As a book addict I’ve kept nearly all of the books I had when I was a kid. I’ve got Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew books, some Golden books and of course numerous Dr Seuss books.
I’ve been reading them on and off to JJ for quite a while now and I love them. I love them for the silly rhymes they have.
‘"All mine!" Yertle cried. "Oh, the things I now rule!
I’m king of a cow! And I’m king of a mule!
I’m king of a house! And, what’s more, beyond that,
I’m king of a blueberry bush and a cat!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvellous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!"’
Reading out loud in rhyme is quite soothing and fairly easy unless you read Fox in Socks. JJ was given this for Christmas from a friend of ours. I was staying over at their place the night and being on holidays I’d had a couple of drinks. Not that I need to be on holidays to justify drinking. But I mistakenly decided to read JJ Fox in Socks after a couple of drinks and had great trouble getting my mouth around verse like this,
‘First, I’ll make a quick trick brick stack.
Then I’ll make a quick trick block stack.
You can make a quick trick chick stack.
You can make a quick trick clock stack.’
The illustrations also keep JJ interested as they are just about as silly as the rhyme is. And the premise of a story like Green Eggs and Ham is just nonsense. Who would eat green eggs. Yuk!
But of course it’s the message behind the books that really shines through for me as an adult and, I’m sure, to some extent younger readers.
Green Eggs and Ham was a great book for me to read to JJ when he was going through the I’m-not-going-to-eat-vegetables stage. Like the character in the book who will not even contemplate tasting the green eggs and ham JJ would not taste some of the foods I put on his plate. I’d read Green Eggs and Ham to him and afterwards say, ‘See, he didn’t want to eat them at first, but after he tried them he decided he did like them after all. If he can do it so can you.’ JJ eats nearly everything I give him now. I can’t say it’s just this book that did it. Other threats like no dessert probably helped things along somewhat.
The Yertle the Turtle the story is a great one about wanting more than you have and not being satisfied with what you do have. Yertle wants to survey more land than he can currently see from the rock in his pond and makes all his turtles stand on top of each other so he can reach a greater height. This works for a while but due to an uprising of the turtles below in the form of a hiccup from Mack, Yertle comes tumbling down from his perch and is king of the mud.
‘And the turtles, of course…all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.’
Before I went on my first overseas trip a friend gave me ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’. I took it with me and even brought it back with me and now it sits in JJ’s bookshelf. It’s got great messages for the adult and the child reader whether travelling on holiday or just travelling through life.
‘And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.’
‘I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.’
How true! Despite being in the Lurch, the waiting place, not having fun, or just being plain lonely you will get through it eventually and have fun. I love reading this book when I’m in a slump as it reminds me that I will come through the other end and be okay again. I think it’s a good message to send to kids as well that it isn’t all happy times, there are sad times but not to dwell on the bad times and focus instead on the good times.