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Corduroy & Company Hardcover – September 10, 2001
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About the Author
Gradually, he eased into making a living sketching impressions of Broadway shows for The New York Times and The Herald Tribune. This shift was helped along, in no small part, by a rather heartbreaking incident: he lost his trumpet. One evening, he was so engrossed in sketching people on the subway, he simply forgot it was sitting on the seat beside him. This new career turned out to be a near-perfect fit for Don, though, as he had always loved the theater.
He was introduced to the world of children’s literature when William Saroyan asked him to illustrate several books. Soon after, he began to write and illustrate his own books, a career he settled into comfortably and happily. Through his writing, he was able to create his own theater: "I love the flow of turning the pages, the suspense of what's next. Ideas just come at me and after me. It's all so natural. I work all the time, long into the night, and it's such a pleasure. I don't know when the time ends. I've never been happier in my life!"
Don died in 1978, after a long and successful career. He created many beloved characters in his lifetime, perhaps the most beloved among them a stuffed, overall-wearing bear named Corduroy.
Don Freeman was the author and illustrator of many popular books for children, including Corduroy, A Pocket for Corduroy, and the Caldecott Honor Book Fly High, Fly Low.
Top customer reviews
Well, I foolishly thought I was going to get these 10 fun classic stories in their entirety all in one big book. While the text is not abridged, the illustrations are. Each of the stories is collapsed by several pages. While some pages are as originally designed by Don Freeman, most of the illustrations that used to fill half a page in original editions are, in this collection, reduced (shrunk) down to vignettes amidst a lot of text. If I am not mistaken, some of the illustrations are also missing (as in Fly High, Fly Low)
I feel this is wrong, and I would wager money that Freeman himself would never have approved this shrinking, never let this book go to print in its current format.
These stories are intended to be read to very young children, from, say, age 2 to 6 or 7. The illustrations are so important to kids, and the layout of one large illustration per page or per facing pages is part and parcel of the dynamic of reading aloud to a child.
The child sees the illustration that goes with the text being read to him. That is the correct way to let a children's storybook unfold. This book, with its squashed-together and snrunken-down pictures, doesn't allow the story to unfold with the illustrations.
I mean, would you fast-forward scenes in a movie while listening to dialog and soundtrack in real time? Of course not. So this collection's irritating format reveals in illustrations visible on the pages far too much info, way too far ahead in the plot, for the narrative the child is hearing.
Freeman was a great story teller and, like any excellent graphic novel or cinematic work, suspense and interest was created with the timing of what is seen against what is read. Some of Freeman's most dramatic imagery (cop blows his whistle at the pigeon Sid - a huge image in Freeman's intended version of Fly High Fly Low, or the boy Thayer discovering Beady Bear sitting in a cave) lose all their impact by being reduced to a tiny picture that the child is going to see on the vast crowded page while mom, dad, or babysitter is reading from way back on the part about Sid getting stuck at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge in a fog bank, or the part in Beady Bear about running away with the evening papers. It's ridiculous and the stories lose much impact as a result.
I felt really cheated. I didn't get 11 books in one. I got a crappy version of each one. Shame on Viking / Penguin!
There is an interesting introduction and nice photographs of Don Freeman. Chuggy and the Blue Caboose is a great story about a little snow-plower caboose and his engine friend, Lucy, that save the day. In Pet of the Met we meet Maestro Petrini, a dashing and clever mouse who works as a page-turner for the prompter at the Metropolitan Opera House. The story of Beady Bear is next, followed by everyone's favorite red-headed boy, Mop Top. Fly High Fly Low, a Caldecott Honor Book from 1957 tells the story of two pigeons, Sid and Midge, and their adventures in San Francisco, featuring many of that city's beautiful landmarks. Who can resist the adorable Norman the Doorman, the charming mouse doorman of the majestic Museum of Art who becomes an artist in his own right. Enjoy Dandelion as he gets fancied up for a party and don't forget Tilly Witch, the Queen of Halloween, (sadly, now out of print) but still to be found riding her surf board with a whisk broom for a skeg in this great collection. Flash the Dash, the story of a dachshund who delivers telegrams, rounds out the treasury.
At the back of the book is a biographical article with more photographs of Don Freeman and samples of his drawings for other genres.
I love this book because it collects so many beloved stories in one place. It makes these gems available, preserving them for future generations and is an affordable package that makes it easy for parents to provide these classics for their children. Hopefully, it will encourage folks to seek out the individual story books, too, so they can enjoy the full size illustrations. Don Freeman's characters are so filled with fun and are so lively and expressive, they are not to be missed.