Saturday, December 31, 2011

Vignette: Small Things, Calvin, and Hobbes


     I met a little cockatiel the other day.  I suppose if I lived in Rio that wouldn't sound so strange but here in California where the birds come in the screeching blue varieties and the small brown varieties, we don't get many cockatiels.  This one fluttered into my mother's garden.  My mother, kind heart that she has, immediately ran the cats out of the garden and called for my help.  I captured it carefully under a towel and we put it in two plastic baskets taped together.  Animal services had a lovely droning message machine that listed all the terrible ways you could find an animal in trouble and somewhere in the labryinth of depressing information I found that there were two conveniently located centers in our county and one of them was open.  Shock.
     It was closed.  It was open half an hour before but their staff all take lunch at the same time and had deigned that tidbit of information not worthy enough for their phone extravaganza.  Luckily we were near the small airport where one of my sisters works and we could leave the bird with her, which she promised to take to the center once it had reopened. 
     I thought just for a moment as we were driving home that I should have let the center know that I wanted the cockatiel back if no one came to claim it.  I didn't have any firm ideas about Animal Services and their euthanizing standards for birds and would have felt terrible if I had caught this little flying creature only to have someone kill it.  But, as it turns out, I live in the real world where you don't even have to have animal services do the dirty work.  I phoned the center up after the holiday weekend only to find the bird had died.  The lady on the phone was very specific about her lack of knowledge in the bird department.  Their vet hazarded it may have eaten something it shouldn't have.  So that's it for freedom.  I don't know where we get our tame birds from, but I know now that a cockatiel trying to fly for freedom and stopping on the way to eat a few poisonous plants doesn't have much of a chance. 
     What does this have to do with Calvin and Hobbes you may ask? Well, I was thinking about that little cockatiel this morning and it reminded me of a very sweet set of Calvin and Hobbes strips that I've listed below.  Sometimes Calvin and Hobbes hits just a little too close to home.  I hope you enjoy these and my upcoming vignette about some great (and un-cheesy) comics for kids (and adults who still act like kids).




  


 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Children's Book Review: Sounds of Laughter

Name Of Book: Sounds Of Laughter
Author / Illustrator: By Bill Martin, Jr.
What It's All About: This book was from a set of California State Series books by Bill Martin, Jr. that my parents had in their library and I loved them.  Each book was a set of stories.  Sounds of Laughter possibly has the most stories I loved but the other books (Sounds Around The Clock, Sounds Of Numbers) have great vignettes too.
My Favorite Bit: In this book it has to be Old Lucy Lindy And The Pies.  My family still says the now familiar phrase, "She put the initials IM on the pies that had mince in them for Is Mince, and she put IM on the pies that didn't have mince for Isn't Mince." 
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This has a little something for every age but smack dab in the middle of elementary school is probably what it was intended for. 
Go Get It: I recommend these as a nice addition to your library.  Get a used copy HERE.
Titles In Sounds Of Laughter:
Listen, Listen, a poem
The Funny old man and the Funny Old Woman
Here's a picture for storytelling
Good Night, a poem
The Old Woman and her Pig
Susie Moriar, a poem
The Three Billy-Goats Gruff
Shadow Dance, a poem
This is Halloween, a poem
A Maker of Boxes
Here's a picture for storytelling
Old Lucy Lindy and the Pies
Choosing Shoes, a poem
Joey Kangaroo
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Little Red-Cap
Out in the Rain
Here's a picture for storytelling
Growing up, Growing Older
Nine Little Goblins
The River, a poem
Knots on a Counting Rope
Here's a picture for storytelling
The Tiger, The Brahman and the Jackal
Keep a poem in you Pocket, a poem

All in all a fun book for all ages. I would recommend the series even though they're reaching from 50 years ago.  In Sounds Of Numbers my favorite story is Ten Pennies For Andy.  Check them all out!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Children's Book Review: Angelina's Christmas

Name of Book: Angelina's Christmas
Author / Illustrator: Written by Katharine Hollabird and Illustrated by Helen Craig
What It's All About: At Christmas time Angelina discovers an old lonely mouse in town and enlists him to dress as Santa as he used to do when he was the village postman.
My Favorite Bit:  As with all the Angelina stories, my favorite bits are the illustrations.  Craig is a wonderfully detailed artist who takes pride in the little touches in each picture and if you're like me, you love just looking at the pages to see everything she's stuck in.  This talent is at the top of the list for me when I buy books as well as anything I illustrate myself.  Adults and children alike love to hunt for things and notice details in pictures.  It says something about the artist.  They haven't thrown away a page.  They implore you to stay awhile and look a little longer. Craig lands in good company here with artists like Mercer Mayer and Richard Scarry. In this particular Angelina book, my favorite page is when Angelina, Henry, and Mr. Mouseling take presents and a tree to Mr. Bell as a Christmas surprise.

