My kids’ favorite books — and my favorite kids’ books


When I daydreamed about becoming a mom, the vision of reading to my curly-haired children (who do, in fact, have curly hair!) often included a book in my hands. I did the whole “read to your belly” thing when pregnant, even though that felt awkward. And I started collecting children’s books long before I had the children themselves.

It’s taken a little while, but for the most part? I think we’re raising readers, which makes me so happy. My daughter, in particular, loves to share stories; she’s always schlepping into our “library” (now more of a giant toy box, let’s just be honest) to grab a book and plop into my lap. Oh, the joy. Alllllll the heart-eye emojis.

Hadley is now two and a half, and Oliver is four. Both have Fire tablets (I know, I know!), which tend to occupy their attention … but my husband and I have been pretty diligent about controlling their time spent in front of screens, even though it’s just so dang easy to let them zone out while I do … well, anything. Like cook dinner. Or go to the bathroom. Or answer the group text that’s gotten out of hand.

But I don’t want glassy-eyed zombie kids sprawled out in the living room. The tablets have their time and place — but we read to the kids nightly, and try not to reserve stories simply for bedtime. I say this not to be smug, but to really say that we’re making an effort! I think that’s my mom motto: making an effort. Trying. Striving.

So here’s what they’re loving lately . . . and what I’m loving, too. Because let’s be honest: there’s nothing fun about re-reading PAW Patrol: To the Lookout for the 97th time!

Just try telling that to my son.


Hadley’s Faves

I Love You Just Like This by Sesame Workshop: The “Sesame Street” love is still going strong at our house, and this sweet story about how much Elmo’s mom loves him has great illustrations and all those beloved characters. I will totally own that I tear up at the end, too.

Five Little PumpkinsFive Little Pumpkins by Tiger Tales and Ben Mantle: OK, how adorable is this? I have such fond memories of this story told in song form when my sister and I were in elementary school. I bought this book for Ollie as a baby and can’t resist its charms. Neither can Haddie.

Pop-Up Surprise Haunted House by Roger Priddy: Cute rhymes, captivating (and spooky!) pop-up characters — Hadley can’t get enough of this one. Our record is fives times in a row.


Oliver’s Faves

The Little School Bus by Margery Cuyler and Bob Kolar: Driver Bob picks up students en route to school, and I love how inclusive and sweet this story is. (Also, Bob drinks coffee faithfully — I feel you, Bob.) Ollie just loves all the vehicles and enjoys finding kids who “look like Uncle Eric.” The whole series is really fun!

Oliver book.jpegOliver Who Would Not Sleep by Mara Bergman and Nick Maland: Ohhh, the irony. Not terribly surprising that my son loves a book spearheaded by a little boy named Oliver who refuses to go to bed, preferring his adventures in outer space. We read this nightly, and the cadence of the story is soothing.

Goodnight Tractor by Michelle Robinson and Nick East: This book is a total snoozefest — and I mean that in the best way. It’s like a drug. I barely get to the halfway point when my rambunctious guy will pass out cold. It’s melodic, fun to read (and listen to), and definitely perfect for tractor lovers.


My Faves

truffula treesI’ve been trying valiantly to get the kids into Dr. Seuss, pulling out all my childhood favorites in the process. I had some success with The Lorax after they watched the recent version of the film with its candy-colored Truffula trees. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is next on my list! Man, that book captured my imagination as a kid.

I’m guessing this will be surprising to exactly no one, but I can still barely through through On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman without breaking down into tears born of love, fear, and everything in between. Reading it to Ollie takes me back to the night he was born, finally coming into the world at almost 10 p.m. Phew — read at your own risk.

/ / /

What books are you sharing with the little ones in your life? 

Do you have a favorite Seuss classic?

Are you weirdly surprised to see me posting on a random day in September?

I swear I’m still chugging along, though I do find myself spending less time on social media and being more thoughtful about what and how I’m sharing online. Not out of fear, per say … but an awareness that I’ve been putting my life out there for a long time, and sometimes it feels right to reserve a little something for my family … and myself.

