Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Real Hole

The Real Hole
Beverly Cleary ~ Mary Stevens ~ William Morrow, 1960

Sorry I've been missing for a few days, but my allergies are seriously kicking my butt!

Thus, this special Saturday post...

Soooo, today I wanna talk about a short series of picture books by the incomparable Beverly Cleary about a pair of twin preschoolers named Jimmy and Janet. The Real Hole was the first one in 1960, followed by Two Dog Biscuits in '61 and The Growing-Up Feet in '67 (also illustrated by Mary Stevens of Trixie Belden fame), and later followed by Janet's Thingamajigs in '87 (illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo who eventually went on to reillustrate the whole series). I have to assume these books were inspired by Beverly's own twins, Malcolm and Marianne, born in 1955.

That said, the first story opens with a brief introduction into the minds of the matchmade siblings.

Jimmy and Janet were twins.

This meant they had the same mother, and the same father, and the same birthday, too. Jimmy always had Janet to play with and Janet always had Jimmy to play with. Even though Jimmy and Janet were both four years old, they did not always like the same things. Janet liked to pretend things. She liked to pretend that a block was a cup of tea and that two paper bags were a pair of shoes. But Jimmy-- Jimmy liked real things. He didn't want to play with a toy hammer and toy nails. He wanted to play with a real grown-up hammer and real grown-up nails.

And there's the rub. When Jimmy is inspired to dig a hole, Janet imagines it a fishing hole or a rabbit's lair, while Jimmy insists, no, it is a REAL HOLE. In the end, the hole must find purpose, and it finally ends up the perfect size for a real tree, appropriately decked out for the season.

I doubt there are many children who didn't grow up loving Beverly's world of Ramona, Henry, Ribsy and Ralph, but these books, in particular, make me wonder what a special treat it must have been to grow up with a mother like Beverly, with her boundless imagination and heart.

Thanks for the borrow, Gillian!


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Books For Breakfast said...

I want these!

stephanie said...

I found these 4 stories together in 1 book at a Goodwill recently: "Two Times the Fun". They were reillustrated by Carol Thompson so the pictures are not quite as charming; still a great book.

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