RE: books for snowy days

The camera is currently choc full of photos of Beatrix enjoying her new shell pool, and frustratingly I can’t actually get them onto the computer right now because my digital camera batteries are dead and I can’t find the goddamn charger. So, rather than let the blog go stale (seriously, if I stop posting I’ll probably forget it exists…) I thought I’d respond to Amanda’s post about Clementine’s favourite books by posting some of our faves.

The Sneetches And Other Stories; by Dr. Seuss

I could go on forever listing all the Dr Seuss books we love, but I’m gonna limit it. The basic plot: about a civilisation of birds who either have bellies with stars, or “none upon thars”, which, causes tension and superiority among the Sneetches. Some jerk-face (God, you can tell I’m tired…) comes and convinces them all to change themselves by removing and adding stars so many times until nobody recognises themselves anymore, and it emerges that the lesson we learn is that we’re all equal. Aww. My personal favourite in the book is “Too Many Daves” — about a woman with 23 sons named Dave. The upside to this story is there’s multiple amusing names she “should” have named her sons, (“Soggy Muff” being one that makes both Ross and I giggle beyond belief) and another upside, it only lasts two pages for the reading weary. It’s all really standard awesomeness, as all Seuss books are. Bea asks for this one again and again — “NEE! NEE!” — but rarely pays attention to the entirety of the story as it is rather long winded and touchy-feely. That never stops her from wanting it again immediately afterward.

The Sleep Book; by Dr Seuss

Yes, the accompanying image is in Hebrew, but you get the drift. Our new bedtime book, thanks to raiding the Dr Seuss collection at Daddy’s house. Travels around the world counting how many people (I use the term “people” loosely, we have bugs and various Seuss creatures here) are going to sleep in various ways and places. Good for making Miss Bea tired, because it’s bloody long.

Thidwick The Big Hearted Moose; by Dr Seuss

That’s right, I’m pimping the Doc. Without scouring the bookstore for hours trying to find something interesting and one-off, he’s the only author who writes books with awesome artwork that I know are going to be witty, and that aren’t going to bore me to tears when I read it for the 500th time to Beatrix. This one is a long one, but a fave of mine. Thidwick lets, one by one, a series of forest animals live on his antlers, whilst getting very tired from carrying their weight. He gets hounded by some hunters and is close to being killed because he’s too polite to tell everyone to.. well, fuck off. Thankfully, he sheds his antlers just in time, and the hunters kill and stuff the irritating squirrels, birds and critters living in his old antlers instead. Nice. I like the message of not letting yourself be a doormat, despite the horrendous ending. I think this is a fairly old Dr Seuss book, probably not so common because its fairly awful. I found this in an old bookstore bargain bin for 50 cents when I was pregnant. Total score, because I haven’t seen it in any bookstores since.

Olivia Counts; by Ian Falconer

Your standard counting book, just with awesome drawings. I always browsed through the Olivia books when I was pregnant and thought they were cute, and my cousin (yes, you, I know you’re reading!) bought this for Bea’s first birthday. This book has successfully taught Bea to recognise numbers when we’re out and about, and count up to 10 when prompted, even if a little garbled, with “TEN!” always screamed loudly, clearly and victoriously at the end.

Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox

The quest to find the elusive green sheep, meeting lots of other ones on the way – the swing sheep, the slide sheep, the thin sheep, the wide sheep. Bea gets hugely excited when the train full of farm animals comes along in this book, and any opportunity to scream “BAA!” is always great. She also really enjoys repetition to the point of nauseam, I think that’s why she’s taken a sudden liking to this book. I think, unless I’m mistaken, that Mem Fox wrote a lot of books I had as a kid (Possum Magic maybe?) and I just like the artwork n shiz.

The Sesame Street Library Collection
(and The Sesame Street Treasury Collection)

My brother Josh had these as a kid in the Seventies, and he adored them. And then I had them as a kid in the Nineties, and I adored them. Sadly, over the years we only managed to keep 2 from the Library collection and 1 from the Treasury, and when Bea fell into her muppet obsession, I knew I had to get some more. GO eBay! I didn’t manage to get the complete Library set, (somehow everyone’s lost at least 1 or 2 books) but now Bea has them as a kid in the Naughties, and SHE adores them. She won’t let anyone read them to her, but scours over them and points to all her favourite characters and shapes, numbers, letters. These are really great rainy day books because they’re full of stories, games, crafts, activities and recipes — yes, cookies…

Where The Wild Things Are; by Maurice Sendak

Everyone knows this book, and if you don’t you’re deranged or possibly only 2 years old. I fear by the time Bea is big enough to really start enjoying this book that the upcoming film of the same title will have tainted the entire experience with shoddy merchandise and bad acting. Nevertheless, an awesome book by a truly fantastic artist.