Does that make sense? I don’t know. One thing hasn’t changed: I’m still tired and drinking way too much coffee. But I’m home with a stomach-sick Hadley boo today, so it felt like the right time to check in. I’m still here, and you can also catch me on Instagram. Hi!

Books on Oliver’s shelves

Oliver and books

Last Christmas, shortly after announcing my pregnancy, I received a gift for Baby J that made me cry — and it wasn’t just the hormones: two sweet board books from Magan at Rather Be Reading, favorites of her daughter’s. The official beginning of our little one’s library.

In April, Baby J became Oliver, and our son’s book collection has grown exponentially. Like many excited readers and parents-to-be, I’ve been quietly building his stash for years. I wrote about my “secret” book-buying back when he was the proverbial twinkle in my eye, and I’m finally able to share many of the books I’ve been collecting with him.

At nearly 6 months old, Ollie is starting to show an interest in “reading.” I prop him up in my lap with a book in front of us, then try to be patient as we’re inevitably interrupted by baby hands slapping the pages or a hunger cry breaking the momentum.

I love reading aloud. Not to, you know, toot my own horn or anything, but I was pretty much the designated class reader in fourth and fifth grade. So.

Since my reading talents have been dormant for the better part of two decades, I’m really livin’ it up now. The whole reading-to-my-belly thing never felt natural, but reading to an actual infant is an entirely different experience.

Ollie is too little to have obvious preferences, but he does kick his little feet crazily to a few “favorite” books. Here’s what we have stacked in the nursery right now.

(And P.S.: taking a page out of Steph’s book, I created a Goodreads shelf to catalog Ollie’s reading adventures. I plan to keep up with them there!)

Children's books

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
Illustrated by Dan Hanna
This unique, adorable story — with very clever rhyming — chronicles the Pout-Pout Fish’s excuses to friends as to why he’s a total downer. A shot at love turns that frown upside down. The Pout-Pout Fish is so much fun to read, I find myself thinking of the little rhymes — “I’m a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face . . .” — throughout my work day. You know: alone.

On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
If you want an instant parent tearjerker, look no further. A sweet, soothing story describing the uniqueness of each child welcomed into the world.

Nothing we’ve read feels as personal nor has impacted me as deeply as this book, which was a gift from a family friend in New York. We didn’t receive it until Oliver had been home from the NICU for a few weeks, but I read it once and immediately fell in love. I’ve read it with and without Ollie, and have the entire story memorized.

The “night” part is what gets me, I guess. Oliver was born at almost 10 p.m. I remember laying alone in my hospital room after my husband went to see him, the first person in our family to touch his tiny hand. Though I know it’s cliche, we were changed forever. On the Night You Were Born so perfectly summarizes those feelings for me, and how special and unique each tiny baby is. It’s just . . . a beautiful book.

Don Quixote by Jennifer Adams
Illustrated by Alison Oliver
This retelling of Miguel de Cervantes’ famous story is simple, but compelling to little eyes: bold colors and vivid illustrations with both English and Spanish words. Something about this book ignites a fire in Ollie; he kicks his feet like a madman and loves it.

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
Illustrated by Leslie Staub
A story that packs a powerful punch. Regardless of skin color, nationality or origin, children everywhere are alike, linked and connected. A great primer for teaching about differences, tolerance and friendship.

Firebears, the Rescue Team by Rhonda Gowler Greene
Illustrated by Dan Andreasen
If you know a future firefighter (or even if you don’t), Firebears will captivate them. The story of a rescue squad ready to (adorably) protect the community, the Firebears come to the aid of neighbors and cats stuck in trees before fighting home fires.

Given I was a child so paranoid about flames that my parents purchased a fold-up ladder for my second-story bedroom, this might have freaked me out as a tot — but the message about safety is a good one, and I love the vertical images of the bears sliding down the fire pole. Cuteness.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This classic has enchanted me since childhood with its bright colors, beautiful illustrations and evolution of a hungry caterpillar who eats everything, then eventually emerges as a butterfly. This was the very first book I read to Ollie (who slept the whole time, of course): short and truly sweet!

A Halloween Scare In . . . by Eric James
Illustrated by Marina La Ray
Written for each state (we have Maryland), this Halloween story will delight children and parents equally with its local places, clever state connections (the flag on a mailbox!) and cute story about being yourself and facing fears. My hometown is mentioned, which is really icing on the witch-shaped cake. Very adorable!

