This morning I went to the second day of my library's enormous summer book sale. Seasoned book-sale-goers know that second days are tough; the good stuff flies off the tables on the morning of the first day. Actually, seasoned attendees know to volunteer setting up at the book sale, so that they get first dibs on the books before the official sale begins. I've gone that route before.
Anyway, on the second day you have to recalibrate your thinking, and look for hidden gems, namely older books. Okay, old books. In the YA section, I found a misfiled copy of Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book, illustrated by Ben Kutcher (Longmans, Green, 1954). Picking through some 1961 Childcrafts yielded Volume 2: "Storytelling and Other Poems," which features Golden Book-style illustrations on every page by artists like the D'Aulaires, Virginia Lee Burton, Robert McCloskey, and Walt Disney. Then, for only a dollar, I snagged Volume 5: Best Loved Poems from The Children's Hour, a multi-volume literature collection. Not as many illustrations, but still charming, with many classics.* In 1973, Philomena (whoever she is) was given this book as a gift, and it's inscribed with her name. One tip: open up the old books and take a whiff; you'll avoid that cabin-at-the-lake mildew smell that way.
Junior helped his dad, NT, at the cashiers' table (an excellent way to practice math, by the way), and NT reported that on their shift The Lovely Bones and Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons (a Calvin & Hobbes book) were big sellers. A third-grade teacher recommended Sharon Creech's Love That Dog to the father-son team, saying it was a classroom favorite, and one of Junior's library pals slipped him The Eleventh Hour, a picture-book mystery by Graeme Base. Needless to say, we all had a good time.
Another doozy of a sale—the summer extravaganza at the Pequot Library in Southport, Connecticut—begins on Friday, July 25th.
* Update 7.22. After looking at the Children's Hour book more closely, I came across a poem about a "lovely maid" and a "savage chief" and a corresponding illustration that will absolutely need some explaining to a child. Both the poem and the image are stereotypical and racist. That one page is in no way "charming."