Big Anthony and The Magic Ring; by Tomie dePaola

My father worked for Ashton Scholastic Publishing when I was a child, so he often brought books home from work for me. I do believe this was one of them. This is more a favourite of mine than Bea’s (she’s probably still too little to find it interesting) but it’s about a dorky farmhand (Big Anthony, who works for Strega Nona, aka Grandma Witch) who borrows a magic ring in order to be young and handsome and enjoy a little “night life”. This backfires when the ladies find him irresistible. It’s a fairly odd story with no particular morals (except, perhaps, be honest and enjoy being unattractive…) but I love it all the same.

Dinotopia; by James Gurney

A man and his son are shipwrecked on a tiny island surrounded by a dangerous reef that makes escape impossible. After being found by a local who takes them back to her egg hatchery, they discover that it is indeed an egg hatchery for dinosaurs, and that the dinosaurs on the island are treated equal to the humans – they go to school together, talk with one another, and live in a society of peace. Another book Beatrix is still too little for, but possibly with the most beautiful drawings ever. I love books that have entire worlds, maps and languages that completely engulf you. I can’t wait to be a huge nerd and teach her how to read and write in the paw-print alphabet. This was my favourite book as a child.

Animals Should Definitely NOT Wear Clothing; by Ron and Judi Barrett

We don’t actually own this one yet, but it has been read multiple times on “Play School” and both Bea and I think it’s fantastic. Pictures of animals wearing clothes show why this would be a ridiculous custom for them to adopt.

The Paper Bag Princess; by Robert Munsch

Another book my dad passed on to me as a kid. Snobby Prince Ronald is kidnapped by a dragon who burns the palace down and leaves Princess Elizabeth without any clothing. She dons a paper bag as a dress and sets out to rescue him through a series of cunning tricks leaving the dragon exhausted. The best part about this book is that Elizabeth decides that Ronald is a jerk-wad and goes off to be alone, and that’s the happily-ever-after.

Elmer; by David McKee

About a bright patchwork elephant who wants to be grey like all the others. Cute drawings, and as always, another of my books showing we’re all equal and that we’re great because we’re different. I didn’t actually know this book existed until Bea got it as a hand-me-down through her daddy’s cousins. Apparently it has a huge fan base and merchandise following — I found Elmer curtains the other day and was most excited.

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

Eastman is the shiz. I went on a 5 week bookstore ransacking to find this one, and that effort has not gone to waste. Currently Beatrix’s favourite book, read at least 4 times a day. About a little bird who cracks out of his egg to find his mother gone, and goes on a quest to find her, meeting along the way multiple farm animals (which gives us the chance to do sounds) to which he asks “Are you my mother?” A really, really cute book, and awesome for learning words through repetition, as most of the books in the Dr Seuss’ Beginner Books Collection are. Another favourite is;

Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman

“The sun is up.
The sun is yellow.
The yellow sun is over the house.”
We actually had to hide this book under the couch because Bea would cry when it was over, and I once read it 12 times in one sitting at 3 A.M. and couldn’t handle it anymore. We found it when Dad moved out and took the couch, and have been cursing it ever since. If anyone reads it to her now, I can recite the entire book line for line, three rooms away. This book is based on a 75 word vocabulary, so the same words are used over and over to get the child to recognise them, and Beatrix is starting to catch on when I point to a word. It’s fairly draining because it IS so repetitive and goes for so many pages, but its so nice to see a kid get so much pleasure from learning that I haven’t hid it again yet.

Knuffle Bunny, A Cautionary Tale; by Mo Willems

Finally, a wishlist item. I haven’t been able to find this book and I really want it. Apparently it’s a whole load of B&W photographs of Brooklyn, with cartoons drawn over the top. Awesome. From; “Trixie and Knuffle Bunny’s trip to the laundromat with Dad goes terribly wrong when Trixie realizes some bunny’s been left behind…! Her attempts to alert Dad all the way home are unsuccessful, until Mum points out that Knuffle Bunny is missing and the family hotfoot it back to the laundromat.” I want this because a) Mo Willems is awesome, and b) the main character is called Trixie, and there won’t be many times in Beatrix’s life where something has the same name as her (besides the countless Beatrix Potter books we have…) and c) I want to alert Beatrix to that fact that dragging beloved Blankie through the shopping mall isn’t the greatest idea if we don’t have a spare….

Ooh, this was actually fun. Stay tuned for further mindnumbing lists, including awesome albums Bea loves and brilliant t-shirts she owns…..