Budding Bibliophile

My girl loves books. Since she was a wee little thing she expressed an interest in them. Books are an important thing to us, and apparently our family and friends as well, as P is the proud owner of at least 75 books. I have cleared her stock a few times to get rid of ones she is now too big for, and yet, she still has loads. Obviously, this is no bad thing.

Now we have reached a point at which she is branching into picture books. My baby is now too old for most board books, having already passed the "too old for cloth books" milestone ages ago. This is great though, since picture books are far more exciting and feature much greater illustrations, generally speaking. I used to work in the kids' section at Borders and often had to wipe drool off of some of the gorgeously illustrated books, I was so in awe of them.

When I say the kid is a reader, or rather, makes me a reader and herself a listener, I'm not kidding. This was tonight's list:

That's 18 books friends. Eighteen. I joked to Molly the other day that I was going to create a Goodreads* account for P. Upon further reflection, I do think it's a good idea. It will be a great way to keep track of what she has read and is currently reading. How very 21st century of us!

In reading these gallons and gallons of books, I've come to notice a disappointing theme - DEATH. These are toddlers for god's sake, do you really need to whip out the "d" word at every opportunity? My kid doesn't even know what that is yet, and I'd like to keep it that way for awhile. You want some proof?:

The book, The Selfish Crocodile

The gist is that this crocodile doesn't want the other animals frolicking in his river, the hateful bastard. Karma gives him a toothache, whereupon all the other animals are getting ready to dance on his grave:

That bird is a biiiitch!

The next, perhaps most depressing book is Gentle Giant Octopus. It was in the Information Books section for kids much older than my own, but she is obsessed with sea creatures and had to have it. Now she dispenses random pieces of octopus-related wisdom throughout the day like, "Octopuses don't have bones!" and "Octopuses have eight legs - called TENTACLES!"

The book focuses on the life journey of a female octopus. The tone of the book is that octopuses are magnificent creatures! They are so unique! Let us show you how! It gets a bit brutal at one point, with the octopus having a tentacle pinched by a crab, and another tentacle TORN OFF by a wolf eel. Quite rightly, P says, "Well, that's not very nice!" when we get to this part of the book. Thankfully the capture of this occasion is not too graphic:

The only problem is, this is all building up to the octopus' inevitable demise upon the birth of her children. Charming.

The picture isn't great, so in case you can't make sense of it, it says, "A gentle Giant Octopus shrinks in the shadows. Her life is over as their lives begin." You know, just a little light nighttime reading for the kids involving parental death! Twitterfolk were talking the other day about Disney films' obsession with the death of protagonists' parents, which apparently extends to (seemingly) harmless kids' books as well.

P also has a copy of "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly". You don't need photos since I'm sure you know the song from your own childhood. Suffice it to say, each line ends with "Perhaps she'll DIE!" Why not? We're all going to die eventually anyway, so you might as well get used to the concept kiddies!

Perhaps a bit less forward with the concept of death and infirmity is Lucy Goosey -

Lucy Goosey strops because she doesn't want to migrate with her family. Her family pisses off without her, but then her Mum feels guilty and comes back. They have a heart to heart, and everything is honky dory again. They discuss their mutual love and Lucey the kid comes out with this nugget:

I'll transcribe due to my dodgy photography/flash issues -

"Will you always search for me?" asked Lucy Goosey
"Always," said her mother.
"Even when you're old?"
"Even when I'm old."
"When you're very old, said Lucy Goosey, you might lose your way and be scared."
"I might," said her mother

Hi Anne James, author of Lucy Goosey. Why don't you just rip out my heart with your bare hands before you stick the sharpened knife in it?

The other book issue I sometimes struggle with is innocuous language which I have chosen to make perverse. There's a lot more of it out there than you'd think. Ok, maybe I'm just looking for it. Yeah, that's probably more like it. C'mon though, check this out -

The first one is from The Selfish Crocodile, bounty of death and perversity that it is. Remember how the crocodile had a toothache? Well, a mouse comes to the rescue and pulls the bad tooth. Obviously.

There's nothing untoward there you say? The crocodile had a NICE JUICY NUT WAITING FOR HIM! A JUICY NUT.

This tale of nut lust continues...

Not only does the crocodile lure small mice into his mouth with the promise of some of his juicy nuts, but he likes to watch as well. Sick old voyeur.

The next occasion for perversion is a library book we've recently gotten for P - Ebb and Flo and the Sea Monster:

I genuinely have a hard time uttering the words without laughing. Do you think you could?

Again, not a great photo. Ebb, the dog, loves this ball. "Ebb sucked it, and tossed it." I didn't take photos of the rest of the book, but rest assured that Ebb did a lot of sucking and tossing. I don't think "tossing" means anything in the US vernacular, but it does here, hence my enjoyment. Seriously people, sucking and tossing. How could I let that go?

I feel I should say more, because I know if I plumbed the depths of her book collection I could come up with even more death and sex fodder. It's something to look forward to (dread?) for future posts!

