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Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "books"

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When life is busy and chaotic, settling in with a good book usually slows the world down and allows us to escape into imagination. When the book is a children’s story, we share the experience with another, whether we are reading to a child, or the child is reading to us. And when the book is about a topic near and dear to one’s own heart, the reading is all the more enjoyable.

There are many children’s books about the postal experience, and I have selected a few that are among my favorites.

Letters from Felix The first, Letters From Felix, by Annette Langen and Constanza Droop, features a lost teddy bear named Felix, who has great adventures as he tries to find his way back to his adoring human, Sophie. The book is not only a charming read, but also a visual delight. Felix writes letters to Sophie telling her where he is and what he sees at each location. And the book has the actual letters, in real envelopes! It is such fun to turn the page and find an actual letter your child can pull out and unfold and read. The letters always have an interesting tidbit about Felix’s current location and Sophie learns a little bit geography along the way.

The Day the Crayons Quit

In The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers, Duncan goes looking for his box of crayons only to find a stack of letters from the crayons. Each letter expresses a need, like more variety in life or maybe more respect. The red crayon wants to do more than just color hearts and fire trucks. Beige seeks to be more than just “light brown.” And pink, well pink is tired of being considered a “girl color.” Duncan takes the letters to heart and we get a very happy ending.

I Wrote You a Note by Lizi Boyd, Dear Panda by Miriam Latimer, Abuela’s Special Letters by Jacqueline Jules, and The Lonely Mailman by Susanna Isern, all tell stories about how letters connect us to the world around us in unexpected ways. The books are written for children but they will be enjoyed by anyone.

Mixed books Yours Sincerely, Giraffe

My favorite of all the books I read for this post is Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa. This is the tale of Giraffe, who wants to expand his horizons beyond his native Africa and decides to write to anyone who lives far away. Lucky for Giraffe that Pelican has just started a mail delivery service. As the story progresses we read about Giraffe’s concern about the letter arriving, and then his anticipation of what might be in the return post. Postcrossers will recognize those feelings! Giraffe’s letter ends up with Penguin, who lives in Antarctica. As the letter exchange continues, the fun begins. Imagine trying to describe something that your reader has never seen. Giraffe tells Penguin of his long neck. Penguin has no idea what a neck is, but with the help of Whale, they try to figure it out. The back and forth conversation via letters is both funny and thought provoking. And when Giraffe finally goes to visit Penguin, and decides to dress like what he imagines penguins look like… well, my grandchildren found it quite entertaining!

What are some of your favorite postally theme books for children? Tell us in the comments!

PS – A big thank you to postmuse, who patiently read all these books to her grandchildren and then wrote about them for our blog. 😊

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Have you ever seen a book about postcards without any images of the postcards themselves? That might sound strange at first, as one tends to associate postcards with pictures… but truth is, the written content of the postcards is often just as (or more!) interesting than the images they show.

Journalist Jan Carson spent the year of 2015 coming up with short stories for postcards that she sent to her friends and family, one per day. What might have started as a random observation or overheard conversation around her town of Belfast, quickly turn into stories on the back of each postcard, as imagination takes over. The result of this creative endeavour is now compiled in a book called Postcard Stories, where the mini-narratives are interspersed with beautiful illustrations by Benjamin Phillips.

Postcard Stories by Jan Carson

Each story send us on a journey to a parallel reality — sometimes surreal, sometimes puzzling, and often just funny. Here’s one of my favourites:

"January 22nd 2015 – Belfast International Airport, Aldergrove

A man in the line for Edinburgh has three inflatable worlds in a plastic bag. He is stopped at the departure gate by an easyJet representative.
“What have you got in the bag?” she asks. It is seven a.m., too early for lipstick, but she is wearing a thick gash of it: bloody red.
“Three worlds”, he replies, and removes them one at a time, clamping them between his feet, because the world is shaped like a soccer ball and inclined to roll if permitted to do so.
“One item of hand luggage only”, she states mechanically, already eyeing up the next offender.
The man proceeds to demonstrate how, with great determination and a little pressure, the world (and all those back-up worlds to come), can be deflated and contained within an overhead luggage locker."

Just picturing that scene put a big smile in my face, and I’m sure anyone who has ever flown on a low-cost airline can picture it as well. The book is filled with 52 such little stories, a collection of Jan’s imagination and mementos that would make any postcard lover happy.

Now if only we could make our handwriting as small as Jan’s and fit those many words on our postcards… perhaps she gives workshops? 😊

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Dear Data book

Early last year we mentioned a project called Dear Data, in which two ladies across the Atlantic exchanged drawn infographic postcards every week, detailing one specific aspect of their lives. Things such as complaints they uttered or compliments they’ve received, or even very specific things like animals they saw or doors they went through were all counted and sketched into white postcards, and then posted to each other. They kept it up for a whole year, collecting data and turning the experiment into a weekly ritual of discovery.

