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.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dear Annie,

Here we are, back in our respective cities after Amazing Family Wedding #3.  It was great.  Good to see you.  Good to see your wonderful family.  Good to see our amazing extended family.  Now back to some form of regular posting at Annie and Aunt.

Somehow, even though they're not  related, Frog and Toad have such a close and cozy feel, it seems appropriate to talk about them after a family gathering.  I love "HEY BIRDS, HERE ARE COOKIES!"  But the one which comes up most often for me is a chapter called "The Corner," in
Frog and Toad All Year
.  Frog tells Toad a story from one winter in his childhood (tadpolehood?). His parents tell him spring is "just around the corner," so he sets out to find it, peering around several corners, only to be disappointed.  He returns home, coming around one final corner, and discovers his parents happily looking at a sprouting garden, because spring was actually around this final one.  And there are many situations in which one can say, "Spring is just around the corner."

I remember my sister, your mother, introducing us to
Mouse Tales
, also by Lobel, which is one of my faves.  The best story of the bunch is "The Journey," in which a mouse sets off to visit his mother.  He drives until his car falls apart, then finds someone selling roller skates, which he buys and rolls on.  When the roller skates fall apart, he finds a boot seller, and eventually he continues barefoot until his feet wear out.  Happily, someone is selling feet by the side of the road, he buys a pair, and makes it to Mom's house.  She's happy to see him, and says right away, "What nice new feet you have!"  It feels like the best of Lobel's wackiness.

I completely agree, though, that some of his stories are dark.  I sometimes wonder if he had depression issues.  Owl at Home is another multi-chapter short book, which includes a story about Owl (who lives alone) making "tear-water tea" by thinking of everything he can that's sad (like pencils that are too short to use) until he cries so much that he has enough tears for tea.  In another story, he's feeling lonely, so he calls up the stairs, then runs to the top of the staircase and calls back down the stairs.  This continues all day.  Although Owl is still endearing, after a few readings, Bob and I felt he was just too unhappy to keep in the rotation.

Lobel is no longer with us now -- he died at age 54 back in 1987.  His wife Anita Lobel, currently in her 70s,  is another wonderful children's book author and illustrator about whom I will write more on another day.  

I hope your re-entry into real life is going smoothly.



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