Suitable Age For Reading It To: The Angelina books are perfect for around age 4-6.  They can be read to younger/older children but I think they are perfect for 4-6 year olds.  The writing is such that younger children may perhaps get tired of the length and older children may wish to move on to a quicker paced story.  The writing is average, not fantastic (my opinion) but coupled with the simply lovely illustrations, these books  have become my daughter's favorites and can become yours too.
Go Get It: Angelina's Christmas in paperback at Amazon US
A Little About the Author / Illustrator: Check out my little blurb about the author and illustrator in an earlier book review HERE.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ten Animated Disney Movies You Should See

Well okay, this is a hard one.  There are lots of Disney movies to choose from.  And before all of you independent forward thinkers start groaning about Disney and their steamroller approach to marketing, let me explain.  Some people like to talk about the old classic fairytales and how Disney has run over them, made them all have gigantic eyes and tiny waists, and lost the essence of the stories completely.  Not so.  Come now, fellow readers.  The movies below have been done masterfully, if not improving the stories of some, at least bringing pictures to fairytales that need to be known throughout the world.  I know, I've read most of these stories in their original forms.
So here we go:

The Little Mermaid (1989)This movie caught me at that impressionable age of ten.  It's hard not to love it when the heroine survives and marries the prince versus the old Hans Christian Anderson tale where she dies and becomes bubbles.



Sleeping Beauty (1959)
The tale of Sleeping Beauty is made all the more interesting by Eyvind Earle's beautiful and fantastic scenery painting.  This particulary version is also close to my heart as it has (in my opinion) the most interesting Disney prince.  He is hero willing to fight and we love to cheer Prince Phillip on. 


The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh (1977)
Now, I do love A. A. Milne and have read his works so let's get one thing straight.  This is not A. A. Milne.  These characters are not very similar to the stories that Milne conjured up but they are charming.  This little set of stories is quite fun and both myself, my husband, and our children have enjoyed the series.  Check out The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1988-1991) if you want more stories about this group. 


Tarzan (1999)
Possibly my favorite Disney film.  Beautifully retold.  Lovely score.  Really just a Disney masterpiece in my opinion.


Mulan (1998)
This tale is beautifully told and even though Eddie Murphy has been cast as the talking sidekick, Mushu is a cutie pie.  Ming-na does a great job of voicing Mulan and the story is lovely.



Beauty In The Beast (1991)
Beauty and the Beast is up there for me too.  When you think about the actual story, you realize how much Disney has put into this film.  The opening credits of the stained glass story over the Saint-Saen type score is simply stunning.  I love the characters, the songs are good, and the color is rich and lustrous.  This is definitely one of Disney's best.




Fantasia (1940)
Fantasia is a little off the beaten path as not many people are drawn to a collection of cartoons illustrating musical pieces.  I do find a little of the orchestra preparing to be on the slow side but some of the actual pieces in this film are beyond reproach.  If I had to pick favorites I'd say that these three top my list: First has to be the Dance of the Hours with the alligator, hippos, ostriches, and elephants.  Amazing.  Secondly, I love Beethoven's pastoral symphony with the creation of the world and all mythical creatures.  When I was little I wanted to brush the Kentaurides hair and play in the rainbow water with the little pegasus babies.  Thirdly, I love the Tchaikovsky pieces from the Nutcracker and the little fairies changing the seasons.  I can't remember if those two go together but I do enjoy them both.  



Aladdin (1992)
I don't know.  The original to this story was a bare bones sort of tale and Disney has added quite a bit to it.  I loved this movie when it came out.  I still think it's towards the top of Disney's lists.  Just some good old fashioned fairytale fun.


Lilo And Stitch (2002)
This movie will hold a special place in my heart as it came out the same year my son was born and he has always loved it.  You have to love Stitch, Pleakley, Jumba, and little Lilo.  I love when Disney does originals well and this is one of those.



