My Secret Affair…
Yes, it’s true. I’ve been having a secret affair with a man called Roger. It started shortly after my son was born 3 years ago and my husband doesn’t know about it … yet. I got caught up with this guy when I bought a book called The Happy Lion for my son (A Babyccino favourite as Courtney wrote about here). He illustrated the book written by his wife Louise Fatio. We both (my son and I) immediately fell in love with the story and accompanying pictures and wanted to learn more about this French Lion. So we set about buying some more of the stories in the Happy Lion series. But we could only get ‘The Happy Lion Roars‘ direct from Amazon — all the others seemed out of print and only available through the Amazon Market Place. Over the last couple of years we have gradually bought them up when they have been for sale at a sensible price. We fell so much in love with this Lion that we grew to want more from his creators.
Ms. Fatio also wrote about a delightful penguin and his lady-love: Hector and Christina (but you have to keep your eyes peeled on e-bay or Amazon to find copies of them, which is definitely worth doing). But Mr. Duvoisin (Roger when you know him like I do) has a library to start collecting — he illustrated a number of books written by Alvin Tresselt including White Snow, Bright Snow and Hide and Seek Fog (which are still in print) and The Beaver Pond (which you can usually find a pretty cheap second-hand copy of). But I love the books he has both written and illustrated: The Petunia Goose stories, the Veronica Hippopotomus stories (and the stories where those two meet, as in Veronica on Petunia’s Farm — a hippo and a goose — brilliant!). His writing has an old-fashioned tone but I’m a sucker for his illustrations.
He is really worth looking out for in second-hand bookstores and you can often find a real bargain. At the time of going to press one of my favourite titles; ‘Mr and Mrs Button’s Wonderful Watchdogs’ was on Amazon for £0.01 (+ £2.75 postage) – a whole lot of story fun for under £3! I love that the books have been owned and loved by children from generations gone by –you can see their scribbles and the much-thumbed pages and imagine that children then and now are similar in many ways. I also like seeing the contrast of these old books in my children’s room next to all their new shiny toys and books. It’s nice to see that to them, at such a young age, there’s no difference.
My Duvoisin recommendations (other than the aforementioned) are The House of Four Seasons (a book about colours), The Crocodile in the Tree, Donkey Donkey and Petunia’s Christmas.
I set myself some rules when buying second-hand books on e-bay or Amazon (so as not to go too overboard). They are:
1. Have a limit of what you’re prepared to spend — mine is usually £10. If the title costs more, wait it out. My experience says that one week it could cost you over £50 and the next under £10 (I bought Petunia’s Christmas for a couple of pounds back in July last year but nearer Christmas it was reaching over £100!).
2. Decide what condition you are prepared to accept — often online marketplaces have condition categories (like new, very good, good, acceptable etc). I don’t mind scribbles and worn edges but want a good binding so that it doesn’t fall apart when a child reads it (that is usually classed as good or above — even though I always read the description of acceptable as one person’s good is another’s acceptable). If you want a like new standard for old books you are going to have to pay for it.
3. When you find an author or illustrator that you like then search for their other titles, they rarely disappoint.
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We love Roger Duvoisin at our house too…excited to read some of these other titles…Thanks!
Great book picks! I also love second-hand books…there is just something charming about the shabbiness of the cover jackets and the whimsy of the illustrations.
I’ve seen your ‘Roger’ collection at your house and it is so beautiful. Makes me want to collect them all too!
Cute books! I’ve just discovered a most wonderful online bookshop that rivals Amazon in price and ethics.
I just checked and they have loads of new and used books by “Roger” as Mo refers to him and Louise Fatio. And you’ll be supporting this amazing business that helps fund literacy initiatives worldwide, ships carbon neutral, and shipping is only $3.97 worldwide (free for lucky US residents). That’s pretty good especially once you realise how much shipping costs with Amazon orders. I live in Australia so I get stung with shipping!
I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered this and had to share with your readers.
Good tip Olivia – thank you. Actually quite a lot of my purchases through Amazon have come through Better World Books but great to browse their site directly. Even though a bit dangerous – I’ve just ordered another couple of books!