Monday, October 04, 2010

Amanda, on books for tiniest littles

Other parents-to-be get excited about buying tiny clothes or wooden toys or colourful nursery decorations for their little people and those things have tickled me intermittently, but books have been tickling us constantly since the first moment we sat down together on the floor of a children's book shop and started pulling things off every shelf.

Sitting there in a pile of books for children of every age we became completely overwhelmed. We put back every book and left the shop empty handed. As the door swung shut behind us I turned to N and said in a slightly broken voice "maybe we should ask Amanda what to buy?"

And so we did.

Amanda is a writer of poetry, a seer of wonder, an adventurer of adventures and a whisperer of children and here, in the first of a series of
guest posts, is what she has to say about books for little people.....

This is how it is for me: Of all the books, I am most fond of those written for children. It has been this way from the very beginning, and I have begun to suspect that it will be this way until the end as well. I spend a lot of time thinking about childhood and about witches and bears, and I believe that the stories must be told; we are set free so early by words and their sounds and meanings, by tales of mortals, voyages, wings feathered and waxed.

By no means exhaustive, what follows is a small collection of what I very humbly (if superlatively) consider to be the Best Books, and what I would recommend for Peonies in particular--for her sweet and clever and aesthetically discerning family. Beware that some solid contenders have been excluded; it is clear, for instance, that Peonies and her Boy and Rabbit will inundate their girls with the tales of Edward Bear, and I’m sure we’re all well aware that Eloise the City Child and Paddington from Darkest Peru cannot help but invite themselves into the lives of children who need them.

At the end of a day with small children, it has often been a long day even if it hasn’t. At the end of a day with small children, each of us needs stories to bring us home, send us off. If I were choosing books at the end of such a day, exhausted, and if children I love had been soaped and dried and jammied and if everyone had the wriggles and if there was a cool breeze and a warm duvet, these are the books I would choose. They are just-up-from-a-nap, bring-me-a-book reads; let’s-lie-in-our-fort-with-a-flashlight reads; goodnight, sleep tight reads. They are some of the best books I know.

So. Three small collections to be pulled off the shelves, with any luck by the sticky-fingered among us: for the very small, for littles, and for the slightly bigger too. I hope you will enjoy them.

For the Very Small

Dogs and apples, tigers, mush.

Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown/Clement Hurd

In the great green room there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon.

The Big Red Barn, Margaret Wise Brown/Felicia Bond

By the big red barn in the great green field, there was a pink pig who was learning to squeal.

The Important Book, Margaret Wise Brown/Leonard Weisgard

The important thing about rain is that it is wet. It falls out of the sky, and it sounds like rain, and makes things shiny, and it does not taste like anything, and is the color of air. But the important thing about rain is that it is wet.

Two Little Trains, Margaret Wise Brown/Leo and Diane Dillon

Two little trains went down the track, Two little trains went West.

Puff, Puff, Puff and Chug, Chug, Chug, Two little trains to the West.

Little Cloud, Eric Carle

In which we learn that some clouds need more attention than other clouds.

Go, Dog. Go!, P.D. Eastman

In which very many dogs do very many things. Some of them go. Others do not.

The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats

He walked with his toes pointed out, like this:

A Family of Poems, Caroline Kennedy (editor)/Jon J. Muth

For beginning children on poetry before anyone can ruin it for them; Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams sing beside Dylan Thomas and Ogden Nash.

Pat the Bunny, Dorothy Kunhardt

In which the reader regards a handsome rabbit with solemnity. Sometimes the rabbit deigns to be patted. Sometimes he does not.

A Hole is to Dig, Ruth Krauss/Maurice Sendak

Mashed potatoes are to give everybody enough A face is so you can make faces Dogs are to kiss people

It Looked Like Spilt Milk, Charles G. Shaw

Sometimes it looked like spilt milk. But it wasn’t spilt milk.

Sometimes it looked like a rabbit. But it wasn’t a rabbit.

Chicken Soup With Rice, Maurice Sendak

The reader is introduced to the seasonal joys of chicken soup with rice.

In the Night Kitchen, Maurice Sendak

Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! We bake cake! And nothing’s the matter!

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business, Esphyr Slobodkina

In which we learn one of life’s most important lessons: When up against monkeys, it is helpful to lose one’s temper almost immediately. Also, it is unwise to nap beneath monkey-infested trees.

A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

A Tree Is Nice, Janice May Udry/Marc Simont

A tree is nice because it has a trunk and limbs.

Piggies, Audrey Wood/Don Wood

Various piggies are portrayed. We sometimes wonder why these piggies are drawn as fingers and not as toes. Other times we do not.

* first image from Lola's Room
* second image by Rakuyn
* third image by Simple Tess