Emperor's New Groove (2000)
If a movie is going to be sarcastic, it might as well go all the way.  The combination of the voices of David Spade and Patrick Warburton are pretty much unbeatable.  It's almost like they animated those two guys and wrote a story for them.  Warburton is one of my all-time favorites.  Watch this film with your kids.  You'll snicker and haw all the way through.

Well, that's it.  Here are ten movies you can add to your watching repertoire or you can purchase them for Christmas.  If you haven't seen one of these I encourage you to give it a chance.  They're all worth an hour or two of your time.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vignette: Feldman Books

On a busy street in the pretty town of Menlo Park sits an old bookstore, the kind you hope will stay in business with all those major bookstore chains bulldozing in and out of our cities. I have nothing much against the big chains except for their promises of low prices, now unable to fulfill such claims with online shopping so accessible for book buyers.  Amazon and Alibris and a host of other e-bookshops have made big chains unimportant.  But, back to a little town and it's treasures.

     The sunny town of Menlo Park boasts some really lovely shops, some extraordinarily expensive charity shops with real fur coats in them, boutiques with outrageously decadent gifts for the very wealthy, and little places to eat in many convenient locations.

     So, here I am.  It's May, I'm turning thirty, and I'm spending the day out by myself while my husband takes a class towards his master's degree.  The day is a gift from my husband and I am happy, blissfully aware that I don't have to worry about bored kids or an impatient spouse, and I opt for a stroll.  Then just a block or two from our parked car I find it. Feldman Books.  The front isn't anything to write home about. It's an old building with a little wooden door and two big picture windows piled with books but I get a little thrill that goes right down to my fingertips.  My family is a book family and we prize bookstores that look like this, unsure of what treasures we'll find inside but certain there will be something worth getting.  Outside as I stand on the street there is the noise of passing vehicles but inside is cool and dark with the pervasive smell of must and leather that goes hand in hand with books.  My sister and I found a bookstore like this in London.  You don't know where the back is.  You don't know where the little passageways lead.  You wander, looking for genres you can sink your teeth into.
 
     I push the door open with a thunk and head towards the back of the shop after questioning the clerk as to where the mystery and science fiction books dwell.  The back room was not originally part of the store.  It was a building behind the bookstore with a small sort of furtive garden in between.  There is a ramp that goes from door to door as if to warn you not to stray off the path and visit the plants but rather keep to your agenda and get to the books.  The back room had lower ceilings and less beauty in the bindings but I am immediately happy.  I find that comics are also in this space and I can look up Agatha Christie, Terry Pratchett, or Herge without missing a beat. After scanning the various paperback racks and pulling out a half dozen books I want to add to my collection, I head back to the main building and look for the children's section.  I've disciplined myself not to start there as I won't be able to leave if I do.
    The children's section in an old bookstore like Feldman's is always something special.  I've always loved childrens books and areas dedicated to this genre pull me in.  Not to be found are the newest additions, the myriad of toys to make up for the fact that there aren't that many books, or the series of books churned out by giant companies with little thought to illustration, plot, or general quality.  Here are the old classics joined by books from the twenties through the fifties with pictures and titles unknown to me.  I scan for the titles I love but cannot find in new bookstores.  Gold mine! Here is a copy of The Rainbow Goblins for eight dollars.  It costs twenty dollars in our "used" bookstore in my town.  Someone thoughtfully placed a low stool in the room and I unashamedly slog my pile of books down and start reading titles.  On one shelf I find a set of Nancy Drews with remarkable covers from the sixties.  The Sign Of The Twisted Candle...one of my favorites.  I grin at the discovery of How Fletcher Was Hatched in hardback with a linen cover.  I make sure there aren't any beautiful versions of classics like Alice In Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lord of the Rings, or The Chronicles of Narnia that I can't live without before switching over to paperbacks.  I don't mind paperbacks but I prefer hardbacks if only for their beauty.  Success! A copy of Trina Schart Hyman's Rapunzel. I didn't have that one. Only after I get past that uncomfortable amount of money where I start to wonder if I should put things back do I get up and regretfully head out the door with my purchases.

