Seven Uncles Come to Dinner
Marjorie Auerbach ~ Alfred A. Knopf, 1963
It is just endless. The obsession to have everything. The weekly library sales and the online buying and the Goodwill hunting and the begging your mother for the books you loved as a girl. The envy when you find books you love but can't afford. ACK!
Whew, just had to get that off my chest. I apologize again in advance for my focus on books from the 60s, but there is just sooo much cool stuff out there. Leading me to my son's new favorite of the week. He's been focused on rhymes of late and has taken to calling out words and their rhyming friends in rapid succession, so this book of mistaken cadence plays along swimmingly with his games. (And would be perfect for any of you Francophile mommies out there!)
A little boy and his great-aunt live in the heart of Paris, and when the boy's uncles plan a visit, she sends little Emile to the market armed with a string bag, a cat and a series of rhymes to help him remember what to buy. Somewhere along the way, he gets mixed up and comedy ensues.
"Now listen to me carefully, my dear. First I will need:
Cherries and berries for the fruit compote,
Green beans and tangerines... shall I take a note?"
"Oh no, Tante, I'll remember everything you tell me."
Then Great-aunt Louise had an idea.
"I'll tell you all in rhyme, my pet. Then you won't be likely to forget."
So she continued:
"Nine little sausages and a leg of veal,
A Sainte Honorine tart and some orange peel.
Seven brioches and a long thin bread,
And any flowers, so long as they're red.
"Cherries and berries and tangerines" become "tomatoes, potatoes, and nectarines" and so on, and the child's romp through the markets of La Ville-Lumière is lively and tickling. The wood cuts are bright, and the story moves along at such an engrossing clip, it makes you wish it went on longer than it does.
One of my personal favorite finds and one of my son's top five lifetime picks.