Thursday, October 24, 2013

Blue Marble Books

This past Saturday my wife and I took our two year old son and eleven month old daughter to Blue Marble Books in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. I have very fond memories of my mother taking my sister and I to Blue Marble when we were kids so I was excited to share the same experience with my kids. I also couldn’t wait for my son to see one of Blue Marble’s main attractions: a room made to look exactly like the room in Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon.

I have to admit I was worried that the book store wouldn’t live up to my childhood memories but I’m happy to report it was even greater than I remembered. The minute we walked in the door my son’s eyes lit up, he yelled, “BOOKS!”, and sprinted to the first rack of books he saw. Before we started browsing the books I asked the owner, Peter Moore, to direct us to the Goodnight Moon room. Mr. Moore was kind enough to run upstairs and move some furniture (earlier in the day there was a book signing in the Goodnight Moon room) to get the room ready. My son loved it! We sat and read Goodnight Moon while he ran around the room pointing out all the objects. “Daddy! Mush!”. We also played one of our favorite games: finding the mouse that moves around the room (today he was sitting on the fire place).

After we finished Goodnight Moon we headed back downstairs. Both kids immediately keyed in on this:

My son loves trains and his little sister loves whatever he is playing with so they immediately set to work shunting trucks and hauling freight with Thomas and his friends.

Meanwhile my wife and I started looking around, reliving our childhoods. There was an entire section devoted to Eric Carle, and when I saw this Brown Bear Brown Bear puzzle I knew my son (and his Daddy) had to have it.

I turned, immediately found an entire side of a spinning rack devoted to books about trains, and started sorting through to find the perfect train storyWhich ended up being Patricia Hubbell's Trains: Steaming! Pulling! Huffing! mainly because it has a caboose with a moose. Nothing beats a moose in a caboose in my son's eyes. . On the other side of the store my wife was mowing through the Berenstain Bears section. We picked up The Birds, The Bees, and the Berenstain Bears just in case we decide to have Baby #3 and also added The Messy Room, which was somehow missing from the set of Berenstain Bears books from my childhood we have. This version of The Messy Room was new and improved! It had stickers! I was immediately filled with a jealous rage. Messy Room stickers would have been the bomb digity.

Next, my wife and I hit the Halloween section, trying to add to our existing Halloween books. We settled on I’m the Scariest Thing in the Castle a tale of a vampire bat who might not be as scary as he thinks he is and You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie which is supposed to be a sweet tale comparing children to standard fall food fare, but contains creepy lines like “You are so delicious – The star of any feast”.

At this point my wife decided to try and find some books for our daughter that had strong female characters. She said she wanted a book where our daughter could be the hero instead of a damsel in distress. Mr. Moore overheard and said, “I have just the book” and handed us The Paper Bag Princess, a story of a Princess whose castle is burned down by a dragon who also abducts her prince. The Princess outsmarts the dragon and saves the Prince, only to be chastised for her lack of fashion (as the dragon had burned up all her clothes). The Princess then proceeds to lay the smackdown on Prince Ronald: “Your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum”When I read this part to my son he turns, points to me, and says "Daddy - Bum!" Not cool son. Not cool. and instead of marrying him she skips off happily into the sunset. Well done Mr. Moore. We also added Michelle Sinclair Colman’s Not that Tutu – the story of a girl who refuses to take off her favorite piece of clothing.

Finally, since my son is really into space and astronauts right now, I asked Mr. Moore if he had any books about space. He led me to an entire shelf filled with space books. After flipping through them I came across Brian Floca’s Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11. My son absolutely loves watching Saturn V rocket launches on youtubeWe've watched this video approximately 10,000 times. and this book does a great job illustrating the entire Apollo 11 mission. The countdown sequence is particularly well done and my son’s face just brims with excitement as the countdown starts and you can just feel his anticipation to see the rocket liftoff on the next page. This book is not only perfectly illustrated but also historically accurate. Everything the Apollo 11 astronauts did and said is there. The book covers how Armstrong had to search and search for an appropriate landing site and almost ran out of fuel. It describes all the stages of the Saturn V as well as both the Columbia and the Eagle. I can’t wait to find more non-fiction children’s books like this oneAdult Apollo 11 fans should give Craig Nelson's Rocket Men a try.. I bet Mr. Moore has a recommendation.

When it came time to checkout and we had to leave Blue Marble (and its awesome train table) my son started to melt down. Once again Mr. Moore came to the rescue. Before you could blink he had calmed my son down with some stickers and we were on our way, our wallets lighter but our memories fuller.

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