In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, July 12, 2010

True love, picture book style

Dear Aunt Debbie,

Eleanor spent much of the day helping her cousins bake cookies for her Uncle Mice's wedding.  She has her own kid-sized apron, and has recently been fascinated with helping in the kitchen, especially when it has to do with baking.  Pretend Soup gets a good workout in our house, though the most-requested recipe in it is "Homemade Lemon-Lime Soda Pop."  Quesadillas are a big favorite too.

With all this wedding celebration, I've had love on my mind.  Two classic, slightly offbeat takes on true love keep recurring to me, both illustrated by Garth Williams. The first is a book I've mentioned once before: A Kiss for Little Bear.  It's the only one of the Little Bear books that contains a single story (the others each have four).  Little Bear makes a drawing for his grandmother, and asks Hen to take it to her.  Grandmother Bear loves the drawing, and asks Hen to take a kiss back to Little Bear.  But Hen wants to stop to chat, so she asks Frog to take the kiss.  The kiss is passed on until it reaches Little Skunk, who finds another little skunk, and they pass the kiss back and forth until Hen discovers them: "Too much kissing!"  The book ends with the skunks' wedding, and a fine picture of Little Bear as Best Man.

Else Holmelund Minarik's text is excellent, but what makes the book perfect are Williams's dry, funny illustrations.  The text: "Then Hen saw some friends.  She stopped to chat.  'Hello, Frog.  I have a kiss for Little Bear.  It is from his grandmother.  Will you take it to him, Frog?'  'Okay, said Frog.'"

The illustration:

And then there is the marvelous Home for a Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown.  It is a poem of a book, about the arrival of spring and one little bunny's search for a home.  The opening lines always crack me up:

"Spring, Spring, Spring!" sang the frog.
"Spring!" said the groundhog.
"Spring, Spring, Spring!" sang the robin.
It was Spring.

Amid all this Spring activity, a bunny is looking for a home.  He asks the robin, the frog, and the groundhog about moving into their homes (lots of great opportunities for different voices here: high-pitched for the robin, low for the frog -- "Wog, wog, wog" -- and grumpy for the groundhog).  Eventually, he meets another bunny, who has a home under a rock, under the ground, and it's a happy ending:

"Can I come in?" 
said the bunny.
"Yes," said the bunny.
And so he did.

Love, Annie

1 comment:

  1. These are so cute! I love both the illustrations, that last one of the bunnies is especially darling (found you on Kidlitosphere).