Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

January 18, 2004

the secret life of children's books

I have recently met people who (shockingly) never got into children's literature as a child and so I feel the need to explain what it means to me. When I was sick as a kid, my mom would go to Indian Trails Public Library and bring me a stack of children's books two or three feet high. She has a very good eye and so I was exposed to all the classics by Dr. Suess, Kay Thompson, Maurice Sendak, Tomie DePaola, and on and on. I loved them, I breathed them, they were a major theme in my childhood, they were a refuge, a solace, they were funny and beautiful. The art in children's picture books can be worthy of any gallery and yet it is so accesible because it's got text, a framework to think about the pictures.
My love has only deepened with time. Now not only do I learn so much about life and the possiblities that exist therein from newly published books, but the old ones contain really good memories of my childhood. That makes them magic.
Good children's literature is so free of the degradations to art because it's written for an innocent audience. There's no sex, no violence, no swearing or drugs. There are some books that deal with very difficult topics, helping children understand the scary parts of adult life that imposes on theirs, but mostly, what's depicted is a blessedly pure world. Children's authors also get down to the basics of human nature and tell amazing stories with very few words- that's gotta be hard.
I'll write again about specific books that I love. There are so many. But I will say one word. Eloise.

Posted by Bahiyyih at January 18, 2004 09:36 AM

Mrs. Pigglewiggle

Posted by: Susan Engle at January 20, 2004 07:56 PM

Mickey in the Night Kitchen

Posted by: Layli Elena at January 20, 2004 08:38 PM

A Hole Is To Dig
Professor Wormbog and The Search for The Zimperumpazoo

Keep those favorites coming!

Posted by: Bahiyyih at January 21, 2004 09:01 PM

Someone in my family (I think it was my sister Karen) commented that when we were all together, all you could hear were pages turning and the crunching of fritos. My best library memory as a kid was actually not in the library...One time during the car trip to the library my Mother taught us two new songs - "White Coral Bells" and "Chickory Chick". I sang them to myself the whole time I was picking out my books. I must have been 6 or 7 years old at the time. As a kid, I honestly think I was just as influenced by songs as I was with books. Favorite books I read to my kids included "Pumpernickle Tickle and Mean Green Cheese", "Monster Bubbles", and of course, "Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day". And yes, they requested "Chickory Chick" so many times that if I had a dollar for every time I sang it we could all go out to lunch. Which reminds me, I'm ALWAYS happy to go out to lunch.

Posted by: Janie at January 22, 2004 01:41 AM

Thanks Janie, for the books- I will definitely try to find Pumpernickle Tickle and the Mean Green Cheese. And I love going out to lunch too.

Posted by: Bahiyyih at January 22, 2004 10:48 AM

The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss -- we didn't have many books that we actually owned, but that was one of them.

My mom had a children's book that she particularly enjoyed (as an adult) by Bill Peet -- The Wump World. We three kids also enjoyed it. It managed to combine cute fuzzy animals (the Wumps) with caves, adventure, and science fiction (invading colonists in big globish spaceships). Kind of a cross between Dr. Seuss and Star Trek. No wonder it was popular in our house!

Hmm. Two cautionary tales about ecological preservation!

Posted by: billy at January 22, 2004 02:46 PM

How about A Rhinoceros Wakes Me Up in the Morning and My Goodnight Book and Helga's Dowry and The Story of the Bluebonnets?

Posted by: Sherri at January 23, 2004 02:05 PM

A really old children's story - "The Little Engine That Could" A not so really old person still thinks about it every so often. Cool - what a lovely site!

Posted by: Janet Moslehi at January 24, 2004 08:10 PM

When I read Bahiyyih's original posting, I thought of The Wump World and The Lorax. I see Bill remembers them too. I think Mom, with her agricultural background, may have been trying to imbue good stewardship impulses in us. Well, Mom, when I think of clean, mulched, healthy-looking rows of raspberry canes with rye grass on each side, a small field of red clover, buckwheat standing in bloom, I hear the wumps and the Lorax sigh. I'm a wump in New Jersey, remembering the green growing pastures of my past.
Additional favorites with my kids are Tacky the Penguin and Olivia.

Posted by: zivar at January 25, 2004 06:23 AM

Thanks Jan! I like that story too, so does Georgia. Come visit again! It's nice to hear from you.

Posted by: Bahiyyih at January 26, 2004 07:30 AM

Hey Zivar! I'm sighing too! That sounds beautiful, and reminds me of the farm days. Hopefully, there will be green growing pastures in your future too. I love Tacky the Penguin too. Georgia loves Olivia- she regularly tells me, 'I love you anyways' from that book.

Posted by: Bahiyyih at January 26, 2004 07:36 AM