I'm happy with what I'm adding to my collection but I'm secretly aware that what I really want is a bookstore of my own where all the books are beautiful and all of them are mine.  I want soft leather chairs you can sink into, low yellow lighting that warms the pages as you turn them, a bookstore cat that won't sit on your lap but makes everything a little more homey, the promise of a good cup of hot chocolate from a coffee shop nearby, and the quiet dense feel of living in a bookshop.  All your friends are here.  Prince Andre is having tea with Ebeneezer Scrooge.  Frog and Toad have taken down the cookie jar and are giving cookies to all the waterbabies.  Miss Elizabeth Bennett is in an earnest discussion with Andre-Louis Moreau and Mr. Psmith is dueling with Captain Hook and winning without looking.  He's more interested in the chess set that Mr. Holmes and Mr. Poirot are playing.  I don't know whose winning but Poirot's eyes are very green.
So until I live in my bookstore I'll say good night dear readers.  Pull out your favorite books.  Add to your library every year.  Instill in your children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews a love for books and a respect for the written word.  That is all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Children's Book Review: Snow White

 
Name of Book: Snow White
Author / Illustrator: By the Brothers Grimm, freely translated from the German by Paul Heins and Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

What It's All About:This is the classic fairytale by the Brothers Grimm.  A beautiful Queen wishes for a daughter with hair as black as ebony and skin as white as snow.  She has Snow White and dies in childbirth.  The King remarries after a year to a beautiful but cruel woman (fairytale Stepmother).  The vain Queen has a magical mirror that will answer truthfully the question, "who is the most beautiful in this land?"  The day comes when Snow White surpasses the Queen in beauty.  The Queen is so envious she tells a hunter to take the child into the woods and kill her.  The hunter, having some pity, releases the child into the woods and returns to the Queen.  Snow White finds a little house in the terrifying woods and creeps in.  Exhausted she falls asleep.  Seven dwarfs come home and find a beautiful girl in house.  They offer to let her live with them and she agrees.  Every day they hunt for gold and every day Snow White takes care of the cottage.  The Queen soon learns from her mirror that Snow White is still alive.  Furious, the Queen dyes her face and dresses like a peddler and goes to the cottage in the woods.  First she sells Snow White a corset and laces so tight that Snow White faints.  The dwarfs come home in time and cut the corset from her and she revives.  The Queen tries to kill Snow White again with a poisoned comb, which she places in Snow White's hair.  Again the dwarfs come home and remove the comb in time to save Snow White.  A third time the Queen dresses as a peasant and brings a poisoned apple to Snow White.  Snow White eats the poison half and falls down as if dead.  The dwarfs find her and cannot revive her.  They think she must be dead and weep aloud but cannot bring themselves to bury her for she still looks so beautiful.  Instead they build a glass coffin and take turns keeping watch over her.  A king's son discovers Snow White and begs the dwarfs to let him take it.  They will not sell it to him and he asks for it as a gift, for he cannot live without seeing Snow White.  The dwarfs take pity on him and give it to him.  As the coffin is jostled, it moves the apple from Snow White's throat and she awakens.  The prince asks her to marry him and she agrees.  Her wicked Stepmother is invited to the feast and comes, not knowing it is Snow White who will marry the prince.  She is horrified when she sees the young queen but cannot turn back.  Iron slippers are placed on a coal fire and brought before her.  She has to step into the red hot shoes and dance until she falls down dead. 

My Favorite Bit: I love every illustration in this story.  It is a gorgeous piece of work and I encourage you to add it to your library.  My favorite picture is the kindly prince looking at Snow White in the glass coffin.
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This is a retelling for older children.  Not only are the pages longer but the story itself is cruel and sharp.  I would wait until your children are around seven before you read this version to them.  There are other retellings that are less dramatic but none as beautiful. Tread carefully with little minds here. 
Go Get It: Snow White on Amazon US. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have been reprinted yet and is more expensive but really worth it. 
A Little About The Author / Illustrator: I've already written about Trina Schart Hyman HERE.  One thing that's interesting in her stories is her self-portraits.  In this story she is the face of the wicked Queen the first time she changes into a peddler to deceive Snow White. 





Saturday, November 12, 2011

Five Christmas Books You Should Have

I'm putting out this list a little early for those earlybird Christmas shoppers who need to get things ordered on time. All I can say is God bless Amazon two-day shipping for those of us who remember last minute things.  As a little aside my sister Lizzie made me think about how I shop for books nowadays.  We were in the mall and she had popped down to a new bookstore to see what they had and come back disappointed as they weren't really stocked up yet.  She mentioned having gone to several bookstores trying to find a book and would have to order it online.  I seem to take the opposite approach these days and order on Amazon, Abebooks, Alibris, or even Ebay before I try and find it in a bookstore.  That seems a little sad to me as I write this but I think the days of going to bookstores with an agenda are over.  I love bookstores and go to great ones for the sheer pleasure of wandering through shelves of beautiful books, but I don't go with an aim in mind.  The world of books is changing.  


