Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This Week's Books

I go to the library twice a week and though my local branch is miniscule it is a warm, dry haven on wintry west coast days when the kids and I get cabin fever and we're fed up with being only family at the park. Each week I take out a dozen or so kids books to keep our reading options fresh. My older son (not yet two years old) and I both look forward to the the little discoveries and laughs we will share in the unfamiliar  pages. He enjoys putting last week's books (and occasionally his library card) in the book return slot and the newly chosen books up onto the counter for the librarian to check out for us, then he helps me load the stroller with our book bounty. For him the other highlight of these visits is the big red button that opens the automatic doors.

While I really enjoy the treasure hunt that is our weekly trip to the library, I've also loved sharing my old books with my kids. Here are two standbys from the early 1980s that happen to both be by Eloise Wilkin. I've got each of them committed to memory (they were already half complete in my head from my childhood) so that I can recite them in those rare instances that we - Heaven forbid - find ourselves without a book!

"And then we say goodnight."
My Goodnight Book by Eloise Wilkin
This shaped board book is brief but I can remember some of what I felt when I viewed these pages as a child. I recall identifying with the little girl, liking the look of the mother in the story and thinking she was sure of herself and gentle, and I was excited by the candy bowl on the table next to the armchair where the father and daughter read their bedtime story. Most of all I found (and still find) that the nighttime view out the girl's bedroom window on the last page of the book (see image) made me feel like all is right with the world. The pastoral setting and the summer evening breeze evokes a sense of security and contentedness that relaxes me still each time I read the book.
"A guppy is a little fish."

The Little Book by Eloise Wilkin
The cover of this book pictures a little girl reading "The Little Book" which has a picture of the same little girl reading "The Little Book" which has a picture of... This was my first example of recursion and I remember being fascinated by the infinity of it all. The text of the book is considerably less existential but just about as sweet as Wilklin's illustrations, epitomizing her cute aesthetic: "A chuckle is a little laugh. A little cow is a calf. A quarrel is a tiff. A little sniffle is a sniff." It's hard to beat the simplicity of a list of rhyming words and informative truths.

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