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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

mutual memories.2

Dear Annie,

I'm back in DC, recreating the entry I wrote then lost on Sunday in Seattle.

Ah well, I knew I was pushing it with the The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.  I had hoped the repetition and suspense might grab.  I know what you're saying about the creepiness of McKean's drawings, although I think the startling differentness of them can engage an older child.

Your mentioning good old Odd and the Frost Giants made me realize that Odd and Wolves in the Walls have the same infrastructure.  Lucy in Wolves (or Odd in Frost Giants) is faced with family (gods) who have been summarily evicted from their homes by malevolent stronger beings.  The family (gods) dither, while Lucy (Odd), the youngest of the group, summons common sense and courage to regain the territory. 

original cover: 1902
We had a lovely small memorial service for Bob's mother on Saturday, and (unsurprisingly in this family) the subject of reading came up.  Bob's nephew Pete -- whom you may remember as the wonderful photographer at your brother's wedding last summer -- talked about reading Kipling with his grandparents.  Bob's dad read Pete the Just So Stories when he was a kid.  Pete remembers fondly returning again and again to one particular story, "The Elephant's Child."  Decades later, when his grandfather's health was failing, Pete sat by his bedside and read the story aloud to him.  At the service, Bob starting reciting the story's lilting line, "on the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees,"  and his brother, Pete, and several others chimed in.  Later, my brother Al said he and his daughter Ona exchanged glances on that one, then he recited the same line to me. 

It was a time for family and friends to share memories, of course.  But there's something so satisfying about sharing words written more than a century ago that have been savored by generations of two families.  Gifts given to children that go with them through life.



No comments:

Post a Comment