Books, History, Inspiration, Photography, TBT, TBTPictureBooks

The Photograph Keeper


This post is about photographs and a dress and book I recently stumbled across.

The Photographs

My Grandma had to clean out her home of more than 50 years to move into a smaller apartment. There were boxes of photographs in the basement and albums on book shelves and photos on the walls. I had a chance to go through some of those photos with her before she moved. My Grandma told me details about the events and the people in the photos and scribbled names in pencil on the backs for me. What a mix of memories –Great great grandmothers and grandfathers, cousins and friends, birthdays and world wars.

I took a box of the photos home with me.

Then it was my mother in-law’s turn. She took on the task of packing up her childhood home and moving her dad from Buffalo to Florida to live with her. She brought back photographs as well. More life, more memories, more family history, all told through little square and rectangular pieces of paper.

The Dress

The dress was my mother in-law’s first communion dress. She gave the dress to my little girl. My daughter loved the dress. She wore it around the house playing dress up whenever she had the chance. It made me happy her dress up play had a bit of family history woven in.

When we took a trip to visit family in Buffalo I knew I had to take the dress. I carefully packed up the dress in the suitcase. When we arrived I asked my husband if he remembered where his mom’s old childhood house was located. He did and I told him my plans.  My daughter put her dress on and we headed out for the adventure. I didn’t think about the people who lived in the house currently and what they might think. A slight overlook in my plans! I started to think of what I would say as I knocked at the door. Thankfully it was the middle of the day on a weekday. The family and most of the neighbors were gone. My daughter hopped out of the car for our mini photo shoot and I grabbed a few quick shots. I knew these little photos of a dress returned to place would be a sweet gift.




The Book

I came across Girls Standing On Lawns by Maria Kalman and Daniel Handler in Anthropologie. Art by Maria Kalman, words by Daniel Handler and old photographs of girls on lawns. -I fell in love.

I immediately thought of the photos of my daughter standing in her grandmother’s dress on the lawn in Buffalo. I wondered about those photos my mother in-law had brought back from her childhood home…


photo 1

” One morning we found some photographs.

One morning these girls stood on lawns.

We  looked at the pictures, and we got to work.”

I think this is possibly my favorite compilation from the book-

“My whole life I have not known where to put my hands.”

photo 2

photo 3

This seems like a brilliant solution to me. I think I would very much like to be photographed in exactly the same way.


I spent this past week at my mother in-law’s house. I asked my her about her old photos. I wondered if there were any of her in the dress on the lawn. I went through boxes full of photos. She asked if I wanted them. Of course! She said I was the only one who would be interested in those old photos.

I didn’t find one of her in the dress on the lawn, but I did find other photos. Here are a few of my favorites of my beautiful mother in-law, a girl standing on the lawn.

photo 2

photo 1

photo 5


I have a few old family photographs in frames. I think I would like to arrange the rest of my collection and put them together in a book from Blurb to pass down to my kids. I think this way they would be more easily viewed and enjoyed and not just stashed away in box somewhere.

What do you do with all of your old family photographs?



Books, Children's Books, History, Picture Books, TBT, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop

I Can Read



Little Chick’s Story


by Mary DeBall Kwitz

illustrated by Cyndy Szekeres

Published by Harper & Row


I was drawn to Little Chick’s Story by the simple soft blue and brown color palette. I love the pencil lines of Cyndy Szekeres through the wash of pale colors and how in places she uses no color at all, only the pencil. It’s beautiful how well the simplicity of the two colors work in Little Chick’s Story.

photo 2

My favorite part of the story itself is that this is An Early I CAN READ Book, but Mary DeBall Kwitz still lets children read and learn from the rich detail in her text.

“She laid one egg in the meadow for the ring-tailed raccoon.

And she hid one egg in the violets for the Easter rabbit.”

I love her word choice, especially violets. She could have called them flowers, but she chose to teach children about a specific flower. Maybe there’s meaning in that for the author.

This book made me think of all the I Can Read books my children have checked out and read from the library and the ones we’ve bought and read together at home. It really is incredible to see your child grow and learn to make sense of letters and the sounds they make and then learn to put it all together and read all by themselves.

I wondered about the series of books and when it possibly started. I found out the first I Can Read book published was Little Bear in 1957, by Else Holmelund and illustrated Maurice Sendak.

You can read the history of how the I Can Read series began HERE.


photo 1


What’s your favorite I Can Read book?






