11 February 2008

Bedtime Stories

Jenny's Birthday Book (Averill, Esther)
Something to tell the Grandcows (Spinelli, Eileen and Bill Slavin, illus.)
Pierre in Love (Pennypacker, Sara and Petra Mathers, illus.)

It's been a couple of evenings of sharing favorites with the little one. Last night she read The Snowy Day to me, which was a big deal, because it was the first time her reading assignment for school was a proper book and not a phonetic worksheet. So there was a real sense of achievement, as well as the warm glow of nostalgia. And then tonight we returned to Jenny Linsky and her cat club in Jenny's Birthday Book. I was a big fan of the Cat Club as a kid, particularly Pickles the firecat. My daughter likes him, too, but for her the delight is in the sight of the cats dancing the Sailor's Hornpipe in Central Park, and the diva cat Concertina with her mouth wide open, forever belting out an aria. It's amazing how some books age so much better than others, and this is one of them. I mean, excellent is excellent, at any time, right? But in reality, not all good books are created equal. Fortunately, the Jenny books have managed to age without dating itself. I'm constantly pushing them at work (recently bought a brand new set of them with nice clean covers and intact bindings.) The gentle tone that ends the book, as Jenny says a prayer that "Please may all cats everywhere have happy birthdays when their birthdays come," and she falls into contented sleep, is as tranquil as the green room and the bowl of mush in Goodnight Moon. If you managed to miss Jenny Linsky in your youth, meet her now!

(Project for a future date--write a biography of Esther Averill. I can't find one. It's on my list of things to do.)

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