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, January 19, 2014

Guest blogger: Ode to books

 Dear Annie,
I remain awestruck at Isabel's experience with graphic novels.  And thank you for your primer on the many ways a family can read graphic novels.

Our daughters have returned to their lives in California and Spain, and we've been doing a bit of post-Christmas clean-up around here.  Bob unearthed a wonderful artifact of our family's past: a poem he wrote for Christmas 1994, about our reading life.  Lizzie was almost five; Mona was three and a half.

The references are to books we'd read during that one year.  I've put in links to 75 different books; 50 of those links are to Annie and Aunt


Dear family: It has been a year
Since last we had a Christmas here,
With Santa's bounty strewn like pillows
Beneath the sacred armadillo.
Who knows what gifts this day will bring?
I don't – but there's at least one thing
I'm sure must lie beneath the tree:
Some books for you; some books for me.
That makes me happy, and it's leading
Me to think about the reading
We have done together. And
(If you'll forgive this bland
Attempt at rhyme) I'd like to write
Some verses of my own that might
Help overloaded brains remember
Books we loved in late December
Nineteen ninety four.  So here's
A Christmas list that says: Three cheers
Hurray for Ferdinand and Bambi,
Let us bark loud acclamation
Best wishes to Babar and Boris,
Walk into it and not
Be missed?  We'll never know.)
To Brave Irene, who trudged through snow;
Betsy and the doctor, too;
We read about all sorts of bravery –
And, occasionally, knavery,
From the henchmen of Cruella
To that rotten Nome King fella.
Look out, Peter!  Here comes Hook!
The captain's got a scary look,
But pirates can't beat Peter Pan.
(Growing up's the thing that can.)
We're going on a bear hunt.  We're
Not scared – unless the bear is here.
Speaking of bears: Pooh is a favorite
With his friends Eeyore and Piglet,
Rabbit with the too-small door,
Owl and Tigger (worra-worr),
Christopher Robin, Roo and Kanga;
In your honor, we shall hang a
Picture on each bedroom wall,
With thanks to Grandma from us all.
Down by the great Limpopo, one's been
Spotted with a crocodile.
And who's that beast all wreathed in smiles?
Why, Horton with his egg: It's hatching!
(Meanwhile, poor old Spinky's sulking.)
We've read of big and little fishes,
Searched with Galen for Delicious,
Mourned with Ardis at the lake,
Hopped on Pop (hope he won't break).
We've gobbled up green eggs and ham.
Eaten ice cream and clam chowder,
And we've told riddles, me and you,
Of copycats who end up swimming:
Catfish, as it were, not catwings.
The Cat in the Hat's been back this year
And Harry Cat has been a dear
Old friend to Chester.  Aren't friends grand?
Take Frog and Toad – they understand
Each other.  Mudge and Henry, too.
And George and Martha.  It is true
But they made up and took their chances
Being friends, not being careful.
Still, you'd better be bewareful
Of that nimble Fox: He's famous
For his tricks.  Now, why's George curious?
You can't mean it – you're not serious.
But don't imagine you'll convince me
That the yellow-hatted fellow
Tried to keep that monkey mellow
That's worthy of the Stupids.  Yet
It ended happily, this tale,
Holly and Ivy brought tears to eyes.
Grandfather Twilight had a surprise
In the form of pearls that turn to moons.
But who's left out?  This must end soon.
We should mention Max's breakfast vagaries;
Dr. Dolittle's menageries;
And think of a rhyme we can put London Bridge in.
Anna's new coat, the puddle goop
Into which jumped the piggie's mother;
And that makes me think of a strange kind of weather:
Cloudy, with meatballs soon to be showering;
A garden with secrets, soon to be flowering;
We could go, with our listing of Gollies
and penguins and Poppers and many more jolly
Good stories – like Paul Revere's horse, brave old Sherry,
And children who somehow made friends with a railway.
The carpet and phoenix should not be forgotten;
No more should Jemima, whose egg-luck was rotten.
What about Madeline?  Who do you think'll
Remember to ask: “What about Tiggywinkle?”
(That's “Mrs.” to you – we must be polite.)
Merry Christmas to all – and to all a good night!

Thanks to Bob for writing it, for saving it, and for having been there all along.


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