I’m always seeking new reads for Oliver’s collection. What are some of your favorites? What books do your little ones adore? Please share!

Dropping everything to read

You know when I felt we were going to be okay, my little family and me?

When my sister shared that April 12 — the unexpected date of my son’s birth — is Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Day, a national celebration in which families are encouraged to settle down and enjoy books together at home.

Ramona booksThe date is a special one: Oliver shares his birthday with author Beverly Cleary, who wrote so many of books beloved by children, including me. Chief among them are the “Ramona” stories. I remember borrowing Ramona Quimby, Age 8 from the library so much that my parents eventually broke down and got me my own copy.

When it came to Cleary’s famous sisters, I was the quintessential older sister — the Beezus — to my little sister’s Ramona. Cleary’s stories were the first “chapter books” I related to on a personal level, seeing shades of both Katie and myself in her delightful characters. Along with Judy Blume’s Super Fudge, another book I read constantly, the “Ramona” novels were my earliest introduction to reading as pleasure. The more time I spent with those folks? The more I realized characters can become as “real” as your own dear friends, which has added texture to my entire life.

My elementary school was fortunate to have a fabulous librarian — a woman with whom I’m still in contact. I remember her helping us select chapter books and encouraging our zest for reading, even dressing up as the Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat on special occasions. I was such a dutiful little reader that, after finishing a story, I ran excitedly back to her with completed book reports that would earn me paper “reading mice.” They were more valuable than gold.

Though 10-week-old Oliver isn’t exactly ready to “drop everything and read,” I want reading to be a part of his world from the get-go — and already love sharing stories with him. My favorite right now is Nancy Tillman’s On the Night You Were Born, which never fails to make me ugly cry, but picture book versions of Old MacDonald and Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar are also in heavy rotation.

I’ve imagined building my child’s library and reading books together long before this sweet babe was even a twinkle in my eye. When I was pregnant, I often read to my belly — even when it felt a little silly. In fact, when Ollie was in the NICU, one of the saddest moments I had was sitting in our home library surrounded by the children’s stories I’d been “reading” him for months. I thought I was doing okay — until seeing a stack of board books cracked me right in half.

But that was only temporary, of course. Now that he’s home (and feisty!), I’ve tried to get in the habit of sharing a bedtime — or close to bedtime — story with him. I’ll admit that there have been nights I couldn’t muster the strength, but I already look forward to these quiet moments together and hope that, as he grows, he will do the same.

I want to raise a reader. I want my child to find shades of himself in powerful, courageous, brave and wonderful characters — just like his mom. Though I know Oliver will be his own person, his own man, I know we can find stories that will interest him . . . no matter what he’s someday interested in. And I’m so very ready to walk with him down that literary path!

As a lifelong lover of books, it seemed serendipitous that Oliver’s unexpected birth would fall on a day dedicated to reading — and in honor of a favorite childhood author, no less. My sister shared the news of D.E.A.R. Day with me as I recovered in a hospital bed away from my tiny babe, stunned and hurting and sad.

It felt a little like a novel-toting guardian angel tapping on my shoulder, promising that Ollie and I would have many stories to share.

I couldn’t wait to get started.

Reading with Oliver

If you ask a Meg to choose a story . . .

If You Give A Mouse

At my cousin’s recent book-inspired baby shower (which was one of the most gorgeous showers I’ve attended — bar none. More on that in another post!), guests were asked to bring their favorite childhood reads to help build the new little one’s library. As I mentioned in January, I was all over this.

My mom and I made a trip to our local bookstore (yay, we still have one!) to wander the kids’ section. I hadn’t spent any amount of time back there since I worked at Borders, its previous incarnation, and those times were usually awful; they required me getting down my knees to pick up books that had been strewn all over the floor. I can count on one hand the times I’d wander back to the children’s section while working and wouldn’t discover a very localized tornado had chucked everything off the shelves and into the walkway.

