Obscure Children’s Books By Celebrated Authors of Adult Fiction

Written by Simon Van BooyIllustrated by Wendy Edelson
Written by Simon Van Booy
Illustrated by Wendy Edelson

Simon Van Booy – a contemporary, award-winning author of adult literature (The Secret Lives of People in Love, Everything Beautiful Began After) – is also the author of the children’s picture book, Pobble’s Way.

Here are some other little-known children’s books by beloved authors of adult literature.

Children’s Books about Yarn, Mittens and other Knitted Things

This winter, grab a knitted blanket, a cup of cocoa, and some of the books featured below, to stay cozy. We’ve crafted a slideshow of twenty children’s picture books from the past 25 years that feature knitting or knitted items.  Please re-post, share, pin, and tweet this slideshow to all your friends, knitters or (k)not.

There’s still a lot more winter to knit Pobble mittens

Thanks to these wonderful people in cyberspace who helped to spread the word about our wintry campaign for knitting mittens like the ones Pobble wears in Pobble’s Way (written by Simon Van Booy, illustrated by Wendy Edelson):

Bev Qualheim – who wrote the original mitten pattern, Michelle Edwards, KRJuchem, Yvonne Jefferson, Basya Karp, Mary Nida Smith, Barb Hatch, and Barbara Gruener.

Long Island Books: Life With Dad

Image from Pobble's Way, written by Simon Van Booy, illustrated by Wendy Edelson.

by Baylis Greene

“They’re having a kid? His life’s over.”

I heard those only half-joking words at a summer barbecue a few years ago. It took me a while before I could complete the thought: “And a new, richer one begins.”

What’s nice about Pobble’s Way (Flashlight Press, $16.95) by Simon Van Booy is that on a winter walk a father’s flights of fancy match his daughter’s, and the two play off each other. To him, a leaf is a butterfly raft. To her, a mushroom is a frog umbrella.

And the exercise in imagination extends to a menagerie of woodland animals who, in a furred and feathered Rashomon effect, take turns deciphering what a dropped pink mitten actually is. The options: cotton candy, a mouse house, a wing warmer, a fish coat, or a carrot carrier.

Mr. Van Booy, originally from Wales but a South Fork resident-slash-visitor ever since he earned an M.F.A. at Southampton College, is the author of a recent debut novel and story collections that range from well-received to prize-winning, and the language here is fresh: The duck comes “strutting over to the Something”; the mouse “parked her plump body” on top of it. Or simply fetching: “Dusk had stilled the creaking trees, the branches wore long sleeves of snow. . . .”

There’s comedy, too. A mitten?

“ ‘Never heard of it,’ Mouse muttered.” Rabbits are accused of engaging in gluttony when it comes to carrots? “ ‘Some do, I suppose,’ Bunny said, looking at her paws.”

Wendy Edelson’s illustrations, in watercolor glaze, capture the woods’ profusion of life. She hails, not surprisingly, from Washington’s Bainbridge Island, where the wildlife is indeed wild and the greenery so green it practically throbs.

She includes charming endpapers showing where each of the animals makes its bed. Which is where they retreat to as the story, set after dinner but before bedtime, comes to hint at the eternal parental struggle to get a child to sleep.

And the moon “pulled her white blanket across the woods.”


My Side of the Car

At last, a kids’ book that explores life in the car. It occupies so much of a parent’s time, energy, and worry — from negotiating harnessed safety seats worthy of the Space Shuttle to the use of rolling motion as sleep inducement, and what do you do when the kid’s asleep and you have to run an errand? — you’d think they’d have proliferated like so many side-impact air bags.

My Side of the Car (Candlewick Press, $16.99), by Kate Feiffer with deft pencil-and-watercolor illustrations by her father, Jules Feiffer, is about a long-delayed trip to the zoo that gets put off yet again by rain. Complication ensues when little Sadie notices that it’s falling on only the driver’s side of the car. Her dad splashes through puddles and can barely see past the wipers, but out Sadie’s window it’s all garden parties and sunflowers.

(The whimsical book, based on an actual argument the two once had in trying to get to a nature preserve on Martha’s Vineyard, is one of a number of projects the cartoonist had lined up for himself when he holed up in a rental off a quiet Southampton street not long ago.)

Is it merely wishful thinking? To investigate, Sadie steps out of the car and into mud up to her pink stockings. On his side, anyway. She relents.

But one good turn deserves another, and they don’t get far before the sunshine crosses the (psychological?) divide, enabling father and daughter to stride happily into the zoo together. At last.



You won’t find a lovelier children’s book than Claire A. Nivola’s Orani (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $16.99). It tells of a family trip she took close to 60 years ago back to the village on Sardinia where her father grew up. (Her father being the artist Costantino Nivola, who kept a house in Springs for many years.)

