Thursday, October 6, 2011


What Time Is It? T. Izawa 1968
Where to begin - I love these books! I remember checking these out at the library when I was a kid and they stuck with me - they are so unique and magical because of that.  I recently rediscovered them and as a result of a lot of research I can pass some information on to you.  Tadasu Izawa & Shigemi Hiikata created Puppet Storybooks and other publications which consist of 3D still landscape and doll puppet photographic illustrations.  Beginning in the early 1960s by Kihachiro Kawamoto of Shiba Productions with T. Izawa, these storybooks took off! In the 70s T. Izawa broke off from Shiba to create these books with S. Hijikata.  Some books are accredited solely to T. Izawa.

Others began producing similar books - RoseArt Studios books are distinctly visually different from the Shiba and Izawa/ Hijikata books (see the Snow White cover photo below.)  The first thing I asked myself as I was researching these books was whether or not the 60s stop-motion animation films (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964, Santa Claus is Coming To Town 1970, Mad Monster Party 1967, Jack Frost 1979, etc.) had been produced by those involved in the creation of the books.  The time period is the same so I wondered which came first.  The visuals for both the films and the books were created by Japanese artists; but it does not look like Shiba Productions, Izawa or Hijikata were involved in the making of these films.  The animation in these films were headed by Tadahito Mochinago, Kizo Nagashima and Takeo Nakamura, among many others.

The Puppet Storybooks themselves include on the covers hologram cards attached on top of a base illustration.  Through the years most of these holograms have been ripped off by their child owners.  Needless to say the value of these books go up if the holograms are still affixed to the covers.

What Time Is It?, Baby Animals, My First Book, Snow White and more are all available in my Etsy shop (the titles here as well as the book titles in all of my posts connect to that book's listing in my Etsy shop.)

>Refernces: The Trash Collector, The Book Safari, Modern Kiddo, Midnight Eye, Vintage Kid's Books My Kid Loves, Crafty McGee, IMDB

Monday, October 3, 2011


Christina Katerina & The Box 
by Patricia Lee Gauch & Doris Burn (ill.) 1971
Christina Katerina & The Box is such a unique and amazing book!  It illustrates the importance of imagination and creativity in children. Christina Katerina takes a cardboard box and exhausts its entertainment capacity using household supplies and  her imagination.

Societal Impact & Significance: I do not have to go on very long about how life for children has changed since this book was published in 1971.  We all know modern technology has confined children indoors and in front of machines.  Today's children have less resistance to pathogens based solely on their lack of contact with dirt.  Looking back on books like this, hopefully we can make it our mission to encourage outdoor play and less machine-based indoor play in our children.

The book itself is the first book of a 5 book series, it is out-of-print and it is in excellent condition.  The only drawback would be that I found a Weekly Reader Book Club Edition.

Slightly Off-Topic Buying Tip: Book Club Editions What to do - you are faced with a Weekly Reader or other Book Club Edition of a certain title that intrigues you.  Some elitists will say not to pick it up, to reject it altogether.  I say no.  Being an elitists in my own right (for example, I am a snobby knitwear designer and refuse to use acrylic yarns), I understand this sentiment.  But I do not believe you should reject an amazing and inspiring book just because it is was produced for a book club - you may never find it again.

Back to Christina Katerina; although this particular copy is a Weekly Reader, the fact that it is out-of-print and in excellent condition almost cancels out this fault.  Here is a complete list of the Christina Katerina series:

  • Christina Katerina & The Box
  • Christina Katerina & The First Annual Grand Ballet
  • Christina Katerina and the Time She Quit the Family
  • Christina Katerina and the Great Bear Train
  • Christina Katerina and Fats and the Neighborhood War
My copy of Christina Katerina and the Box was purchased in my Etsy store by a very deserving and appreciative customer recently.  She sent me some photos of the book's new home:

>References: Mid-Continent Public Library, Wizzley, Vanderlinden Clan

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Lazy Tommy Pumpkinhead 
William Pene Du Bois 1966
 One of the first books I found - going on instinct only - was this one, Lazy Tommy Pumpkinhead.  Knowing far less about buying vintage children's books than I do now, I had the "feeling" about it.  First of all, the illustrations are so unique and inventive; and the cover just captivated me on sight.

Slightly Off-Topic Buying Tip: Budget Working with a small budget, sometimes you have to be picky and reject some books. But just like shopping for clothes or anything else you are passionate about, some things tug at you after you leave them behind. I have found (knock on wood) that 9 times out of ten the book you left behind will still be there a week later.  So don't beat yourself up and make yourself rush back the next day; I do actually believe in fate - if it was meant to be, it will be there for you.

So, back to Lazy Tommy Pumpkinhead... it turned out that this book is quite valuable.  Not only is the author/ illustrator William Pene Du Bois, the son of the famous painter and art critic Guy Pene Du Bois, but also it is part of a rare series that he never finished.  The series was based on the seven deadly sins, this book being #1 and he made only 4.  Why does this make a book even more valuable? Why it is because publishing companies who had a craving to bring these books back into print, decided not to because they could not package the series into a nice complete boxed set - hence, they have been out-of-print since.  Aside from this, I picked up a hard cover which happened to be the first printing of the original publication year (if you have questions on how to read the confusing numbers inside books, refer to my link to the right under "Book Research Links") - and despite the fact that it is an ex-library copy and book club edition, it's cache greatly outweighs these faults.

Slightly Off-Topic Buying Tip: Weird My motto after some experience is "weird = good".  The weirder the better people! Maybe I just have the touch; I do pride myself on living by instinct and following my heart (and my avant-garde tastes help guide this motto.)  I just want to urge people to look for the unusual - you will thank me later!

Here is a complete list of the incomplete seven deadly sins series by William Pene Du Bois:

  • Lazy Tommy Pumpkinhead 1966
  • Pretty Pretty Peggy Moffit 1968
  • Porko Von Popbutton 1969
  • Call Me Bandicoot 1970

>Reference: Peter D. Sieruta @ Collecting Children's Books