But this time? Total fun — though choosing just one was really difficult. I spent way too much time debating the merits of several picture books, reminiscing with Mom about the times she’d read classics like “The Berenstain Bears” to my sister and me. In the end, I wound up selecting an unconventional favorite — because I feared my usual loves, like Dr. Seuss’ One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, might result in duplicates.

My choice? If You Give A Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.

Published in 1985, the year I was born, I remember spending hours reading and re-reading this story on the floor of my elementary school library. As kids, it was just hilarious. Described as a “circular story,” I loved the symmetry of it all. Although, at 7, I doubt I would have described it that way.

There are so many awesome children’s stories, though — many of which were highlighted at the shower. My sister brought a selection of Mercer Mayer’s “Little Critter” books and a few favorites from “The Berenstain Bears,” and Mom found a musical book featuring “A Charlie Brown Christmas” — the TV special she looked forward to watching every holiday season (and still does!).

It was so fun to see what others had chosen for Karen and Ben’s little girl or boy to come, and I may or may not have gotten some ideas for my own future kids’ secret library. Plus, the whole experience reminded me of some beloved classics I’d completely forgotten: like The Giant Jam Sandwich. Man, that book was awesome.

Um, I kind of added it to my Amazon cart. For . . . me.

Books at the shower

Building my secret library


I have a confession to make.

In a spot far from prying eyes, I’ve been quietly building a library. It grows novel by novel, paperback by paperback — books stacks atop each other where I can reach them, but don’t see them every day. It’s enough to know they’re there: these stories I plan to share someday. With my future kids.

Yes, friends, I have a kids’ library — for the kids that are nothing but a sparkle in my 27-year-old eye.

I guess it’s weird to be collecting books for children that don’t yet exist. But as I’ve gotten older and started planning my life with Spence, I’ve had things like this on the brain.

Not too on the brain, now. Don’t get scared. Just, you know . . . floating around in the periphery. For years from now.

And babies? Babies are everywhere. If I thought everyone was getting hitched before, the rings have been tossed aside for baby blankets. The pregnancy announcement is the new engagement announcement on Facebook, and my own friends and family are no exception. My lovely cousin Karen is expecting her first baby with husband Ben this spring, and we’ve been asked to bring a favorite book from childhood to start building my new cousin-to-be’s library at the baby shower.

Being an insanely crazed and eager reader, I was all over this request. My mom and I set out to our local bookstore to comb the shelves for just the right story yesterday, and I picked up several hardcovers before getting serious about choosing just one: my absolute favorite childhood book. That sounds scary, doesn’t it? And intimidating? I won’t share my final pick in case Karen sees this, but suffice it to say it’s awesome and not one I expect other guests to bring. Um, hopefully.

Not that you can have too many books.


But back to my quirky kid library. I’ve added new titles to my pile: the BabyLit books, a series by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver. A collection designed to introduce young readers to classics like Moby Dick, Sense & Sensibility and Romeo & Juliet, BabyLit books sent the reader in me — and someday-but-not-too-soon aspiring parent, too — into a tizzy.

Of the three I own, courtesy of the publisher, my absolute favorite is Jane Eyre. This counting primer features gorgeous illustrations and enough bookish acknowledgements to make the classics lover in me giggle. Perfect for sharing with little ones, Jane Eyre even features a sketch of that complicated, dreamy Mr. Rochester. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.



For literature buffs, the BabyLit series is a great way to introduce children to great works . . . in an easy-to-digest, cute package. Though the Bronte sisters might be a wee bit intense for your 2-year-old, this Jane Eyre will be right up their alley. The colorful artwork is a treat for the senses, and I’m sure you’ll be the hit of your book lover pal’s baby shower with one of these tucked in their gift bag.

I’d share them with friends, but I’m way too greedy to give them up. Books about books: they get me every time.


Books my future kids will read (whether they like it or NOT)

So I’m 24 years old. I spend the majority of my time with — ahem — adults, and I love them dearly . . . but let’s be frank: if I tell you I was born on a sultry July day in 1985 and you groan loudly, laughing and rolling your eyes, I’m just reminded — yet again — that I’m not yet admitted to the Married Parent Club but too old to saunter around the mall with tweens in Zac Efron tees and Ed Hardy shirts (um, do kids still wear Ed Hardy? And who is Ed Hardy?).

