08 November 2007
The little one was home sick today (which means I was home today, too, but reasonably healthy.) In between cat naps, we enjoyed a few books together.
More Spaghetti, I Say! (Gelman, Rita Golden)
A Witch got on at Paddington Station (Sheldon, Dyan)
Mercy Watson Fights Crime (DiCamillo, Kate)
Big Bad Wolves at School (Krensky, Stephen)
I'm already well familiar with "Spaghetti" and "Mercy Watson"; they are established favorites in our house, and now the fun is that, where as I used to read them to my daughter, she is now able to read them to me. But both "Wolves" and "Witch" were surprises. They weren't at all what I was expecting. I thought "Wolves" would be about, well, big bad wolves going to school and causing trouble. But the twist in this fractured fairy tale is that the wolves go to school in order to become big and bad. They attend the Bad Wolf Academy where they learn such useful skills as huffing and puffing and speaking a second language (that would be, "Baaaaaa".)
As for "Witch", it caught my eye, because after my time in England, working in the transport industry, no less, I couldn't resist the picture of the routemaster on the cover. And although I think it was supposed to be a comic story about non-conformity and magic, my lasting impression of the book is the portrayal of the uptight, jobsworth conductor who does his best to evict the unassuming witch from his bus. Perhaps I'm just sensitive, having worked as a railway conductor, and knowing what sort of wise guys take advantage--in every sense of the word--of public transportation. But he really did encompass all the negative stereotypes we worked so hard to discourage and dispel after privatization.
But I digress. And speaking of digressions, I'd love to know how much "Witch" illustrator was influenced by the style of fellow English illustrator, the late, great Janet Ahlberg.