Anthony Browne ~ Alfred A. Knopf, 1983
As some of you know, last year I began working for a university press housed in a university library, and one of my favorite things to do on my lunch break is peruse the children's books section. And because it is a university library, most of the books are pretty old. It almost seems that they don't buy children's books anymore and haven't since the 1980s. Anywho, school just let out for the summer, and the library has become suddenly empty, which makes for peaceful browsing whenever I get the chance. It was on one such recent perusal that I stumbled across this book.
Previously, I'd been anti anything 80s, preferring to stick to titles from that time period that I knew and loved as a child. It's only recently that I've begun to appreciate the style of children's literature in that era and see the beauty in the books, not just for their nostalgia factor. I love the drab cynicism of the one grownup shown here (so 80s) and how he's the exact opposite of the main character.
Hannah loved gorillas. She read books about gorillas, she watched gorillas on television, and she drew pictures of gorillas. But she had never seen a real gorilla. Her father didn't have time to take her to see one at the zoo. He didn't have time for anything. He went to work every day before Hannah went to school, and in the evening he worked at home. When Hannah asked him a question, he would say, "Not now, I'm busy. Maybe tomorrow."
In magical splendor, when the girl is gifted a toy gorilla, the beast grows in the night, and takes her to the zoo (where she laments the caged primates), takes her to the movies (to see Super Gorilla, of course), takes her for a wonderful meal (bananas), and for a dance on the lawn. It's a fabulous night, and Hannah is sad but thankful when she wakes to find the gorilla just a toy again.
The end is a weeper, so I won't give the surprise sweetness away. The illustrations are precise and fun to look at, and the story a total fairy tale. Just marvelous!
Sorry, I missed loving this book way back when.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Someone in my house recently turned eight, and as you all know, almost the only time I buy previously unused books are for the holidays and birthdays. Those occasions are when I buy brand spanking new reads so my son's shelves aren't filled with tomes inscribed "I hope you love this book as much as I did when I was little. Love Uncle Rufus, Christmas 1968."
What filled his birthday coffers aside from Minecraft Legos and The Game of Life you might ask? Well, one of the big non-book presents was still sorta book related. The fabulous Ben Hatke did this super-awesome Doctor Who commission for a totally psyched birthday boy. Doctor Who is my son's favorite thing of the moment, so getting Ben to bring his own imagination to the world of the Doctor was a special treat. My son flipped when he saw it! If you haven't gotten your kids' Ben's Zita the Space Girl graphic novels (Zita the Spacegirl and Legends of Zita), don't waste another minute. Totally rad...
Jon Klassen is my personal, current favorite everything when it comes to kids' books, but a book that includes his awesomeness and Lemony Snicket? Forget about it! The Dark was the first book I bought for the birthday list. It reminds me a bit of my all time favorite vintage kids' book, Switch on the Night, which just makes me love it even more.
Also included in the birthday haul was a book I've been wanting to get for a while, and it finally floated to the top of the heap, the Newberry Award-winning The One and Only Ivan, inspired life of the famous mall gorilla. I can't wait for him to read it!
Of course, there were more volumes of Captain Underpants in Spanish, more of the boy's current preferred read alone books Big Nate, the DK Doctor Who: Character Encyclopedia,and lots of vintage goodness likely to be covered here at a later date.
Sadly for my ego, the big book winner this birthday didn't come from me. Thingummery's daughters gifted him El Asunto Tornasol, and three reads later, I'm now on the lookout for more Tintin in Spanish.
It never ends does it?
So, another year of reading is complete... each year moving us further and further away from the joys of childhood page-turning and into the amazing future of all the books in the world. Bittersweet life. I recently had the displeasure of packing up a heartbreaking number of my son's books into the attic, so when I saw this blog post from on the Motherlode recently, I could absolutely relate.
If they could just stay little.