July 2nd, 2002

you think you know...

picture books

Our house still hasn’t heated up too uncomfortably, so i have been at home all day, attempting to do productive things like write letters. I’ve been moderately successful, though there must have been an upswelling of heat and humidity or something around 1, because i started feeling tired and dizzy and had to take a nap. I had ice cream and fruit salad afterward, though, and am now nursing a bottle of water.

Britta’s post (and the subsequent replies) got me thinking about children’s books. I don’t remember too many from my childhood, though i know i read thousands. I can remember a lot of the chapter books -- many of which i still have -- but for picture books it’s a different story.

I’m trying to compile a list. I feel a little like i’m cheating, because some of them are ones i discovered as a teenager and they’re really more sophisticated than your basic Goodnight Moon (which is a wonderful book, don’t get me wrong). I should reread the picture books we still have (like The Story About Ping). It’s interesting; some stuff i remember from my childhood i go back to and don’t like anymore (like The Giving Tree, actually), but other stuff i still adore.

So here’s an off-the-top-of-my-head list of favorite picture books:

  • The Blue Faience Hippopotamus (Joan Marshall Grant)
  • The Goodnight Circle (Carolyn Lesser)
  • Horton Hatches The Egg (Dr. Seuss)
  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go (Dr. Seuss)
  • Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters (John Steptoe)
  • Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter (Diane Stanley)
  • these 2 beautiful wordless books the names of which i can't think of for the life of me though i would swear they are in my bookcase somewhere -- one is the girl getting ready for bed, she has a bath with a boat whose sail is a napkin, and the other one is the same girl getting ready for school, and her mommy is sleepy like my mommy and she has this rag doll that she has to leave at home. They're probably from the 80s. They're odd shaped books, much longer than they are tall. I think they just had one word titles, like "Evening" and "Morning" or something. Amazon was not helpful. Must scour bookcases. [edit: I broke down and looked through amazon's 212 item list of "morning" children's books. #137 was an out-of-print hardcover, Sunrise. I think that's the morning book, though i'm still not sure what the nighttime book is titled. I hate when wonderful books like that (and The Blue Faience Hippopotamus and The Goodnight Circle are out of print.)]
  • Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown)

And of course when i was on amazon looking up who the authors to all these were, i saw lots of books i couldn’t believe i’d forgotten

  • Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson)
  • If You Give a Pig a Pancake (Laura Numeroff)
  • The Little Engine That Could (Watty Piper)
  • The Story of Ferdinand (Munroe Leaf)
  • The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams)
  • a boxed set of 4 small Maurice Sendak books (The Nutshell Library) i still have on my bookcase: Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months, Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue, One Was Johnny: A Counting Book, Alligators All Around: An Alphabet
  • Make Way For Ducklings

and lots of books i should reread because i remember loving them but i can’t remember them well enough to know if i would still like them

  • The Runaway Bunny (Margaret Wise Brown)
  • Perfect the Pig (Susan Jeschke)
  • Harry the Dirty Dog (Gene Zion)
  • Are You My Mother? (P. D. Eastman
  • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Judi Barrett)
  • Corduroy (Don Freeman)

Library errands tonight now definitely include much picture-book-ing.

And i need to ask the children’s department about a book. We got it out from Norwood, i know we did. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it, though. It’s a picture book, and all i remember is there’s this bit where the narrator says “And then the great baby... ME... arrived!” and there’s this picture of a little boy in a cowboy hat and spurs and a diaper nearly leaping off the page. It’s terribly cute, and i really want to find it again.
you think you know...

Today = not miserable.

I got an early birthday present from my friend Kevin. A pair of earrings he made for me. Pretty dangly earrings. Red and navy. Not really my colors, but i appreciate the thought, and the card was lovely. (And yes, in case anyone’s wondering, i turn 19 one week from today, on July 9. Gifts and cards are always welcomed, though hardly expected.)

