I really admire William Steig’s picture books (just short of creating an in-home Steig-shrine!) and enjoy knowing there is much to his work for me yet to discover: with more than 30 books for children and numerous others, AND his cartoons and covers for The New Yorker, Steig was prolific! For each of the 13 days leading up to Steig’s birthday (born November 14, 1907 in Brooklyn, NY), I’ll post a picture book recommendation and tidbits collected while reading up on the picture book maker who did not patronize children, but presented their truths. In the end, you may think I’ve forgotten one of your favorites, but leaving out some of the most celebrated was deliberate: I hope to inspire you to read some you don’t know, as well as beloved ones again!
Publisher: Joanna Cotler Books/Harper Collins, 2003
Themes: William Steig, childhood, Bronx
Opening: In 1916, when I was eight years old, there were almost no electric lights, cars, or telephones – and definitely no TV. Even fire engines were pulled by horses. Kids went to LIBRARIES for books. There were lots of immigrants.
Summary: (from Amazon) This is the story of when I was a boy, almost 100 years ago, when fire engines were pulled by horses, boys did not play with girls, kids went to libraries for books, there was no TV, you could see a movie for a nickel and everybody wore a hat.
I like this book because: Published shortly before his death in 2003, it’s Steig’s return to his own childhood in the Bronx, not much different than that of my father born in Brooklyn 22 yrs later. Like Steig’s family, the Rowan’s were immigrants and moved around a lot. The colors are lively, and the lines are innocent yet sophisticated.
Resources/activities: ask children to interview a grandparent – certainly they would not have been born over 100 years ago, but ask what everyday objects didn’t exist for them as children; a good companion read: MIGRANT by Maxine Trottier and Isabelle Arsenault.
Today’s tidbit: Are you close to the University of Pennsylvania? You can visit the exhibit until December 19th, 2014: “As the Ink Flows: Works from the Pen of William Steig, explores the life and career of the artist, cartoonist, and children’s book author/illustrator William Steig.” More info HERE