Now that 2014 is here, many people are thinking about those New Year’s resolutions. Some are turning to self-help books (or parodies of them) for advice. For the children’s book lover, Diane Muldrow’s Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book (Golden Books, September 2013) stands out.
Muldrow, editorial director of Golden Books, imparts advice for daily life using a breezy, humorous tone, accompanied by selected illustrations from the Golden Books catalog. The book itself is modeled after the works it celebrates, matching the size and shape of a Little Golden Book, complete with gold foil spine, distinctive endpapers, and bookplate. Spanning three decades, this sampling of advice and illustration features artwork from over fifty Golden Books by dozens of authors and illustrators, with captions on each page helpfully detailing the publication information. Golden Books mainstays Tootle, The Poky Little Puppy, and The Shy Little Kitten make an appearance, and children’s literature greats such as Richard Scarry, Garth Williams, Leonard Weisgard, Margaret Wise Brown, and the Provensens are all given a chance to shine.
Apart from the fun of seeing a highlight reel of Golden’s iconic characters and classic stories, the pleasure of this volume comes from the humorous pairing of images and text. For instance, Muldrow’s warning to “Steer clear of shady characters” is paired with a spread from Vivienne Benstead and Richard Scarry’s Chicken Little, where Foxy Loxy lies in wait — with salt and pepper at hand — as a parade of poultry makes its way down the road. The motto “Work hard. Play hard,” is illustrated with a factory steelworker (from Daddies by Janet Frank; illus. by Tibor Gergely) and domestic animals playing outdoors (from Mister Dog by Margaret Wise Brown; illus. by Garth Williams), respectively. And a warm vignette from Esther and Eloise Wilkin’s Baby Dear in which a mother cradles her infant while another daughter plays with a baby doll is accompanied by the advice to “Let your children know you love them.”
Succeeding as both a nostalgic trip for those who grew up with Golden Books and a whimsical surprise for newcomers, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book has plenty to offer for readers of all ages.