Anno’s Flea Market was my very favorite picture book as a child. As an adult, I have collected a couple more picture books by Mitsumasa Anno, and while they are all beautifully illustrated, none have taken the place of my precious copy of Anno’s Flea Market.
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links, which means if you buy after click on my links, I may receive a percentage of the sale. It doesn’t cost you more, but it helps us out. Thanks!
Anno’s Flea Market starts with a short prologue about the wonder of flea markets. It’s really more for the adult readers – my kids mostly skip past the introduction and head straight to the pictures. Other than the first and last page, this book is wordless. You see an elderly couple pushing a cart into Parisian flea market early in the morning, and then there are pages and pages of detailed illustrations of what a flea market is like. There are tables full of vegetables, Christmas ornaments, typewriters, antique farm equipment, false teeth, you name it. There is a puppet show (Punch and Judy, of course), a fortune-teller, someone selling hair potion, a strong man bound with chains he is about to break, a prince trying a glass slipper on a line of ladies, a pirate ship… As an adult, it is still fun to look through this book and see new things.
There are lots of cultural references in the illustrations. Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl are seen in the corner of one page (near the spinach, naturally); Kermit the frog is on another page; Beethoven is selling musical instruments, and the boy in Manet’s famous painting, “Boy Plays Flute” is close by (playing a flute, of course). The book ends with the elderly couple pushing the cart away from the flea market. There is a short epilogue about the wonders of the flea market.
I should caution parents that there are some questionable scenes for the very conservative. There is a woman trying on a dress and the man holding the mirror behind her has covered his eyes with his hand, but is peeking through. There is a fortune-teller, and a genie. Santa Claus and his elves make an appearance. Snow White is in a mirror and the witch is standing in front of the mirror with an apple. Probably the most questionable scene is on the pirate ship page. There is a topless mermaid figurehead, and a sailor is staring at her – pretty much at her breasts. Obviously, I’ve had no problem with my kids reading this book, but I wanted to point out that this book may not suit your family’s values.
That said, I really love this book! It stretches the imagination and there is something new to find every time you look through the illustrations. I can probably trace at least some of my love for thrift stores and antique markets to the many hours I spent poring over that book as a child. The boys liked this book, but Brontë, our 4 year old daughter, has definitely enjoyed it more than they did. It’s a great book for a quiet child who has a big imagination.
Here’s what Brontë and I had to say about Anno’s Flea Market:
Unfortunately, this book is out of print. You might find a copy of this book at your library, if you’re lucky. Your local bookstore might have trouble locating it. I did find it on Amazon in the “Used and New” section. Either way, if you are planning to shop on Amazon at all, please click on our link.
Anno’s Flea Market
It won’t cost you extra, but it will help us a little. Thanks so much!