I make periodic visits to bookstores whenever I can. I usually raid National Bookstore, Fully-Booked, and Powerbooks at Megamall weekdays after work. I go there just to check their Bestsellers list and see if the “Bestsellers” actually have good reviews on Goodreads.
But during Saturdays, there’s one place where you’ll definitely find me: Books for Less. Pre-loved books (sometimes unused, old stocks!) for really low prices. I can spend hours inside the store on a Saturday morning, looking for literary gold mines like classics from L.M. Montgomery, Sylvia Plath, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien (I bought my LOTR compendium at Books For Less for less than 500 pesos!!) and browse through contemporary literature from Jo Nesbo, John Grisham, James Patterson, Robert Ludlum, etc.
But my notable observation about myself is this: I always come out from that bookstore with Children’s books all the time. No fail.
From a curious monkey named George to a young, imaginative boy named Max, down to well-loved fairytale characters illustrated in golden-spined books and a grandpa narrating a story about a food-full town named ChewandSwallow, see my top 12 finds this year from Books For Less.
- Curious George by Margret & H.A. Rey
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
written by German-born American couple Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey, the series feature a curious monkey named George, who was caught in the jungles of Africa and was brought to the city by “The Man with The Yellow Hat.”
As it happens, the start of the story is quite horrific by any twenty-first century adult standards: our simian friend was tricked by a hat-wearing caucasian man, gets illegally transported across oceans to put him in a zoo. George escapes and roams the city. He is then “rescued” to spend the rest of his “happy captivity” exploring the metro.
That’s the simple, pretty straight-forward background about George.
What’s good about this series? Happy, adventurous monkey (in spite of his traumatic history), fast and easy read for ages 4-7, neat illustration, and the books have been adapted into several television series and films so George is quite searchable online.
- Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Publisher: Red Fox, 2000, ISBN 0099408392
Not a lot of people like this book, but me and my kid keep this Sendak classic on our ‘All-Time Favorite Picture Book Shelf’. Story revolves around Max, a young boy wearing a wolf-suit and “makes mischief of one kind and another.” His mother scolds him and calls him a “WILD THING” because of his behavior. She sends him to his room without having dinner. From there, a forest grew in his room and an ocean came rushing by with a boat ready to take him to Where The Wild Things Are.
He is met by Wild Things and…
They roared with their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth, and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws!
To cut the long story short, they became friends and the wild rumpus began!
- Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett
Publisher: Aladdin Books, 1988, ISBN 0689855230
Before the animated movie was the book by Judy and Ron Barrett. Apparently, the movie deviated from the book in sooooo many ways. In the movie, the town was called Swallowfalls. In the book, it was Chewandswallow. There’s no Flint Lockwood, no Steve, no FLDSMDFR, and no Sam Sparks!
There’s no contraption in the book. Chewandswallow just happens to have very unusual weather and climate.
Pretty much a story within a story kind of book: Grandpa cooks pancakes for his daughter and grandchildren. Suddenly, one of the pancakes flew as it was being flipped off the pan and it landed straight to his grandson’s head. That night, grandpa narrated a story about a town where people don’t shop for food but instead just wait for the local weather forecast to tell them what food they’ll be having the next day. The rest of the story rolls from there.
The middle and the ending is totally different from the film. A little sad, if I may say so. But the book’s giant Jell-O is as glorious as the one in the movie!
Publisher: Random House, Inc.
I’m sure a lot of us are familiar with books bearing distinctive golden spines. But for the benefit of the young ones who haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing these books yet, Little Golden Books is a popular series of affordable, well-illustrated, high-quality children’s books with series varying and dealing with nature and science, Bible stories, nursery rhymes, and fairy tales.
Some Little Golden Books have featured popular children’s icons from other media, like Disney, Looney Tunes, Pixar, etc.
- Emperors And Gladiators by Anita Ganeri (ISBN 0-431-05379-0)
- Storming A Castle by Graham White, National Geographic (ISBN 978-0-7922-9640-3)
These are in the list because: secret passages, role-playing, critical thinking, history and spatial reasoning!! As a mom, I find these things truly helpful! It’s a bonus that my son is particularly delighted and interested in mazes and puzzles!
- Illustrated Guide To Greek Myths and Legends by Cheryl Evans and Anne Millard, Illustrations by Rodney Matthews
Publisher: Scholastic, ISBN 0-439-32643-5
Basic intro to Greek literature written in easy-to-read, unintimidating style. Best reference guide when your kids have watched/read Percy Jackson and The Olympians series.
These are so helpful for beginners. You can find level 1-5 books at Books For Less!
- Sleeping Beauty by Mahlon Craft, Illustrations by Kinuko Y. Craft
Publisher: Chronicle Books, ISBN 978-1-58717-120-8
Excellent retelling of the classic folktale. The illustrations are detailed and overwhelmingly enchanting. Kinuko Y. Craft’s talent is truly exhibited on this one.
These illustrations are extraordinarily beautiful. I was so enamored that there were no second thoughts into buying this book! For someone who has read and watched a lot of versions of this fairytale, the illustrations were so refreshing that it felt like I was seeing Aurora/Briar Rose for the first time. Kinuko Craft’s illustrations brought the plot, the magic, and the wonder to life
Publisher: Hachett Partworks LTD.
Pretty much the same with Little Golden Books, except the series is entirely of Disney-produced stories. These books are faithful with its animated films.
- The Princess and The Pea by H.C. Andersen and Eve Tharlet
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-55141-2
This is a really cute storybook! Tharlet’s narrative scenes are portrayed from an almost aerial perspective.
Readers look down at castles, their majestic interiors and the people that inhabit them from a vantage point that reveals the artist’s acute awareness of size and dimension as language for humor. All royal folk look alike, with their stiff upper lips, twisted noses and looks of perpetual surprise. Good for ages 4-8.
- The Golden Treasury of Children’s Literature by Bryna and Louis Untermeyer
Publisher: Golden Books Publishing Company (August 1985)
Interesting story: In 1947, a couple named Bryna and Louis Untermeyer compiled a collection of stories they believed represented the “finest and most enduring” fairytales.
The image below is the actual large, hefty edition containing wonderful, timeless children’s classics such as Cinderella, Snow White and Rose Red, Aladdin, Wizard of Oz, Winnie The Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit and even Mary Poppins!
This collection has the BEST ILLUSTRATIONS too!
The illustrations below are our faves!
I was able to save a lot when I got all these books at Books For Less, Shopwise Commonwealth. They have branches all around the metro. You can check their website: http://www.booksforless.ph/ and their Facebook page here.