I find it hard to believe I haven’t written a post yet about children’s books. They are such a big part of our day. When we wake at 6.15am, the first thing Elka wants to do is “wead it”. It is the last thing I feel like doing, but it is such a wholesome and innocent request – how can I refuse? I estimate, on average, we spend one tenth of the rest of the day reading with her, if she is not content reading alone.
She has a few favourite books. Her first was care of my sister-in-law: “This is the Way”, which I read to her when she was about 6 week old, lying on the change table. Her little face lit up as she followed the lyrical sounds of the elephant boom, bang, crashing and the mouse skittle, scattle, scuttling. This is still a favourite. Also from my sister-in-law came the very funny “Goodnight Gorilla”, which is a picture book with few words but loads of sentiment. And Graeme Base’s “Waterhole”, which Elka pours over every car trip. She’ll spend 10 minutes studying each page.
Others on her bookshelf include “The Gruffalo”, which is on everyone’s bookshelf – it is too hilarious; also by Julia Donaldson, “Tiddler”, “Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book” and my favourite, “The Snail and the Whale”. She loves “Moo Cow, Kung Fu Cow”, especially the happy birthday to you cow. Anything by Mem Fox goes down a treat. And nursery rhymes are fairly robust…especially when mummy sings them over and over.
I side track for a moment to ask you, did you ever realise how psycho some nursery rhymes are? For example, Oranges and Lemons…I love that one, and the pictures are so sweet, of olde worlde children playing together. The last verse of that rhyme, however, goes: “Here comes a candle to light you to bed, And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!”
Then “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.” Apparently she had too many children, so ended up whipping them all and sending them to bed with no food. Great parenting style lady! I guess this was before contraception and single mother’s benefit, so I should be a little more understanding.
And we all know the tragedy of “Rock-a-bye baby” – I can’t bring myself to read the words out to Elka. She thinks when the bough breaks, the baby does fly. One day she will tell me to get real.
Then of course there are the sexist, dodgy nursery rhymes like “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater” who had a wife and couldn’t keep her so ended up keeping her in a pumpkin shell where there he kept her very well.
But, in contemporary times, things have become a little more PC. Elka’s latest read is “Bear in Underwear”, a very funny, slightly weird comic style book about a bear who, having absconded from a game of hide and seek with friends, trips over a bag of underwear. After trying on all of them, he eventually finds a pair that fits. My favourite line is: “The tighty whitey underwear was just right – the perfect fit!” And all his friends got to wear the rest.
And of course there is “Go the f*@k to sleep”, which is on everyone’s facebook and webpage at the moment. PC? Um, no. But funny, for the parents. Elka hated it…she is usually glued to a new book, especially one with a good beat, but this one was flung across the room. Ok ok, it’s not a children’s book, it is a book for adults disguised as a children’s book. We should have known you would know better!
Her absolute favourite book of all time, though, is “The Owl and The Pussycat”, which I am thrilled by, because this has to be my favourite story too. Thank goodness the one book Elka insists on reading eight times in a row is a book I too get endless pleasure from.
And if you stay tuned, and you are really lucky, I may even post my own children’s book (rejected by publishers, but hey, we know it should have been a best-seller!)