Books, Children's Books, History, Picture Books, TBT, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop, Writing

To Think I Found It In Goodwill


My latest thrift store stop has to be one of my favorites. I spent the afternoon with a friend at Goodwill. We looked at pants and shirts and skirts and talked up and down the aisles. I found an amazing Christmas sweater vest with candy canes and sequins. I managed to leave it behind for a happy ugly-sweater-loving person.

I wandered to the back of the store to check out the children’s books. I found two little treasures amidst the stacks.

Can you spot one of them on my bookshelf?


I didn’t even realize it when I first purchased the book, but the spine has no title information. This leads me to other questions about book publishing and earrly cover design–

When did publishers start paying attention to designing book spines? How were books displayed in stores in 1937? Were children’s books designed or displayed differently than other genres? I think this will have to be anothe post for another time.

On to the book and… Dr. Seuss!

And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street

My favorite find for the day! I realized it was an early edition when I read the back cover jacket flap.

Dr. Seuss cover


This author bio in the back is my favorite part of the whole book. Why? Because it tells the tale of the very beginning of the career of a man with a dream to draw and publish children’s books.

cover flap

Dr. Seuss hadn’t become a household name yet. This is the space where Mr. Geisel and The Vanguard Press are selling us Dr. Seuss:

“Dr. Seuss, whose pictures of strange humans and stranger animals have startled and delighted the American public on billboards and car cards, in magazines and books, is not, as has often been rumored, an armless artist who draws with his toes. He is a healthy and sane young man whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel, who grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, was graduated from Dartmouth College in 1925 and decided to become a professor of English Literature…”

He didn’t become a professor after all. It was drawing pictures that had his heart.

“…he had been warned by experts that he could never learn to be an artist. Mr Geisel still believes that these warnings may have been correct, not withstanding Dr. Seuss’s success in drawing pictures, a success so great that it caused him to abandon all thoughts of an academic career.”

It’s hard to pick out my favorite part from Dr. Seuss’s author bio. It all tells a tale. I especially love the last paragraph listing his author credits. Did Mr. Geisel imagine at the time the success in front of him?

“Although Mr. Geisel has written numerous magazine articles, AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET was his first book. His second, THE 500 HATS OF BARTHOLOMEW CUBBINS, has proved as popular as it’s predecessor.”


Here’s a fun audio clip (3 minutes or you can read the story) from NPR when they celebrated the 75th anniversary of And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street in 2012.

I’m so happy to have found this little piece of children’s book history.

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book?


Children's Books, History, Picture Books, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop

Don’t Start!


My Throwback Thursday Picture Book PSA

Don’t Start

There’s a title for you in the midst of New Year’s Resolutions!

I found Don’t Start at thrift store in November and I knew instantly who would be getting this little book for Christmas.


I love the sneak peak back into the not so distant past of vintage children’s books. Sometime it’s a giggle, sometimes a feeling of nostalgia, sometimes wonder, sometimes a feeling of place and time.

There’s a little bit of history tucked into the stories. Sometimes you see just a little glimpse in the illustrations. And sometimes you get a real history lesson from the story and the pictures, such as A Book of Satellites For You or in this case Don’t Start.   

The kids in this book learn about the dangers of smoking -A direct danger for their parents who smoke and an indirect danger to them from, what the book calls, sidestream smoke. My mother-in-law (a nurse) and I laughed at the strange term for what we know of as secondhand smoke. Maybe the first of the terminology from the 80s? I was curious about the history of smoking and the discovered dangers so I did a little research.

Right there at the top of the page on from the American Cancer Society under a section titled Secondhand Smoke is the phrase sidestream smoke.


 “Sidestream smoke – smoke from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar”

 “Since 1964, 34 seperate US Surgeon General’s reposrts have been written to make the public aware of the health issues linked to tobacco and SHS.”

-American Cancer Society

I’m learning something new from the old.

photo 2



Books, History, Inspiration, Picture Books, TBTPictureBooks

For Dreamers Who Dream Big


This post is dedicated to the big dream dreamers–

For the men and women who looked up at the sky, beyond the clouds and beyond the stars, and imagined it was possible to live in the heavens.

This month, December 2013, marked the 15th anniversary of the International Space Station.

Today’s book is perfect for such a celebration.

A Book of Satellites For You by Franklyn M. Branley | Illustrated by Leonard Kessler

Copyright 1958 | A 1962 edition of the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club

A Book of Satellites

The cover on this book is in delicate condition, but what’s on the inside is pretty great.

