In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Dear Annie,

Do I sell sticker books?  Yes, by the hundreds.  So much so that I can recognize the particular DK Ultimate Sticker Book that's pasted all over Isabel in your hilarious picture.  Sticker books come under the broad umbrella of activity books: stickers, coloring books, paper dolls, mazes, dot-to-dots, hidden pictures, etc.  I have a particular tour of the store I offer people who are looking for travel activities: I ask the children's ages, then we visit various activity book racks, miniature versions of games, audio books, racks of small plastic objects (people, animals, cars...).  Activity books, as I've mentioned, are where I try to contain the junky stuff: Barbie, Disney princesses, TV spinoffs.

I wanted to add two kinds of sticker books to your list.  There are the paper doll books.  They usually have a punch-out paper doll and lots of reusable sticker clothing to put on the doll.  Illustrated on the left is an Usborne book that's a little less over-the-top than the Princess/Wedding/Fairy ones -- but they've got those too.  Usborne, a British publisher of many different kinds of activity books, also does some good, non-product-driven sticker books.  The farm sticker book is on the right; they have concept ones (numbers, letters, etc.), and lots of vehicles.

I want to put in a good word for coloring books.   There are those who avoid them at all costs, feeling they have nothing to do with the creativity of doing art.  I agree, standard color-between-the-lines books aren't art, but they are a form of more meditative activity that can be engaging on a trip or a quiet afternoon.  Good for fine-motor practice too.

And these days there are also several lines of coloring books which are basically prompts to finish and color drawings.  Taro Gomi, a wonderful Japanese illustrator, has done many along these lines:

Lots more on Gomi's books -- many of which are very large and thick, but fun -- and downloadable pages here.

Yesterday the mother of a ten year-old came in looking for 
Rosie Flo coloring books
.  They're British, but most are published in the U.S.  The books provide clothing and the child provides the people within them.  These seem to hold interest of kids of many ages.  Sometimes the pictures are whimsical clothing lined up on a page, and other times you get a scene:

Lots to do.



1 comment:

  1. I have a Taro Gomi coloring book I found for free (someone was giving it away and left it in our laundry room for whomever wanted it) that I've been saving to give my 6yo for Chanukah. I'm curious to see what she thinks. She loves art but art kits don't hold her attention and she only gets into coloring books occasionally. She prefers to dream up her own "projects" which usually involve a lot of cutting and a lot of tape. So we'll see.