I’m always on the hunt for books when I go to charity shops, specially children’s picture books… I simply love them! There are so many out there… so many to be discovered. You may wonder why I wouldn’t simply go to my local bookstore… well, there are a few reasons: 1) books in Australia are very expensive, and despite the strong Australian dollar over the last couple of years, the prices have remained high. Children’s paperback picture books can cost anywhere between $14-$20, and I get them for a $1 or $2 in charity shops; 2) a lot of books in charity shops are like new (probably someone’s unwanted Xmas or Birthday present). In any case, I’m very often surprised at how little some books have been worn out, and therefore, not been read; 3) buying secondhand books is a great way to come across books that are out of print and wouldn’t be available from ordinary bookstores, and it’s also a great way to discover unusual books.
I found some great children’s books this week at one of my local charity shops, all in excellent condition, and several from very well know authors.
Mrs Wobble the Waitress by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg (paperback, 1980)
I loved this book as a child. Mrs Wobble the waitress (and wife and mother of two) wobbles when she serves food, which is a bit of a disaster for her and her family, and their little cafe business, as she spills food all over their customers. But her husband and two children come up with a fun solution to cope with Mrs Wobble’s wobbly ‘handicap’ and she becomes the main attraction in their newly refurbished cafe, with customers travelling from far away just too see Mrs Wobble in action.
Gorilla by Anthony Browne (paperback, 1992 – first published in 1983)
I had never heard of this book before but I picked it up because of it’s incredible illustrations.
With only a few words on each page it’s the carefully crafted illustrations that tell us the story of a young girl called Hannah who spends most of her time alone because her father is either too busy or too tired to spend time with her. Hannah loves gorillas and dreams of going to the zoo one day to see them. Her father gives her a toy gorilla for her birthday…
And you will have to read the book yourself to find out what happens!
Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess (first paperback edition, 2010)
I love Neil Gaiman’s work. He’s an amazing storyteller. I hadn’t heard of Blueberry Girl but bought it because it was a ‘Neil Gaiman’ book. Well, I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a beautiful lullaby, very tastefully illustrated by Charles Vess. Absolutely fantastic!
Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak (paperback, 2002 – first published in 1981)
Maurice Sendak has an incredible imagination. Not sure where he gets his inspiration from… maybe his stories come to him in dream. He’s certainly very unique. Where The Wild Things Are is his most famous picture book. I found this one: Outside Over There. The artwork is beautiful and the story very unusual. I wonder what children make of it…
I Spy: Transport in Art compiled by Lucy Mickelthwait (paperback, 1996)
I think this is a great little book to get children interested in art (and it contains one of my all time favourite paintings, A winter scene with skaters near a castle by Hendrick Avercamp, which prompted me to buy the book).
Hug by Jez Alborough (hardback, 2000)
This was one of my daughter’s favourite books when she was a baby/small toddler, but we only had the small board book version, so when I came across this first hardback cover edition I didn’t hesitate two seconds – the illustrations look even more stunning! I don’t think this book has been read much, if at all – it’s almost like new. And for $3… what a bargain!