I am really missing a set of incredibly illustrated fairy tale books I had when I was a kid, but looking for it brought me to Fairy Tales and Fables, illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa, which I’m loving. It has a lot of very short stories, which is good for a child without much attention span for just sitting, looking and listening. And they’re somewhat but not totally expurgated — the Woodsman takes care of the Wolf offscreen, but they don’t all sit down to tea with a hearty round of “I’m sorry for the cultural misunderstanding”s. I’m not quite ready to expose Badger to the full-on Brothers Grimm “they hacked off their toes to get the glass slipper to fit” experience, but I also don’t want stories so insipid we might as well be reading one of those Dora books where it takes her 20 pages to find her hat (hint: it’s probably in that G.D.’d backpack).
The other book I’m really excited to have is a reprint of a book I had when I was a child: Favorite Poems, Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris. These are not “poems for children”, but real poems on subjects that interest children. It’s a big book, with over 700 poems arranged by general categories (My Family and I, It’s Fun to Play, Animal Pets and Otherwise, etc.) but otherwise charmingly unorganized. I think this book, more than any other I read when I was young, truly encouraged a love of writing and reading and words for their own sake. I still know some of these by heart.
As I said, Badger is having trouble with the whole “Mommy reads and you just look — just LOOK, darn your socks!”* thing. But poems at dinner time were surprisingly well-received.
I got both of these books for Badger’s birthday (poor little Christmastime baby), but we’ve already dipped into them as I am apparently incapable of buying something for a child and then sticking it in a closet. I’ll just wrap them up a few days before; she doesn’t really know what the deal is with birthdays anyhow so she’ll be none the wiser.
*Does anyone else have a hard time coming up with swears and such? My whole pre-child stash is basically unusable and the ones I make up make me sound like Phil Dunphy.