Children's books floor me. The well-written ones, that is. Boy, are there some crap kid's books out there. But the good ones--they're like magic. They seem so simple and effortless, and yet they're such a pleasure to read out loud. Damn it, I wish I could do that.
I love some of Henry's books more than he does. And even now that he's (maybe) outgrown these, I will be keeping them. Forever and ever.
Hondo and Fabian
Hondo is the dog. Fabian is the cat. Hondo goes to the beach. Fabian stays home.
I not only want Hondo and Fabian to be my dog and my cat, I want to live in this world. Look how peaceful it is! Nothing bad ever happens in Hondo and Fabian's home. You can tell. There is always tidiness and order and turkey sandwiches.
I bought Hondo and Fabian when I was pregnant with Henry. One look at the pictures, and I was hooked. We read it together pretty much from the time he was born, and even though it's way too babyish for him now, he'll still deign to let me read it to him, if only to humor me. He is a patient and understanding boy. While I'm reading it I try not to cry into his hair.
Cars and Trucks and Things that Go
All the Richard Scarry books are so charming and magical and witty, but I especially love this book. It's like ten books in one. Henry has loved it since he could sit up, and he'll still spend an afternoon flipping through it, when he thinks I'm not looking. It's incredibly weird, like all excellent children's books are.
Ferdinand is a gentle bull. He doesn't want to fight in the bullring, like all the other young bulls do. All he wants is "to sit just quietly and smell the flowers."
I love that "just." The first thing I was told in my first writing class was to remove the word "just" from all of my stories, but that is one hell of a perfect "just."
And check out this line [the italics are my own]: "His mother saw that he was not lonesome, and because she was an understanding mother, even though she was a cow, she let him just sit there and be happy."
Even though she was a cow. Come ON.
Also, is she not the best mom ever? I wish I could be as sanguine about my kid when he refuses any and all opportunities to get some fresh air. She leaves him alone, and Ferdinand ends up being happy and content with himself! Some of the best children's books are also excellent parenting guides.
Toot and Puddle
There are a bunch of Toot and Puddle books, but I'm partial to the first, which was gifted to Henry by my friend Lexie. (I've also heard that there's a Toot and Puddle cartoon, but I have never seen it and hope to never have to. Don't ruin the Toot and Puddle who live in my head! Yes, they live in my head! Don't judge me!)
The watercolor illustrations are stunning. And I never stopped snickering at the name "Woodcock Pocket," because I am a child. Also, what is this relationship between Toot and Puddle? They've got some kind of Boston marriage going on, here. And yes, I realize that's a term reserved for two women, but you tell me what you'd call this Bert-and-Ernie living situation going on between two pigs. You tell me!
So! I'm sure you have some favorites, too. And now you're going to share them with me and the rest of us. Yes, you are. Go on.