Me, the Happy Reader (and Pretend Napper), circa 2003

Me, the Happy Reader (and Pretend Napper), circa 2003

Yes, I’m in my twenties — and single in my twenties. While friends are getting engaged and starting their families, I’m still up late gabbing with my sister, shopping to my heart’s content and generally causing independent, self-reliant mayhem. I’m happy with my life, don’t get me wrong — and this isn’t a post about how desperately I’m ready to “move on to the next phase.” It’s just that I’ve been giving some thought to, of all things, my future children — and how I don’t want them to live in a world bereft of Disney classics like “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty & The Beast” and “Aladdin.” Seriously, kids these days? I mean, what with their cell phones and iPods and laptops and digitized everything? It just makes me wonder about what’s to become of Mini Meg — and what sort of entertainment will exist for her. ‘Cause Lord knows no six-year-old of mine will be texting at the dinner table!

Which brings me to books. (Are you with me? Stop snickering — I needed to give you some background, all right?) When I’m browsing at a bookstore, running my fingers along the spines of children’s and young adult paperbacks, I’m frequently reminded of all the books I loved as a kid — and have started making mental note of all the books I want my children to read someday. When they’ll arrive and become literate is a giant Meg Mystery, but I’m hopeful that when they first open their little adorable eyes, it’ll be to a very well-stocked library!

I haven’t yet purchased any of these, so don’t freak out. I’m just beginning to cull them all in one place so when The Day finally arrives, I’ll know I’m bringing up some cute little book nerds . . . just like yours truly. (Emphasis on the cute, let’s be honest.)

And if they don’t like my selections? I’ll whip out a tactic my mom and dad used when I was, um, reluctant to practice piano as a kid — I’ll set a cooking timer. Thirty minutes of practicing — or reading — before I could get up and go about my general business of pestering my sister, watching TV or obsessing over the Weather Channel (yes, the Weather Channel, friends). “Think you’re getting up without finishing that chapter, little Johnny? What does Mommy’s clock say? Hmm, right — I thought not.”

Clearly, I’m already in the running for Future Parent Of The Year. I’ll let you know where you can cast your vote as soon as I find a contest I can enter!

Some Books Meg’s Kids Will Read

(Or They’ll Be In Time Out For-ev-er)

very_hungry_caterpillar The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

OK, so I don’t really imagine Mini Meg putting up a fight about reading this one . . . because what’s not to like? Carle’s classic tale of “science and gluttony” (nicely said, Amazon) has sold more than 12 million copies since its publication decades ago. I remember loving the colorful illustrations as a kid, and the transformation from caterpillar to beautiful butterfly was a fun, powerful thing to behold as a child.

tiggy_and_the_babysitter Tiggy and the Babysitter by Happy Endings Books

I’m not going to lie — I got a little verklempt when the cover of this one appeared on Amazon! I read (and loved) this story of why babysitters aren’t scary — not that I should have ever been scared of babysitters, anyway (mine were always my lovely grandparents!). A little part of my soul died when I realized Tiggy is out of print, but I’m happy to report I still have my (battered) hardcover, straight out of 1987, tucked away on a dusty bookshelf somewhere. Now nobody touch it!

giving_tree The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

What do you mean, this book was published more than 40 years ago? Silverstein’s tale of the friendship between a boy and a tree is timeless and touching — and one of the first times I got a realistic portrayal of unselfish love as a kid. I remember unwrapping the copy given to me by my grandmother and running my fingers carefully over the green cover, even poking that little red apple! I still have my hardcover, so thankfully Mini Meg will get to peruse my very copy! I’ll add it to the stack with Tiggy.

bunniculaBunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery
by Deborah & James Howe

So when I was growing up, the “vampire” we were all obsessed with reading about didn’t have the initials E.C. — and ours was considerably smaller. And fuzzier! The Bunnicula books were beloved in our school library; we all took turns reading about the misadventures of Harold the dog and Chester the cat, who are forced to welcome a new bunny into their home after the Monroe family discovers him at a showing of “Dracula.” Harold seems to be the only one to realize the rabbit’s evil tendencies, and I remember the books being both hilarious and creepy.

