Archive for February 21st, 2005

Picture Book Spotlight: It’s Not My Turn to Look for Grandma

February 21, 2005 @ 11:45 pm | Filed under: ,

It’s Not My Turn to Look for Grandma by April Halprin Wayland, illustrated by George Booth.

Dawn was just cracking over the hills. Ma was splitting kindling on the back porch.

“Woolie!” she called out. “Where in the hickory stick is Grandma?”

“Dunno,” said Woolie. “It’s not my turn to look for Grandma!”

I’ve been reading this book to my kids for eight or nine years, and it still makes us all giggle. April Halprin Wayland (author of another of our family favorites, the quiet and lovely To Rabbittown), depicts this quirky backwoods family with wit and warmth, and George Booth’s illustrations are a hoot. Ma, a hardworking backwoods mother, needs Grandma’s help and keeps sending the kids to fetch her—but Grandma’s too busy sliding down the haystack with her dirty old dog, or doing something similarly outlandish. She’s never too busy, however, for a banjo band…

The rollicking text is a joy to read aloud. The writing is fresh and lively, and the characters are pure originals—especially that dirty old dog and a pair of disreputable porcupines. George Booth’s art, which would be hilarious even without the words, captures them perfectly. If I had to narrow down our picture book collection to ten titles (horrific thought!), this one would make the cut for its never-fail ability to invoke the belly-laughs I love.

For more picture-book recommendations, visit my Booknotes page.

Those Stubborn Bunnies

February 21, 2005 @ 8:25 am | Filed under: ,

One of my favorite things about motherhood is the way my kids force me outside the box of my own head. I like to collect the little moments when their startling pronouncements on life, the universe, and everything jolt me out of my sedate, grown-up patterns of thought and make me reassess my perceptions. Like these:

Jane was five years old and we were at a conference where I had a speaking engagement. At one point, a friend’s teenaged daughter took her to the drinking fountain. She later related this story to her mother, who passed it on to me.

Apparently young Jane was delighted by the arc of the water as it came out of the spout. “Look, I’m drinking a rainbow!” she cried.

Then she took a drink, paused, and added thoughtfully, “That’s funny, I always thought rainbows would be crunchy.”

Beanie was two years old, and I was reading her Dr. Seuss’s There’s a Wocket in my Pocket for the first time.

“Did you ever have the feeling,” I read, “there’s a wasket in your basket?” Bean burst out laughing.

“A wasket in my basket! Dat’s funny.” I continued: “…Or a nureau in your bureau?” Another enormous belly-laugh.

“A nureau in my bureau! Dat’s weally funny!”

By this time I was laughing too. I went on, “…Or a woset in your closet?”

This time, no laugh. She looked puzzled.

“Huh,” she grunted. “A woset in your closet. Dat’s not funny.”

When Rose was two-going-on-three, a friend gave us a “Bunny Bowling Set.” The bowling balls were little plastic cabbages with which you attempted to knock down plastic rabbit-shaped pins. Jane set the game up and played it for a while, then wandered off. I was in the next room, fixing dinner, and heard Rose playing with the game. But she sounded frustrated. I kept hearing her knock the bunnies over with the ball, and then she’d cry out in dismay.

Finally she hollered, “Mommy! It no WORK!” I went to watch her try again. She rolled the cabbage and knocked down half the bunnies.

I cheered. “There you go! You’ve got the hang of it now.”

She looked at me incredulously. “No! It no work,” she said, through gritted teeth.

“Sure it worked!” I said. “Look how many bunnies you hit.”

Her glare was steely with pity and forced patience.

“It—no—work,” she repeated, slowly, as if she were the adult and I the child. “Bunny won’t catch cabbage!”