I headed out around four-thirty when i started feeling uncomfortably warm in my house. I passed this guy (who was waiting for the bus) on my way to the post office. He said i was pretty and asked if i had a boyfriend. I said no, but when he asked if there was any way he could get in touch with me i gently said, “I don’t think so.” He seemed nice, but he was also very much older than me, and i am not about to give my phone number or anything to a complete stranger i have any sort of weird feelings about. (It reminded me of the handsome young black guy who asked me for my screenname at Job Lot last spring, though. I’m kinda sorry i didn’t give it to him, ‘cause he was cute and there’s such a safe distance with AIM. Oh well.) It’s kinda neat to be hit on, though, especially when i’m just out on a hot day in average clothes with my hair (which i consider to be one of my better features) pulled back.

Semi-relatedly, the sketchy guy who checks out all these teen magazines and Vogue and such (he seems mildly retarded, and we definitely think they’re like soft-core porn for him; and there was a staff note today that i didn’t get to ask about that said he’s been making weird phone calls to the children’s department) and stuff from the library is named Richard. But Joe, it’s a different one. I have now decided that no one else is allowed to be named Richard, except other sketchy guys, because it’s just too much.

Beth said i need a hobby. Apparently she tells her kids this, too. They’re both college-age as well, so i’m sure their responses are similar to mine -- “Because i don’t have enough to do already, right?” “So I was thinking,” she tells me. Now, she is a very busy woman, so it amuses me that she feels this is important enough to think about. “I think you should take up a musical instrument. Or drama. And if I think of anything more specific I’ll let you know.” “This is like high school,” i said. “I played a musical instrument for nine years. I did drama.” I honestly appreciate her concern, it just makes me laugh. I work twenty hours a week, i’m taking three weeks vacation, and i need a hobby. I didn’t mention the fact that i live online, that i really should be getting back into fiction/poetry writing, that i miss zining, that i have a backlog of letters, that i have boxes of stuff to go through, that i have friends i keep meaning to get in touch with. I don’t think i exactly need a “hobby.”

A lot of the picture books i wanted to read were out, so tonight i mostly read ones we own. Yay picture books. *restrains self from boring readers with complete list* Rereading The Story About Ping, though, i realized that’s where my family’s habit of adding “and 42 cousins” to any long litany of people comes from. (The book opens: Once upon a time there was a beautiful young duck named Ping. Ping lived with his mother and his father and two sisters and three brothers and eleven aunts and seven uncles and forty-two cousins.) I think the picture books i continue to cherish from my childhood are mostly bittersweet, or at least full of emotional intensity. My mother tells me that when they read me The Legend of the Bluebonnet (Tomie DePaola) they bawled. I have reread it since, and it doesn’t make me cry, and that makes me a little sad. When i move into my first house/apartment, i think the first thing i want is a set of all the picture books i cherish from my childhood. I may never have a Phyllis house, but i want that for myself even if for no one else.

Apparently i already have a full day of plans tomorrow. Go to the library in the morning (return lots of items and check out more picture books) and then go visit with my grandma until my brother gets off work (at which point he’ll come visit because, hey, air-conditioning). And then George and i and his friend Brian and probably one of our parents are going to the fireworks in Walpole. (I still haven’t made up my mind as to whether i want to go with my mom and brother to the uber-security fireworks in Boston on the Fourth. I guess i should go and i’ll just skip out early if it looks like crowd+security=misery. Beth says i should go so i can report back to her--i guess she’s never been to see the Esplanade fireworks in person.)

My brother’s been downloading patriotic screensavers and desktops and so on, and one of the things he downloaded was an animation. “America the Beautiful” (quite possibly my favorite “patriotic” song) plays in the background as images of memorials all over the world pass before your eyes. I recognized the floral displays and such from a site my dad had sent me shortly after 9-11. They’re mostly from American Embassies. They’re shows of support and sympathy for all those innocents killed, all those lives irrevocably shattered, on September 11th. My dad sent me this in an e-mail with the subject line “Okay, my eyes started misting.” and while i did like some of the lines near the end, i wasn’t really touched by it. This animation, though, did touch me. We all know i have issues with patriotism and war and such, but united support for victims of tragedy, that touches me.