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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

In praise of sticker books

Dear Aunt Debbie,

Our weekend away (and without internet access, hence without blogging) was lovely: the wedding of good friends, and two nights away from our normal life.  I thought about children's books, of course; in fact, I read an excerpt of Home for a Bunny as part of the ceremony.

But what I want to write about tonight are sticker books.  More specifically, sticker books as a great savior on plane rides and long car trips, sticker books as activity and bribe and simple, cheap fun.  They're less messy than drawing with markers while traveling (though we brought those too), don't take up much space, and can occupy Eleanor for a nice long time, and Isabel for at least the minutes it takes for her to take all the stickers out and apply them to her body:

There are all kinds of sticker books, of course, sticker books for every kids' franchise on earth, product tie-ins up the wazoo.  There are the dollar-fifty 6-page sticker books that the girls talk me into buying when we go to the bookstore; those are good for a subway ride, though I find that an inordinate number of them drip glitter.  There are the 8 1/2 by 11 full-size books, some with hundreds upon hundreds of stickers.  I can't claim to be a sticker book expert, but there are two types of books that the girls have particularly liked.

First, there's the Match the Sticker to its Place kind of book.  DK publishes a lot of "Ultimate" sticker books, largely with product tie-ins, and their (now out of print) Disney Animals Ultimate Sticker Book occupied Eleanor for several sittings when she was about 2 1/2.  She would find a sticker, peel it off, then hold it carefully while she turned the pages, trying to find the shadow shape where it fit.  The Disney Animals one had the added benefit of including characters from all kinds of Disney movies, over a period of perhaps 50 years, and sorting them by type of animal: there was a whole page of jungle animals, a page of fish, a page of dogs and cats, etc.  The sorting aspect was very pleasing.  We've tried a few other DK books, never with quite as good results, but still well made overall.

Then there's the Here's a Scene, Paste Some Characters and Things On It kind of sticker book.  On this trip, we brought along this Flower Fairies Sticker Storybook for Eleanor: pages of fairyland scenes on which you can stick extra fairies, flowers, nuts, berries, etc.  The drawings in this one are all from the 1920s, by Cicely Mary Barker, so although the bits of text are dumb ("The picnic turns into a party.  Soon the glade is covered with fairy decorations, and there are Flower Fairies everywhere!"), the stickers themselves are quite nice and old-fashioned.  Eleanor spent about 20 minutes setting up a fairy picnic and giving all the fairies acorn and star hats.

Do sticker books fall under your purview at the book-and-toy store?  Any suggestions for our next big trip?

Love, Annie

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