The project was so popular that it didn’t surprise me to discover it was edited in a book format recently, and I think it’s even better to browse the postcards this way, in an analogue format equivalent to that in which they came to life.

The postcard images remain intriguing and unreadable at first glance, inviting further investigation in order to decode them. The legends on the back though are super detailed and often contain several layers of information to add to their complexity… it’s astonishing to realize how much data they must have collected over the year!

Dear Data - laughter week

The pages in-between postcards are also funny and often provide insights or little anecdotes into Stefanie and Georgia’s lives… like how they both discovered their love for Haribo gummy bears on week 17!

Slowly, throughout the book, you also realise how a conversation is happening between the designers through their correspondence, how they’re getting to know each other and thinking a bit more about their lives through the analysis that is taking place in real time.

All in all, Dear Data is a remarkable book, inspiring us to slow down and really observe what is happening all around… and then grab our pens to put all these interesting details into our postcards!

Spending time with data

PS – Sadly, it’s also very noticeable on the book how badly US machines treat their outbound mail… Why, USPS, why?! 😠

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Remember the World’s Smallest Postal Service (and their fantastic DIY activity kit) which we mentioned here on the blog some years ago?

Lea Redmond and her company have been busy creating lovely new things in the meantime, and we’re here to tell you all about one of their more recent ventures — a book of letters which you write to yourself, to read in the future! 😍

Letters to my Future Self

The “Letters to My…” are a series of themed books, each containing 12 paper time capsules (which are a set of 12 aerogrammes bound together in a hard cover). There are several themes to choose from, from letters to your “older and wiser” self, to your baby, mom or dad, grandchild, the bride

On the Letters to My Future Self for instance, each letter features a prompt such as “things you never want to forget” or “promises you made to yourself”. As inspiration strikes, you write down these memories or pieces of advice on a letter, which you then seal with a special sticker and save for when the right time comes. We’ll let Lea show you how it works:

Each aerogramme is beautifully designed and the thoughtful prompts encourage us to sit down with our thoughts and plans for a little while, inviting reflection and appreciation.

We’re truly enamoured with this simple yet genius idea. Wouldn’t they make perfect gifts for snail mail lovers? We think so too, which is why we’re super excited that Lea’s company Leafcutter Designs shared some of these with us — so we can share them with you guys!

We have 2 copies of Letters to My Future Self to give to two lucky postcrossers who answer the following question in the comments: If you could write one short piece of advice to your future self right now, what would you tell yourself?

Letters to my Future Self

Good luck everyone — remember to check back on this post around this time next week, to know whether your name was picked by Paulo’s random number generator. And a big thank you to our generous friends at Leafcutter Designs, for sponsoring this giveaway! 😊

And the winners, as chosen by Paulo’s random number generator are… otegami and ravioli22! Hurray! Thank you everyone for all your interesting comments and precious words of advice!

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Guy Atkins has been collecting postcards for years, especially from the Edwardian era. This was the golden period of postcards, which were then at the height of their popularity. With up to 6 daily mail deliveries (imagine that!), many people used them as we use Twitter or text messages these days — just to say “I’m thinking about you” or to convey some practical information (“I’ll arrive on the 10am train”).

It’s not so much the pictures on the postcards that capture Guy’s curiosity — instead he prefers the fascinating messages they hold. It all started when he was browsing an antiques market in London, where he found a perfectly boring postcard, sent on 21 December 1904 to Miss Emerson… which hid a very intriguing message. It said:

“Come home at once, all is forgiven. We have not had any news from father. There is heaps of m – – – y waiting for you to spend. Surely after that you could not stay away.”

One cannot help but wonder… what happened? What did Miss Emerson do that needed forgiving? And did she stay away or go back home?

I guess we’ll never know. And yet, the thrill of that mysterious message stays with us, and it stayed with Guy as well, who decided to collect other such intriguing postcards from that time. He has just launched a book with 100 of his best cards, appropriately titled Come Home at Once. Come Home at Once

We’ve had this book for a week or so, and I have to say, it is delightful. Perfectly sized, filled with mysterious messages that just draw you in and make you wonder. Some are funny, others shocking, some just confounding. Many don’t seem to say much at all… until you note the strategically positioning of the stamp, hiding a whole other layer of meaning. Some… well, we’re still trying to figure them out!

Come Home at Once

In order to promote his new book, Guy and his publisher have generously offered to give away 10 copies of the book to 10 lucky postcrossers! It’s like an early Christmas treat! :)

For a chance to win one, all you have to do is leave a comment below. And if you have any tips on how one could make the message on a postcard more intriguing, do share!

Good luck everyone! Check back on this post around this time next week for the winners (randomly picked by Paulo’s number generator, as usual).

And the lucky postcrossers, as chosen by Paulo’s random number generator are… ludovico, Marie_S, foxfires, Shelleh, Kami-chan, librarymail, Huari, EngelDD, BLehner and vilnius. Congratulations to the winners and thank you everyone for the comments! What an outpour! :)

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