berenstain_bears_trick The Berenstain Bears book series
by Stan & Jan Berenstain

Some of my fondest bookish memories as a kid involve The Berenstain Bears, that loveable family of Mama, Papa, Sister & Brother and their many, many adventures. My parents loved sharing them with Kate and me because every story had a “moral,” teaching us a lesson about sharing, family, love or health. Trick Or Treat is awesome, joining the elite ranks of The Truth and Learn About Strangers as several of my favorites. The Berenstain series is alive and well, so I’m not too worried about stockpiling the paperbacks right now. Still, I don’t want to live in a world where I don’t have Mama and Papa to help me teach my kids about junk food, another of my favorites. So maybe I better grab it when I see it!

super_fudgeSuperfudge by Judy Blume

It’s pretty much impossible to read about Farley Drexel Hatcher — a.k.a. Fudge — without falling at least a little in love with this adorable, meddlesome and Dennis the Menace-esque brother of Peter! Blume’s books were another huge hit at our elementary school, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of them at least twice. It took me a little while to find the orange cover I recognized, pictured at left — but I knew I had a winner when I spotted Fudge covering the baby with stamps! Classic!

Blume spoke at this year’s National Book Festival and, when asked by a member of the audience, explained that Fudge was based, in part, on her own son’s childhood. I thought that was adorable! And when someone asked her what Fudge would be like as an adult, the author recoiled; Fudge is, to her, perpetually small! It would be impossible to imagine him as a teen, or with a family of his own. I agree! Long live Fudge! I just hope Mini Meg doesn’t adopt any of his antics . . .

julie_wolves Julie Of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

George’s novel of Miyax/Julie, a 13-year-old Eskimo orphan, made a huge impression on me when I first read it in fifth grade. Julie Of The Wolves was one of the books I read over vacation, sprawled out on the couch under a fan, and it took no time for me to leap from the heat of another blazing Maryland summer to the cold, desolate Alaskan wilderness. A coming-of-age story of friendship, acceptance and survival, Mini Meg will probably have to hit middle school before I’ll share this one with her — because I remember the whole lonely, no-parents thing being a bit disturbing?

sarah_plain_tallSarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Unlike my sister, I was never into the Little House books; MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall was my first (and only) introduction to pioneer life as a kid, if you don’t count playing “Oregon Trail” on my dad’s old computer for hours!

The story of Sarah, who arrives from Maine to become the wife of widowed farmer Jacob, is sparse but moving and served, for me, as another great introduction to unconditional love. Caleb and Anna, Jacob’s children, could have served as stand-ins for any one of the other youngsters who read the book in my fourth grade class. I remember our unanimous stamp of approval!

Literary Megs, volume three

megans_islandWhen my sister and I were little, we would spend summers with our grandparents — hot, fun days filled with movies, games and, of course, reading! One of our favorite excursions was to the Super Crown or WaldenBooks in town, both of which are long gone now. And that’s where I remember picking up this little gem: Megan’s Island by Willo Davis Roberts, first published in 1990.

I grabbed it for obvious reasons — “Megan” is right there across the cover! — but I remember being sincerely freaked out by the story once I really got into it.

Here’s Amazon’s description:

Megan and her brother never thought about their tumbleweed life-style; Mother is on the go, always looking for a better job. But this time their mother packs them up without allowing Megan to tell her best friend. Megan and Sandy are worried; their mother seems frightened and tells them they’ll be “safe” with Grandfather in the lake country of Minnesota. Someone is looking for them, and though Grandfather doesn’t tell them everything, Megan is able to piece together the story. Years before, their father was jailed and Megan’s wealthy paternal grandfather tried to wrest Sandy and Megan from their mother.

A couple of bad guys show up, but they are foiled, leaving Megan and her family to sort out their problems and stop running at last. Appealing setting and engaging subplots add much to this entertaining, if somewhat predictable novel.

So our Megan here is at the heart of a big mystery and eventually takes a pretty active part in solving it all. I remember a lot of chasing scenes — imagery that left me feeling slight out-of-breath myself! I couldn’t tell you the ending to save my life, but I’m feeling (slightly) inspired to track this one down again and see. Anyone else come across this one in their travels?