The Christmas Train HERE
by Ivan Gantschev
This is a lovely story about a child who saves a train on Christmas Eve by dragging her Christmas tree onto the train tracks and lighting it on fire to warn the train of danger ahead.   



The Jolly Christmas Postman HERE
By Janet and Allan Ahlberg
I'll admit this book can take awhile to read because of all the little goodies in the envelopes on every page but my daughter finds it enchanting and it is well done.  Ride with the Jolly Postman as he delivers Christmas letters to all the fairytale inhabitants.




My Little Library of Christmas Classics: The Night Before Christmas; The Nutcracker; Christmas Carols; The Fir Tree HERE
By Diane Goode
This little set seems to be getting lost on the bookshelves but I hope they reprint it soon.  These little books are beautifully illustrated, a perfect size for little hands, and a perfect stocking stuffer. 




Santa's Favorite Story HERE
Written by Hisako Aoki and Illustrated by Ivan Gantschev
Christmas may be canceled this year because Santa is too tired to deliver all his packages. The forest animals are worried, but when Santa tells them the story of the very first Christmas, when Christ was born, the animals discover the true spirit of the season.



Madeline's Christmas HERE
By Ludwig Bemelmans
Out of all the Madeline books, this was at the top of the list for me.  The illustrations are deeply colorful and with a magic carpet ride, a zoo in the snow, and beautiful presents, you'll want to turn the page to see what's next.  Madeline...not just for girls.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Children's Book Review: Socks For Supper

Name of Book: Socks For Supper
Author / Illustrator: By Jack Kent
What's It All About: A man and a woman live in a little cottage and have only turnips to eat they are so poor.  Next door lives a wealthy farmer with a cow.  The man and woman dream of cheese and milk to eat.  The man looks for something to trade the wealthy farmer but all he can find is a pair of red socks.  He takes them anyway and lo and behold the wealthy farmer trades him milk and cheese for the socks.  The man and woman love the meal and want more but where can they get more red socks? The woman begins to knit more socks with the man's sweater and again he trades the socks for milk and cheese.  What will happen when his sweater runs out? Read on.
My Favorite Bit: I've always loved the way the cheese and milk looked and how happy the man and woman were when they had another meal.  This story's simple illustrations, lovely colors, and fun story make it a classic that must be in your library.

Suitable Age For Reading It To: This is a for everyone book.  Around two the children would understand the pictures and all the way up to ten will love the story.  My son still enjoys this one at nine and we don't plan on stopping reading it. 


Go Get It:  Socks For Supper at Alibris in hardback.  It has not been re-released as far as I can tell and that makes it harder to find one in good condition for little but here's a good try.
A Little About The Author / Illustrator:

Jack Kent was born in Burlington, Iowa in 1920 and passed away in 1985 from leukemia.  He wrote/illustrated over forty books and is best known for his comic strip King Aroo.  Kent dropped out of high school at age 15 and became a commercial artist until he joined the army in 1941.  Jack and his wife June named their home on the banks of San Antonio River King Aroo's Castle.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Vignette: Things That Ain't Books: Here Comes EeBoo!

Besides books, we love discovering quality toys and games that contain both lovely and thoughtful illustrations and good content.  When I find a company that does both I simply have to share.  So...here comes the company EeBoo!

If you haven't anything from this fabulous company, scoot on over to Amazon or your EeBoo.com and start adding these to your cart.  You won't be sorry! I'm one of those crazy Christmas shoppers who shop all year round.  I'm from a large family and to even have a chance we shop all the time.  Actually, I log away comments from family all year and start shopping in the fall.  Here are a few of my favorite EeBoo products.  There's plenty more out there so check 'em out!
The Go Fish! card game is our favorite and our best.  A gift from amazing grandparents, we play with these cards all the time.  Look how cute they are! And look at they're simply perfect colors--chartreuse, indigo, hot pink, warm red, eggplant, cafe au lait--incidentally, a small child repeating the words cafe au lait is one of the cutest things ever.  Trust me.  This set is made of heavy coated cardstock and all the colors are great.  They come in a neat little box with a slide out drawer. Get it here on Amazon.com

These sweet alphabet cards above hang on the kids walls of my good friend and amazing blogger Miss Mommy's.  Check out her blog for delicious recipes, fun stories, and tips on teaching your kiddos Spanish.  She's pretty amazing all around.  Click on the picture above to go to EeBoo's site or HERE  to get it on Amazon.com

Counting One Through Ten with a Train cards!

