Compared to my last few selections, the two books today target a different audience. The first book is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. It’s rhythmic, gentle, classic, and well worth a 60th anniversary edition. It even made me laugh once. As a way to help a child of 2 or 3 to sleep each night, Ms. Brown wrote well. It gets a 3 out of 5.
The second book has an even better title, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, a tale that one reviewer described as “onomatopoetic elegance.” The target audience is a little older, I think, children who are beginning to understand shape and letter. Mr. Martin has chosen bright bold colors; grey and muted blue make no appearance, and brown is restricted to tree trunks and coconuts. Instead, we get purple, pink, green, orange, and yellow. In the text, we get excellent rhyme, lyrics begging for music I wish I could write. The words want to be read aloud, “skit skat skoodle doot flip flop flee.” The small letters receive no permanent damage, as their mamas and papas and uncles and aunts hugged their little dears. The injuries are only stubbed toes and loose teeth and the like. This book is adorable. As a bonus, I really want to work the first line of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom into a test, “A told B, and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.” This book gets a 4 out of 5.
Why was I reading books for children under four? I received recommendations for gifts for a couple I know, who had their first child on the 14th. I may just keep these, and add a few Dr. Seuss books, so when couples with young children come to visit, they’ll have options for their kids. The Loop trains are no longer outside my window. That’s good for guests. It wasn’t supposed to be illuminating. I saw something in these books, despite my intentions. I just wanted to throw this little aside into a serious set of reviews. Sigh. I overthink everything.
So, what did I see? I saw the difference between how Americans view children and adults. The children’s section was bright and colorful, while the other sections, well, were not. Adults treat children with gentility and kindness, trying to be lively and optimistic. Changes are dramatic. Why don’t the people that treat children, and even animals (watch some people around dogs and cats), treat grown ups with the same liveliness and promise?
It might be the idea of promise, that children have possibilities, while adults are locked into patterns. But that doesn’t make sense for animals. There’s a possibility about innocence, well displayed by the legendary Britney Spears in “Baby One More Time”. That might be right, but instead, what if it’s about vulnerability? Young children and animals generally don’t cause harm. Well, unless you’re a young boy recovering from Legg Perthes, still learning to walk, and the neighbor’s dog is larger and faster than you, and likes to charge a lot. That might be terrifying. Hypothetically, you know. Like that ever could happen.
What I mean is that children are not competition. Without the need for defense, women and men can be encouraging. That’s bright and hopeful and colorful. Why can’t that be true everywhere? Maybe we read Paul in 1st Corinthians 13 too strictly when he recalls that “when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” Though immaturity and impulsiveness should be put away, Encouragement isn’t childish! Brightness and cheer aren’t childish!
Or maybe they are and I live in an unreal world. Tough.