*For those who missed my post mentioning my own Goodreads account due to Bloglines' inability to function as a proper feed reader, I'm on there and I want friends. My account is under my "real" email address, so send me an email at my gmail account (barrenalbion at gmail dot com) if you want to be a book BFF.


Molly said...


Those are great. And sad.

Yeah, the only nasty "tossing" euphemism I've heard here involves salads. Ahem.

I vote for P on Goodreads!!

OvaGirl said...

Oh look it's a veritable jungle out there Pru! (Very impressed with the tower of reading matter by the way)

Magpie said...

I can't count how many books Mir has. Books are good.

Brigindo said...

Uhm, kids figure out the whole death thing (and, if you let 'em, the whole sex thing too) at this age. Children's books, Disney, fairy tales, all deal with death--especially the death of parents-- because its an important topic to little kids and it actually helps them understand it better. The "death" talk with little kids freak a lot of parents out (perhaps more so than the "sex talk" but I don't know) so it can actually help a lot to have it introduced in literature.

Anonymous said...

To go all academic, and, you know, insufferable, for a moment, Bruno Bettelheim wrote a great deal on why scary stories featuring bitch step-mothers, abandonment, mutilation and DEATH were actually good for children. The dear little tots can find out about and get a grip on serious stuff and terrifying stuff, so that when it REALLY happens (and damn it to hell, it always will really happen, the cat dies, a friend moves away, tot gets lost in the supermarket for two hours, and that's the LUCKY kids), the children will have a grasp of what's happening, and why, and how it's not the End of the Universe, and they will cope much better. Bettelheim compared the effect of the death of grandparents (he was morbid) on 'protected' four year olds versus ones who had read good old-fashioned scary fairy-tales and found the 'protected' ones were far more likely to develop behavioural problems. Even more so if the parents had been telling them 'oh, grandmama had to go away' rather than the actual truth.

This does not stop reading these things TO your kid being horrible.

I remember reading the Goose Girl to Minx, and my God! The killed her precious talking horse and NAILED ITS HEAD TO A GATE. Minx, blase as anything. Auntie May, practically weeping and gibbering. When Minx's cat ran away for over a month, Minx wistfully announced that Kitty had gone to heaven to help other little girls.

Then the cat came back, little stinker, and MInx had to rewrite her cosmology pretty sharpish.

Anyway, the MAIN POINT of this exceedingly long and tedious comment, is HURRAY FOR P. All kids who like books are excellent kids and I worship at her teeny tiny feet.

Also, sucked. Tossed. Sheesh. We ought to be grateful they weren't his OWN balls.

rockmama said...

My children's book collection also started while I was children's section manager at Borders. :) I have a fetish for beautifully illustrated books, most of which are hidden away for a time when i DON'T have to tell the Prawn to "be gentle" with books. (She can't get enough reading, but gets a little too excited sometimes.)

If you want both sex AND death in children's literature, look no further than Babette Cole. Death is dealt with in a funny and forthright way in "Drop Dead" and sex is given the same treatment in "Mummy Laid an Egg". If you've never seen a child's stick figure drawing of two people doing it while dressed as clowns....well, then you gotta have a look at this book.

There are a few books that I have difficulty reading to the Prawn due to the fact that it actually makes me cry. I'll have to work on it.

Anonymous said...

The dying octopus kills me! And not in a good way! Suck & toss also kills me, in an entirely good way. I have all this to look forward to. Although, I don't think Harry is going to enjoy my cherished copies of Mallory Towers much... he'll probably do better on The Three Investigators. That's the thing about being a girl: you can read boy's fiction without anyone raising an eyebrow. Not so much the other way around.

Tash said...

I'm with Brigindo and Nutsinmay: they figure it out. A light bulb will go off. They will have a few moments of consternation and confusion, and perhaps even shed a tear or two. And then they will go on to enjoy these stories of independent animals and children and their macabre ways.

Obviously we had a real-life scenario plopped in the middle of our Barbar, so we probably went through the thicket sooner and rougher than most kids, and there was a point in time where a book or two were "too sad." Not anymore. I predict she's reading Grimm rather shortly.

As an aside to the death/sex, have you tried the graphic novel? Bella recently discovered "Polo" and i swear, it's like crack. Because she can "read" it.

Marmite Breath said...

I have a rough time not laughing during all the parts of the Harry Potter series where it says, "He got his wand out"

It's even worse if stuff comes out the end of the wand. I have to go and make a drink, snort in the kitchen and then go back to reading.

I'm 12 like that.

Shinny said...

At least it doesn't appear that you are forced to read the same book over and over and over. My son would get obsessed with one book and for weeks that was the only book I could read to him. Good thing he was under 2 at the time and really only wanted a voice and the pictures because I had to make up dirty stories about the characters to keep from losing my freaking mind.
My mother would just gasp when she heard some of the stories I was making up and of course my father would laugh until he peed. ;)
Good luck and I hope she doesn't get like Alex did with the books. Now at 15 I can't get him to read a thing, I wonder if my making up stories is what did it? ;)

Cass said...

Hey, I think B has that same comforter cover thingy. Ikea, right? Back when he let me tuck him in (which he sadly no longer does) he used to ask to be tucked in so he could see the frogs.