Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Book Review: Miguel's Mountain

(Recovered from Blogjob, where the tags were Appalachian MountainsBill BinzenBill Binzen’s Berkshires bookblack and white photographs,children playing outdoors,children’s bookchildren’s playgroundpicture book.)

(Amazon doesn't have a decent image of this picture book. This Blogspot has several, almost full-size, if your computer can open them: 
Author: Bill Binzen
Date: 1968
Publisher: Coward McCann
ISBN: none
Length: pages not numbered
Illustrations: black-and-white photos by the author
Quote: “Some of his friends were on the huge pile of dirt. Suddenly Miguel had an idea. He raced up, up, up to the top of the pile. ‘It’s a mountain!’”
Bill Binzen drew lots of slick, clever ad graphics before he was able to pursue his real passions for writing, photography, and arty innovations in those. Some readers thought my review of Little Will the Bugle Boy was a bit harsh (I just have a pet peeve about children's books in which children come to the rescue of whole communities of idiot adults with a solution that an average six-year-old, much less an average adult, could figure out). Well...Binzen could do better, and in this book he did.
Binzen described this story as “almost true.” In real life, he said, the city planners went ahead with their plans to remove the dirt and finish the construction in the city park. In the story, the kids write a letter to the mayor saying that they’d rather keep the pile of dirt than have a standard city park, and the city decides to let them.
Either way, this is a cheerful story with lots of pictures of kids running, riding bikes, climbing, digging, and having fun outdoors. It is warmly recommended to all children and parents who think children need expensive electronic junk to play with.
Black and white photos were, as the Vintagekidsbooks blogger mentions, common in early twentieth-century picture books and not really popular with children...but they didn't destroy the kid appeal of good children's books that contained them, either, and Binzen took very good black and white photos.
Unfortunately Binzen no longer has any use for a dollar, so Miguel's Mountain is not a Fair Trade Book. However, if you buy it here...regular readers know the drill. $5 per copy, $5 per package, $1 per online payment, means you can order this one together with one or more Fair Trade Books (as many as I can jam into the package) for only one $5 shipping charge.
You could even splurge and order Binzen's adult-length photo book: