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Corduroy Paperback – September 30, 1976
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Corduroy has donated more than three million dollars to a charity helping children with severe illnesses, disabilities, or traumas.
Corduroy hosted Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign, which raised more than $1.5 million for early education programs. Two million children and adults read the book on the same day.
Corduroy was one of the first books inducted into the Indies Choice Book Awards Picture Book Hall of Fame.
The New York Public Library named Corduroy one of the 100 Great Children's Books from the Last 100 Years.
The National Education Association named Corduroy one of the Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.
School Library Journal named Corduroy one of the Top 100 Picture Books for the 21st Century.
Corduroy’s creator, Don Freeman, received the Kerlan Award in recognition of his singular attainments in the creation of children's literature.
Close to 20 million copies of the Corduroy books have sold in the United States and around the world.
About the Author
Don Freeman was born in San Diego, California, in 1908. At an early age, he received a trumpet as a gift from his father. He practiced obsessively and eventually joined a California dance band. After graduating from high school, he ventured to New York City to study art under the tutelage of Joan Sloan and Harry Wickey at the Art Students' League. He managed to support himself throughout his schooling by playing his trumpet evenings, in nightclubs and at weddings.
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.
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I read through it at my local bookstore recently (only took me ten minutes!), intrigued by the gigantic size. The story contains some simple art in the style of curious George, but nothing about it justifies the absurdly huge size.
If you're gonna buy it, buy it as a gift for a friend. That way, figuring out how and where to store it is their problem.
A little Teddy Bear is languishing on the toy shelf of an upscale department story. One day a little girl and her mother pass by and the little girl tells her mother that this is the very bear she has always wanted. Her mother tells her no, that she has too much already and besides, he doesn't look new. He's lost the button to one of his shoulder straps."
The little bear thinks about this and that night, he goes in search throughout the story in search for a button. He makes pretty good headway until the night watchman finds him and returns him to his shelf.
Of course there is a happy ending to this story. The little girl goes home, opens up her piggy bank and returns the next day, buys the bear, brings him home and they, the little girl and the bear, become best friends.
Simply put, this is a very sweat story. The little bear must overcome great physical odds traveling through the store and must be able to face his fears.
Now as I said in my opening, this little work is remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, you must note the date it was first published; 1968. Our country was torn with racial strife and feelings during those fearful days were running high. Our nation was at a turning point; a painful period in our history for many. The author and artist of this book, Don Freeman did a rather brave and bold thing. He drew the little girl and her mother and gave them black skin! This does not sound like all that much in this day and age, but I can assure you that this was quite a big deal the year the author and publisher did this. Not only that, but the little girl and her mother are portrayed as typical middle class to upper middle class Americans! This was quite a departure. There was not typical ethnic stereotyping here which was the norm of that time. Never one word in the text makes any reference to race what-so-ever; Freeman simply made his star human characters black.
I can remember when this book came out. I can remember at least one local library and one local school district in the part of the country we lived, who refused to place this book on their shelves! This was the same year of course, 1968, that Capt. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise and Deck Officer, Lt. Uhura really jarred some little worlds when they performed the first interracial kiss on national T.V. I can remember that many stations in the area we lived refused to run that episode; Plato's Stepchild. Thank goodness times were changing, and it was books like this that did their little part.
I personally am a big fan of Don Freeman. Not only do I admire his many children's books, but he happens to be one of my favorite artists of that era. His sketches of street life in New York and behind the scenes during Broadway productions are some of the best work (in my opinion) ever done; so gritty, yet so compassionate and passionate, all at the same time. Alas, his "adult" art is becoming forgotten now for the most part, which is our loss.
Anyway, this is a great children's book. The story is charming and sweet and the art work, while a bit dated, is beautifully executed. I recommend this one for any child's library.
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!