Like magpies, she and her Sardinian cousins “flew and settled wherever something was happening” in Orani, a small place of stucco and red tile roofs ringed by mountains. The sheer immediacy of life there renders her experiences indelible. “All I needed to learn and feel and know was down there,” she says from a perch overlooking the village.

She eats fruit and figs right off the tree. Women bake bread communally at night to avoid the heat of day; neighbors make the cheese and honey. She walks the streets and through open windows hears plates being cleared. Among the sights are a three-day wedding celebration, a nearby newborn, and, in a second-floor room open to children, a corpse laid out for a funeral, “his face rigid and white and cold with the unspeakable strangeness of death.”

She finds her return home to crowded New York City, with its height and symmetrical layout, equally strange. The book ends with her wondering what different worlds so many people might have come from. It’s a passage with all the feeling, hope, and generosity of a prayer.

Their own Oranis? They should be so lucky.

This East Hampton Star post appeared online on Sept. 29, 2011.

Winter weather + warm mittens = cozy little fingers

Pobble's Way, written by Simon Van Booy, illustrated by Wendy Edelson

Now you can knit cuddly mittens just like the ones Pobble wears (and loses and finds!) in Pobble’s Way. Click here for the knitting pattern.

Note to bloggers (knitting or otherwise): Please help us spread the word about this heart-warming story by award-winning author Simon Van Booy, by posting this announcement on your blog. Send us an email with a link to the post to be entered in our weekly lottery for a free copy of Pobble’s Way. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

NY Author Appearance

Award-winning fiction writer Simon Van Booy reads from his first children´s book, Pobble´s Way, at Canio’s Books, 3 pm this Saturday, Feb. 19. Canio’s is located at 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY.

“…a perfect book for this LONG winter…”

Ms. Eileen of the Richmond Memorial Library in Marlborough, CT recommended Pobble’s Way on her blog, StorytimeRML.

Today’s pick is a picture book called Pobble’s Way by Simon Van Booy. Pobble and her father set out for a walk in the winter woods and play a fun game along the way. Winter mushrooms on a tree must be ‘frog umbrellas’ decides Pobble, and a lost feather becomes a ‘tickle stick!’ Little do they know that when Pobble drops her fluffy pink mitten, the woodland animals play a game of their own. Owl decides the mitten is a ‘wing warmer’ while Duck is sure it is a ‘fish coat.’

Ms. Eileen continues:

You would think the illustrations would include a lot of snowy white, but illustrator Wendy Edelson brings out the most vivid colors in the animals and scenery. This is a perfect book for this LONG winter we are having, and just may inspire you to take a winter walk of your own. Also a great choice for fathers to read and enjoy with their own little Pobbles!


Take a winter walk down Pobble's Way


Sweet Dreams with Pobble

The Midwest Book Review recommends Pobble’s Way as an imaginative and sweet-dream inducing bedtime book:

Beautifully written and tenderly illustrated, “Pobble’s Way” eavesdrops on an imaginative dialogue just before bedtime between a loving father and daughter in a still winter woods setting that has many hidden animal friends. “Pobble’s Way” is a great bedtime story book, especially matched to fathers and daughters. The wise, imaginative comments of the animals about Pobble’s lost pink mitten will linger sleepily in the dreamings of many children.

Read the full review and check out more Midwest Book Review picks here.

Chanukah: A Different Celebration

by Jane Naliboff

Every year, sometime in late November or early December, sometimes crossing over the biggest winter holiday for most Americans, comes Chanukah. Not a major holiday by any means, but one that is associated with gifts, delicious food, and family, if you’re lucky enough to have them near you.

When my husband and I moved to the woods of central Maine with our then 14 month old, income was what we had in mind and there was a good job waiting for my husband amongst the piney woods and lakes. Not having family close by wasn’t an issue, we were strong, independent, and anxious to begin new traditions with our own little family that soon ballooned to five of us. Being on the secular side, we chose to offer culture and holidays that included food and gifts to our girls. Naturally Passover and Chanukah easily became their favorites.

Three small menorahs, three boxes of drippy, colored candles, star of David and dreidel cookies sprinkled with blue sugar, mountains of latkes and sour cream and applesauce, and a pile of blue and silver gifts was a happy time of year. Continue reading “Chanukah: A Different Celebration”

Starting to look for holiday gifts?

The Colorado Parent magazine’s Bookmarkable blog highly recommends Pobble’s Way (Simon Van Booy & Wendy Edelson):

We imagine with Pobble, Daddy, and the forest animals; we believe that something simple is more than it appears; and we know that nature is full of possibilities. I highly recommend this beautifully illustrated and narrated book and think it would make a great holiday gift.

(Read the rest of the Colorado Parent review here)

Winter is about holidays and family and of course gift-giving. But it is also about quit walks together in the snow, the warmth of home, and the light of imagination.  A gift of Pobble’s Way is all of these great winter things wrapped in one.

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