The Picnic Game: a board game for kids
Wall art with counting birds...very sweet


 Advent calendars! Click the picture to see more of them on EeBoo.

 EeBoo Castle and horses diary (I mean, really? I want this)

Okay, so I could go on and on because there are plenty of other games, wall art hangings, growth charts, diaries, puzzles, art supplies and generally lovely art pieces that you can pick up very reasonably and play with your child!  If you're looking for an inspiration for eager Grandparents wanting to give gifts, these are a great line to choose from.  They are both timeless and useful and (wait for it) NOT GIGANTIC TOYS that fill your living room, bedrooms, and beyond...and did I mention they're affordable?  So, happy hunting and I hope you get a chance to own something from this super sweet company!  Check out more at EeBoo HERE or get them on Amazon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Children's Book Review: Richard Scarry's Great Big Mystery Book


Name of Book: Richard Scarry's Great Big Mystery Book
Author / Illustrator: Written and illustrated by Richard Scarry
What's It All About: There are two tales in this book.  The first is called The Supermarket Mystery and the second is The Great Pie Robbery Both stories feature heros Sam Cat and Dudley Pig.  They are detectives.
In The Supermarket Mystery Sam and Dudley drive to Grocer Dog's supermarket to help him find a thief.  Dudley and Sam change into disguises.  Dudley always keeps disguises in his umbrella.  Sam dresses up as a sack of potatoes and Dudley dresses up as a woman shopper.  They hunt for the thief and make a few mistakes on the way.  Poor Dudley! He's always getting into trouble.  But when the thief is found, Dudley can't find Sam.  He's been stolen as a bag of potatoes! Will Dudley catch the thief? Will Sam ever be found? Read on dear friends.
In The Great Pie Robbery some thieves have stolen pies from Ma Dog's Bakery.  Dudley Pig and Sam Cat look for clues.  They see the robbers escaping with cherry pie all over their faces.  Dudley has also discovered that one of them has torn their pants on a rose bush.  Dudley and Sam chase the robbers through a restaurant and back to their den where they won't come out.  Dudley pulls out another nifty disguise that he and Sam put on.  What do you think they dressed up as? A lady hippopotamus with a surprise for the thieves.  Oh those detectives are clever!
My Favorite Bit:
From The Supermarket Mystery I really loved the scenes of the supermarket in general.  I loved when Dudley ate a stuffed piece of fruit off a lady's hat and I love when he makes the alligator babies cry on accident.  The page where Dudley rolls after Blackfinger Wolf through the dangerous side of town is quite spooky.
From The Great Pie Robbery there is a line that has survived in our family.  We love to say, "No, we are sitting on our own hats." To find this page you'll have to get the book and read it.
As I side note I must mention that Richard Scarry is in the highest class of children's book authors and illustrators and one of my absolute favorites.  You can always tell when someone writes for children without "writing for children". 
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This book is like all Scarry books.  You can look at it with any age and start reading the stories around three-ish.  Sometimes they are a bit long but these two are a great length for even that age.  And my son and I being respectively nine and thirty-two still love this book so there you go--there isn't a stopping point (as I've said before and will say again) with all good childrens books.
Go Get It: Richard Scarry's Great Big Mystery Book on Amazon US
A Little About The Author / Illustrator:
Read my earlier spot here for a very short blurb: BLURB. 
Otherwise, here's a little more about Mr. Scarry:
Born June 5, 1919 and passed away April 30, 1994 of a heart attack after surgery for esophageal cancer in Gstaad at age 74. Born in Boston, Massachusetts to shop owners, Richard disliked school and received poor grades.  After trying business school at his father's request, Richard went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston until he was drafted during WWII.  Using his talents even in the army, Scarry served as an art director, editor, and writer of Army information publications for North Africa and Italy.  When the war ended he worked in art departments at various magazines in NYC and later signed a contract to produce books for The Artists and Writers Guild to produce books for their Little Golden Books line.  He married Patricia Murphy in 1948 and in 1972 they purchased a chalet in Gstaad, where Scarry spent most of his time in his studio.