Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Child’s Library

This is for a friend who is expecting a long awaited and hard earned baby in a couple of months. She’s a graphic designer too, so I’m sure she will enjoy buying books as much as I did. I was lucky too, to have a daughter that adored books as much as I did. So, I thought I’d get her a starter list. My now 12-year old and I sat down at dinner and recalled books that she and I loved together. Then we went to the shelf and found all the ones that she still had. Ah, good memories.

So, here is the list. My rule was that we had to have read these books at some point. Also, these were all read by age 8. Many of these are too old for babies, but a lot of them were on the shelves by the time she got to kindergarten.

The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf: the first book I bought for Bella, this was one of my very favorite books growing up. The drawings are gorgeous, in pen and ink. The typography is lovely. My mother, I found out years later, read this to me and my sister all the time, because we grew up during the Vietnam War and she thought it had an anti-war message. I didn’t pick up on that until I was in my late 30s. A+

Fish Eyes, Lois Ehlert: Gorgeous little counting book. I showed it to my then 4-month old, who grunted and rubbed the pages upon seeing it. It was destroyed by the time she was 8-months old and I had to buy another copy, which is still on the shelf. All of Lois Elhert’s books are lovely, but this is her best. A

Eating the Alphabet, Waiting for Wings, Planting a Rainbow, Lois Ehlert: All good, all nature-based. I can see why the kid went vegetarian, although we never got into gardening. B

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: eh, I was never crazy about this apparent classic. It didn’t stick around the house very long. It did introduce me to Lois Ehlert. There are better alphabet books. C

Anything by Eric Carle: oh sure, we’ve seen way too much Hungry Caterpillar but that’s because it’s really really good. It’s a shame it’s gotten overcommercialized. We also loved the Grouchy Ladybug and The Mixed-Up Chameleon, as well as the very UUish Draw Me a Star. And Little Cloud is also fun. Mom: B

The Three Pigs, David Wiesner. This is a very silly take on the classic that breaks the story wall. And it’s beautifully illustrated too. A

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, Simms Tabek. My sister bought us this at a library conference and it became a favorite quickly. Clever cutouts and fun illustrations with lots of sneaky things hidden in the margins, along with a great lesson on reuse and repurpose. A

Put Me in the Zoo, Robert Lopshire: I could take or leave this silly little book about an amorphous critter that thinks he should be in the zoo because of all his ability to do tricks. But the kid requested it. And requested it. Mom: B-. Kid: A. (At least when she was 2.)

Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss: Duh. You have to have this one or your kid is culturally deprived. Also, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to read. I was always happy when this one was selected. A+

Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss: Duh again. A+

Fox in Socks, Dr. Seuss: Duh again again. There was a period when my kid was almost 1 when (I kid you not) I would have to read this 5 times a day. I had it memorized at one point. Mom: (when she bought it): A. Mom when she was done: B. Looking back, it’s still an A.

The Lorax, Dr. Seuss: oh sure, a bit heavy handed with the environmental message, but we were OK with that. Depends on what side of the climate change fence you choose, I suppose. In our household, that was obvious. A

Dr. Seuss’ ABCs: “BIG A, little a, what begins with A? Aunt Annie’s Alligator … a, a a.” Mom gives this … an A!

Obviously, we’re big fans of Dr. Seuss and there are plenty of other books. These were our favorites, though. There are some that were published at the end of his life or under his name. Avoid them. They don’t have the same magic.

Snow, Philip.D. Eastman, Roy Mc Kie: no idea why a southern kid who spent her first year in Texas, the next 11 in SC, would adore this book, but this was another one we no longer needed to read. We could just recite it. The kid still has it on her shelf. Mom, however, gives it a B.

Fish Out of Water, Helen Palmer, P. D. Eastman: such a silly story plus it’s so totally set in the 60s. The rotary phone, the firemen, the policeman … it’s that Americana that a part of us all still crave, even if it probably never existed. Fun and light, a favorite. Mom: B.

Pat the Bunny: Dorothy Kundhart: someone will give it to you as a shower gift. To me, it’s very dated and they’re over it by the time they’re 6 months old. And there’s lots of great texture books out there. But the kid mentioned it, so it’s on the list. Just look for other texture books. My kid loved them. But then again, she would also start rubbing our couch when I was trying to burp her at 4:30 in the morning. B-

Olivia, Ian Falconer: the first one was a hoot. The second one was pretty good. Then … she started to become a brat. The kid was too old by then anyway. Still, the drawings are fun and it’s printed on really wonderful paper. I realize this sounds like “she’s got a good personality” but to a designer, that’s a bonus. Best for girls. B

Stinky Cheeseman, Joe Scieszka and Lane Smith: A bizarre book with wacky illustrations. It will make you laugh, to be certain. A nice poke at the some of the hokey old tales. B

Go ahead and buy the entire Roald Dahl catalog. They’re all great. OK, Great Glass Elevator is weird, but the Twits, Matilda, Henry Sugar, Charlie, the Witches, Fantastic Mr. Fox … the dude just put out one after the other. There’s a little bit of meanness in his books, but there’s a little bit of meanness in me too. Plus, it always happens to those that deserve it. A-

