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, October 31, 2010

The allure of emergency

Dear Annie,

Bob and I gave blood today.  It took a while, and there was a messy moment when a donor and the man with needle weren't entirely coordinated, but one still feels good having given. 

All that blood, though, made us think of a book whose popularity in our house always mystified us.  It's called Stitches, by Harriet Ziefert, and is, alas, currently out of print.  It's an early reader which we used as a picture book read-aloud.  It tells the story of Jon, a slightly excitable boy, who falls off his bike, cuts his head ("I fell!  I fell!/There's blood!  There's blood!"), and goes to the doctor to get stitches.  Each step is explained, and at the end he's home being visited by his friends.

This book fascinated both the girls when they were around 4 and 5, before either one had her own experience with being sewn up.  I remember reading it over and over.  The kid is so full of hurt and worry and exclamation points, yet the injury is so contained: just a few stitches, done at the doctor's office.  I think it gave them a little vicarious catastrophe, enough to make the heart beat a little faster. It expanded their horizons of the possibility of damage, without their having to go through it.  I know that in the past I've encouraged parents to try to avoid books they don't like, and this one could certainly have fit in that category.  But it was so apparent that this little story was hitting a nerve in their growing psyches -- the fascination definitely outweighed the lack of literary merit.

I hope you had a good birthday, and Happy Halloween.



1 comment:

  1. This is a great book we read loud in exactly the same way. It is just the right thing to let kids know that owies can be fixed--and they will be fine. Great prep for the first visit to the ER.