There is even an iTunes app!  And then this little news blurb jumped out at me (thank you Google Translate):
"Emilie 3D in a new series on France 5"
In the same way that everything old becomes new again here, little Émilie has been recreated for a new generation in France.
The only video I could find was this:

Oh, how I wish I understood French!  Or how I wish I could take a trip to Europe, hunting down Émilie stuff I don't really need.   Then I would have to head east to Hungary to find A Kockásfülű nyúl stuff, but that's another post.  (wink, wink)

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