Six Dinner Sid, Inga Moore: another one found when the kid was older, but it’s so cute we bought it anyway. Another one still on the shelf. Very cute colored pencil drawings and an awesome little story about a cat with six owners. B+

Olive, Vivian Walsh: another cute, off beat story. The Christmas special is an annual fav in our house. I guess it never caught on because it’s a little different. B+

Mean Soup, Betsy Everett: cute. Drawings haven’t aged well, but the lesson here is almost as much for the mom as the kid. Patience, mom, patience. The kid is still learning to deal with their emotions. It’s up to you to teach them how. B-

Used Up Bear, C. Carmichael: a shower gift from someone who knew this young author. You probably can’t buy it anymore, but I add it anyway. It was a favorite when she was a baby and when she was 13 months old, we found a bear that she simply had to have. I realized later it looked just like the bear in the book. It’s one of the stuffed toys that will never ever go away. B

The liberal UU books I’ll put in one paragraph: Shalom, Salaam, Peace, Howard Bogot; Old Turtle, Douglas Wood; Our Ocean Home, Robert Lyn Nelson: well, to be honest all of these are a little pious. But they’re still worth having. B-

Junie B. Jones, Barbara Park: oh man, my kid could not get enough of these. The Ramona of the modern era. She’s like Lucy in kindergarten. A+

Maurice Sendak: gorgeous drawings. Some of those books are a little out there, like Night Kitchen. And Where the Wild Things Are, well I’ve heard the whole imperialist argument, but I think the kid just wants to have fun and not have people tell him what to do. But the Nutshell Library? So adorable and cute. My husband will still call the kid Pierre when she’s being obstinate. Night Kitchen: B, Wild Things: A, Nutshell Library A

Red Wolf, Margaret Shannon: a MUST HAVE for knitters. I heard this book reviewed on NPR one morning, which they never review children’s books. This is a terrific fairy tale about a princess who is kept under close watch of her father the king and how she manages to break free. Oh, and the illustrations are gorgeous. And did I mention that if you knit, you must own this? A+

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White: duh. A total classic. While you’re at it, pick up Stuart Little. You might as well introduce the kid to the beauty of the books before they see what Hollywood did to them. And they will see them somewhere. A+

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Judi and Ron Barrett: again, such cool drawings and full of imagination. What else do you need? (And again, show them the original drawings before they see the dang movie. Again, it can’t be avoided. Day care, day camp, grandparents …) A

Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat, Jeff Brumbeau and Gail De Marckhen: another completely totally silly hat that we like. Again, best for girls. Still, a chicken for a hat? Absurd! B

Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey: your kid will be totally absorbed by the silliest books on the list. Let ’em revel in it. It’s one that you won’t read together. Your kid doesn’t need to know you think fart jokes are funny too. A-

Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney: again, not one I’ve ever read but boy did my kid love them. So I’ll give them a B.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, William Stieg: actually any Stieg is good, but this one is so sweet and touching, you’ll read it a lot. The value of family comes through. A+

Shel Silverstein: my friend already knows about Shel, so I’ll throw out Runny Babbit and Giraffe and a Half. A

Everyone Poops, Taro Gomi: hey, everyone does poop and the first three years everyone will be fixated on it. And, Taro also designed Doodles, which is a great collection of unusual coloring books. There’s no coloring outside the lines because there are few lines. Lots of creating instead. A

The Watering Hole, Graeme Base: the most beautiful counting book ever written. And, if your kid loves animals, this one is fantastic. A

Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne: oh c’mon! Required reading. Again, read the original before they see what Disney did to it. A

Aesop’s Fables, Helen Ward: Nice to have the collection of the tales in one book but the drawings here are fantastic! Just a stunningly designed book. A+

My Friend Rabbit, Eric Rohmann: another one I heard on a fluke on NPR. Very very few words but tons of cool and silly drawings involving, yes, more animals. Why not. B

When Pigasso Met Mootisse, Nina Laden: a book I picked up at the local art museum. So cute, with Picasso depicted as a pig and Matisse as a cow. A nice way of introducing kids to fine art as well as becoming friends despite ones’ differences. B+

Diary of a Worm, Doreen Cronin: also, Diary of a Spider and the whole Click Clack Moo series. Cute with whimsical drawings and fun stories, but this is our absolute favorite. B+

Strega Nona, Tomie dePaola: cute story. Drawings are definitely 70s to be certain, but a nice little story anyway. B

Ella the Elegant Elephant, Carmela and Steve D’amico: such a sweet story about a young girl starting a new school and having a tough time with it. Again, beautiful sweet drawings and a nice little moral at the end. For girls. I was surprised that my kid brought this one up. I guess it’s close to her name and the whole fitting in struck a chord. A-

And last, two books I bought because I was charmed by them at their presentations at the UCDA conference.

Bad Baby by Ross MacDonald: Ross is a very cool guy and has done amazing things with letterpress. Not only does he do fun illustrations for magazines, he also creates custom movie props, including the book at the center of National Treasure: Book of Secrets. And, he writes some children’s books. This is one of them. B

Bembo’s Zoo by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich: Good luck finding this one! I managed to nab a copy and I’ll just say I was VERY lucky. In fact, I keep it on MY shelf and gave my kid the website instead. Roberto is … incredible. I wish I had just a touch of his talent. A

What did I miss?