A Book of Satellites For You shares the launch of the first four satellites to orbit the earth, Sputnik I, Sputnik II, Explorer I, and Vanguard I.

My kids and I love the illustration of the little dog inside the top of Sputnik II. Laika the dog was the first space traveler. Just imagine! She was launched into space on Sputnik II, but died a few days later. Poor puppy.

The launch of Explorer I, January 31, 1958, was the first satellite launched by the U.S.

“We do not know how long Explorer I will stay up. But we expect it to circle the earth for three or four years because it is so far away. The farther a satellite is from the earth, the longer it stays up.”

This is why I find this book truly amazing. A Book of Satellites For You was published in 1958. One year after Sputnik I was launched and the same year the U.S. began to launch their very first satellites. It was all brand new and truly awe-inspiring. What guessing and dreaming!

From the history of Explorer I from NASA:

“Explorer 1 made its final transmission on May 23, 1958. It entered Earth’s atmosphere and burned up on March 31, 1970, after more than 58,000 orbits.”

Amazing! Instead of three or four years, Explorer I stayed in outer space for almost 12 years.

My favorite part of the book is the prediction of men and women in space travel. Isn’t it amazing that this travel was dreamed up and accomplished? Wouldn’t it be grand if we could all travel to space?

“A few years from now satellites will have men inside them. Then satellites will look quite different… Satellites of the future will take off from a space station circling the earth.

Men who live in space stations will put together other satellites… Men will continue to use satellites to study outer space. There are many worlds to be explored.”

Dream of a space station

Illustrations from 1958 on what the space stations may look like.

The International Space Station became a reality 40 years later in 1998. The first crew began living aboard the ISS on November 2, 2000.

Views from the ISS -The images in this video gave me goosebumps.

Our world is a beautiful place.


Keep dreaming big dreams!

Books, Children's Books, History, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop

Washington D.C.

Throwback Thursday ~Picture Books
I love finding old children’s books in thrift stores. It’s great discovering out of print books I’ve never seen before from authors I know (like Maurice Sendak) or books with a bit of history attached. And the artwork, all the illustrations from a time gone by–I love those too! Just incase those who say, ‘print is dead’ are right, I’ve started a small collection of vintage children’s books and I’d love to share them with you here. This is the first post in this series.  

It’s now day 10 of the government shutdown. While we all wait hopefully for good news from Washington, I’ve found something that may cheer you up.

Two treasures from one of my favorite Thrift shops-

The White House: An Historic Guide from the White House Historical Association (1963)


The First Book of the White House by Lois Perry Jones,  Illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher (1965 Franklin Watts, Inc.)

The White House


In the front of this book is a letter typed by Jacqueline Kennedy.

“This guidebook is for all of the people who visit the White House each year.”

She states, “It was planned – at first – for the children… But as research went on and so many little-known facts were gleaned from forgotten papers, it was decided to make it a book that could profit adults and scholars also.”

“On the theory that it never hurts a child to read something that may be above his head, and that books written down for children often do not awaken a dormant curiosity, this guidebook took its present form.

I hope our young visitors will vindicate this theory, find pleasure in the book, and know they were its inspiration.”

It was this letter from Jacqueline Kennedy that piqued my own curiosity in this book about The White House. As a writer of children’s books it’s fascinating to hear the story behind the story, what it is that inspires others to write. I love that her letter was included in the book.

the first book

The second book shares the history of The White House. It lists The White House Families from John Adam to Lyndon Baines Johnson. It’s also full of fun facts about the Presidents and what their daily lives were like while living in The White House.

Just a few of my favorites from the book:

•President Harding was handsome and jovial. He worked only two or three hours a day and loved to play golf and poker with his friends.

•During World War II, Mrs. Roosevelt often invited wounded servicemen in to tea.

•Our country was sixty-five years old before Congress decided that it should pay the salaries of the President’s staff. Then each year $2,500 was set aside for a secretary, $1,200 for a steward, and $900 for a messenger.

•President McKinley had a staff of twenty-seven, and about $44,500 was spent in a year for the White House Office. By then, the President received around 100 letters a day.

•Some White House employees may see the President only infrequently, such as the chief of correspondence, who each day measures how many feet of mail the President gets and sees that all the letters are answered…

I’m fascinated by the chief of correspondence who measured the mail and made sure all the letters were answered. I wonder what the policy on mail is today. Just imagine the change in how we communicate. It’s fun to look back at the history of it all.

What are some of your favorite historical children’s books?