We haven’t reminisced in a couple of weeks. What say we remember the books we enjoyed long ago, either as children or as parents to our children, nieces or nephews?
I confess, I never did get the ever-popular Goodnight Moon. Oh, we had it—two copies—but I just didn’t get it. Still don’t. I’ve got nothing against Margaret Wise Brown, but The Runaway Bunny was more up my alley. I loved the images of the mother bunny convincing her baby that he’d never get away from her. When the baby bunny decided that running away was futile (because he had a stalker for a Mom, perhaps?), the book ended with the mother Bunny simply saying, “Have a carrot.”
My mother read to me a lot. One book I fondly remember being read to me was Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book. The words are typical Seuss – rhythmic and rhyming and clever enough, I suppose, which is fine because his illustrations stand on their own. He could draw a yawn, droopy eyelid or a happy head on a fluffy pillow so vividly that young readers such as I could barely stay awake to the end. I had forgotten how many of the illustrations I had remembered until I read the Sleep Book to my son. Even then I would nod off. In fact, I think I’ll move the copy I just dug up from the basement to my nightstand. You might want to do the same. Buy it if you have to; it’s better than Ambien.
Other children’s books I enjoyed reading to my son were Bill Martin, Jr.’s and Eric Carle’s Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (I hear a hippopotamus snorting in my ear) and Bears in the Night by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Do you know it? It’s not only extremely suspenseful but full of prepositions: Under the bridge, Around the lake, Between the rocks, Through the woods, Out of the window, Down the tree, Over the wall, Under the bridge, Around the lake, Between the rocks, Through the woods, Up Spook Hill! Whoooo!
Not surprisingly, my son and I, both shoe freaks, wore out our copy of Shoes by Elizabeth Winthrop. He called it “Shoes by Elizabeth Winthrop.”
My son had more children’s books than any child I know. While he bought two Shel Silversteins with his own money, his favorite was still Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman. Do you like my hat? I do not like that hat. Good bye. Good bye. If ever you thought children’s books could be appreciated at face value and not overanalyzed for hidden meanings, think again. Go to a website called Goodreads, scroll down to Community Reviews and see the existential side of Go, Dog, Go!
I’ll close with a ditty from another favorite, Ride a Purple Pelican by Jack Prelutsky, whose poetry is unparalleled, at least on the bookcase in our basement.
One day in Oklahoma on a dusty country road
I heard a handsome ermine serenade a rosy toad,
I saw a hungry rabbit munch on lettuce à la mode
One day in Oklahoma on a dusty country road.
I could go on and on but why don’t you join me? Favorite books? Favorite passages? Favorite memories of reading as a child? Was there one book you didn’t care for but your child always wanted to read?