Zipping up Lebowski

So excited today, because I got THREE packages. First, my No Meat Athlete shirt, which I plan to wear when I run the Spinx Run Fest. (BTW, looking for a fall half or full marathon? This one is a lot of fun, finishes IN the ballpark.) Second, my Superfeet inserts, which I had to buy another pair because I got tired of switching them from my running shoes to my Jazzercise shoes. The new aerobic shoes from Nike just didn’t have enough arch support for my old feet.


But you are not reading this post because of RUNNING, are you? The thing I was really excited to get was a custom-made zipper! And it’s a beaut. The right color, the right length … even the right zipper closure on that sucker.

The original instructions noted that the zipper should have a ring closure on it to match the one in the movie and she found one in a thrift shop that she cut off the original garment. Well, I’m not feeling that lucky plus I don’t spend a ton of time in thrift stores (takes away from knitting, duh), so I googled “custom zipper and found Zipper Source.

I was game and the site was easy to use, so I gave it a try. I got the simplest email ever letting me know that my order was received. It was … quaint.

The "got it" email

Nine days later, I got this very terse email.

The "it's coming" email

Yeah! I did have expect it to arrive in a plain envelope, but it came in a bona-fide Tyvek envelope with a logo printed on it. And it was perfect. And, even American-made, if you like that sort of thing.

Now to sew the thing on. That might be the hardest part of the whole dang sweater. (And I still have to finish the collar, details, details.)

UCDA: Getting the Leading Out

When I started running, I didn’t realize the support network I would find just within my own professional organization. I was surprised and pleased to get supportive responses to my posts about running from colleagues all around the country that I knew through UCDA.

UCDA has always been a very supportive group. I began my association with this group back in 1998, when I took at job in what was then Publications and Marketing Services (that’s right, PMS) at Clemson University. This organization taught me a lot about being a designer, to the point where I actually served as the President last year. (I still don’t know what they were thinking, putting me in charge. Looks like they survived my tenure.)

So some of my virtual running buddies and I had a virtual conversation and decided it would be fun to create some actual Bondi bands, just for designers. You don’t need to be a runner. You can wear them for yoga or walking or biking or hiking or cleaning the house, if you do that sort of thing. If you’re interested, I’m going to get a batch printed up and I will sell them for $10 each. Any money I make over my costs, I’ll then donate to the UCDA Foundation. The foundation does some cool stuff, from awarding scholarships to UCDA events to funding the printing of some of the books we’ve printed recently.

If you are interested, please email me so I know how much to order. Or, just order through PayPal!


Mousy Lebowski

Finally, I got around to ordering the yarn I needed to finish up that second sleeve. Since the husband was out of town and I had a day off from running, I worked on it during the kid’s Kuk Sool lesson and later that night. Boy did that feel good to get that done!

Can you tell the difference in size?

I really wondered if I should just use the second brown (mushroom) to finish up the pattern, but really, I felt like I really didn’t have enough of that either, so I went ahead and bit the bullet and ordered just one more skein of mouse yarn. Really, the yardage has been way off. I’ll have at least two skeins of the pebble left and nothing of the other colors, had I managed to make it through the dark brown without running out. So, I’ll be looking for other ideas as to what to do with this yarn. I guess if we had a dog, I could make a matching Lebowski sweater. Alas, we only have two cats and neither one appreciates a fine knit sweater.

As you can see, I really didn’t need a lot more yarn. I’ve put the ball of mouse next to a full ball of the white I originally bought and you’ll see that you can’t tell a difference in size. A skein of this stuff has 205 yards. I estimate I used maybe 5, so I have 200 yards left.

Using Mouse to finish up the Mushroom section

My decision to NOT use the mushroom was justified and in fact, I ran out of that with about 10 stitches left to go. So, now that I had 200 yards left of the mouse, I did finish up that last row with it instead of using less than a yard of yet another skein of this yarn. I mean, it’s OK yarn and all, but I’m not that much in love with it!

I spent the morning sewing it up together. Sewing up knitted pieces is not my favorite (if I liked it, I’d just sew), but this went along fairly quickly and I finished up just as my husband got back from exercising. And bonus! I thought I had only started one facing, but when I pulled it out to assemble it, I found not only was that the second facing sitting around on an extra pair of needles, but the first facing was already sewn on. YES!

SO, what is left? Not much! I need to finish up the second facing, sew that on, order the custom zipper so I  can get one with the ring on it and then make the collar. That will be interesting. I really feel the one in the pattern is too small to match the originalin the movie. I mean, that’s just my opinion, man. So I might be experimenting. It’s OK, birthday isn’t for two months. And Lord knows, I’ve got plenty of the pebble to do whatever.

The sweater to date

So far, I give this pattern a B+. Nicely done, even with the differences in yardage. My fault, really. It’s a totally different yarn than what was spec’ed.

Hopefully when it’s done, it’ll tie the outfit together.