It is so easy to turn Where the Wild Things Are into a a big, rollicking tickle fest, and I am never able to resist the urge. When those Wild Things show up with their "terrible roars" and "terrible eyes" and "terrible claws," I attack my kids with everything I've got until they are reduced to quivering masses of giggled out jelly.
And Max, the King of the Wild Things, is one of the coolest kids in any kids book ever. Sure he's being too much of a "Wild Thing," which gets him sent to bed, but he's not your modern kid. There's no brattiness and entitlement. Just a cool kid getting a little crazy on fun before being sent off to bed and a great adventure in his dreams.
And when he comes back from his adventure he finds his dinner waiting for him...and it's still hot.
Now, you see, my little Scoutie Kat loves Harold and the Purple Crayon, and I think it is because I finally figured out the voice for reading aloud. One night last month we were sitting around, and I was exhausted, so rather than try to muster energy and liven up proceedings, I simply went with my exhaustion, put in a pseudo-mid-western accent and languidly set off on Harold's journey.
Turns out that languid is a big hit -- at least with Scoutie. Slow and steady and soothing is the voice she likes, and I discovered, much to my surprise, that I liked the story more than I ever had before. I think I'd always been reading it wrong, trying to make it into an adventure, rather than a journey to sleep. Silly me.
I have it now, though, and I'll never read it another way again.
(p.s. Until today I had it ranked at three stars, but I've added another now. Harold deserves it.)(less)
Hell, I am even more likely to read the Seuss-lite Go Dog. Go than One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. But if my kids grab it, and Scoutie's been doing that a lot lately, I'll gladly traverse the bizaare landscape of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Of all Seuss's book, this is the least cohesive. It's just an excuse to rhyme. Nothing more than that. Mr. Brown makes an odd appearance. There's whiny Ned in his too small bed. Yet there's that great line: "From there to here, from here to there funny things are everywhere," and it's some of Seuss's best art. It's a good book. the kids love it, and Scoutie can't get enough.
Honestly, I love it too. But I never reach for it and probably never will, which is okay ... it always winds up in my hands somehow.(less)
The art is beautiful, GIRLS can be Pirates (how's that for crazy?!), the writing is perfectly suited to oral delivery, and there is NO violence. The closest we come is a big, bad Pirate Master threatening to sic his Mom on those who take his treasure.
It is wonderful. Read it to your kids, then have them read it to you. I guarantee (figuratively) that you will love it. (less)
I am not sure I can see why Peter Pan is such a beloved "classic." J.M. Barrie's story of the boy who wouldn't grow up just didn't reach me. And I rea...moreI am not sure I can see why Peter Pan is such a beloved "classic." J.M. Barrie's story of the boy who wouldn't grow up just didn't reach me. And I read it aloud to 4 year old boy-girl twins.
Oh, they enjoyed it, and I may have bred a love for the story in them that will last (which could be exactly why the story has endured -- parental readings), but no matter how much they liked Peter Pan I could not see the appeal.
Wendy drove me crazy; Peter grew increasingly annoying; Hook bored me stiff; there was too much violence; Barrie's narrative interjections grew to be too intrusive; and I generally felt a distinct lack of fun. About the only thing I liked about the book, besides it ending, was Tinkerbell. Her snooty fairy arrogance always made me smile.
I know I will incur the wrath of many when I say this, but I actually prefer the Disney version. Walt brought some real joy to the story, and while I will never read Peter Pan again, I will watch the movie. Probably tomorrow.
If there wasn't a successful play of Pan I would put the longevity of Barrie's story on the head of Disney. Too bad I can't, but then he's been blamed for enough over the years, hasn't he?(less)
Say! I love Green Eggs and Ham. I do! I love it Seuss-I-am.
So I will read it with Miloš Or he will read it cause he's precoš. And I will read it with...moreSay! I love Green Eggs and Ham. I do! I love it Seuss-I-am.
So I will read it with Miloš Or he will read it cause he's precoš. And I will read it with my Të And we will read it night and day. And I will read it to my Scout And she will love it, I have no doubt. And I will read it in the rain. And I will read it on the train. And I will read it in my socks. And I will read it with a fox. And I will read it in the shower. And I will read it every hour. And I will read it doing dishes. And I will read it with the fishes. I will read it here or there. Say! I will read it ANYWHERE!
The Sneetches is my absolute favourite Seuss story. The rhythm trumps all other Seuss stories, and when I am reading this out loud to my kids I joyful...moreThe Sneetches is my absolute favourite Seuss story. The rhythm trumps all other Seuss stories, and when I am reading this out loud to my kids I joyfully shift from Star-belly Sneetch voices to Plain-belly Sneetch voices to Sylvester McMonkey McBean's voice without even a hint of having to think about the shift. Seuss's rhythm invites that. I can speed up to warp, I can slow down and leave an octo-pregnant pause, and still the rhythm is flawless. Plus, the story's pretty meaningful too. This is the perfect mix of fun, readability and content. Me loves it.
The Zax is a damn fine follow up, and the fact that it has two of Seuss's crabbiest, most stubborn characters, characters who bring themselves to a permanent halt while the world moves on around them (a cautionary tale for all those who believe unswervingly in their chosen dogma) makes it more than a match for The Sneetches moral strength.
Too Many Daves is just plain fun. Super fun. All I can say is "Zanzibar Buck Buck McFate!" If we have another boy, I am going to do everything I can to convince Erika to name hm ZBBMcF. Or at least Zanzibar.
What Was I Scared Of? is the only weak link in The Sneetches, but that's not a bad thing to be when the stories are so strong. It's cute. It delivers a good message, teaching us how silly it is to be afraid of the dark. But it remains, at least around here at our house, the least read of the four stories. We finish Too Many Daves and we close the book.
I think I will start there next time. What Was I Scared Of? deserves a little more love.(less)
I have been slowly reading a stack of children's classics to my twins (thus far to combat the poor movie adaptations that are out there), but I have b...moreI have been slowly reading a stack of children's classics to my twins (thus far to combat the poor movie adaptations that are out there), but I have been less than impressed.
Even though I had been slightly disabused of my belief that Pinnochio would be overly moralistic by The Old Trouts' brilliant stage adaptation (they're a Canadian puppet theatre company based out of Calgary), and despite the fact that Disney's Classic adaptation maintains most of the creepier elements from Collodi's classic, I approached Pinnochio with serious doubt and attitude.
I almost dared it to be good.
And shock of shocks it actually was. Yes there's a talking cricket, but his name isn't Jiminy and he doesn't sit on Pinnochio's shoulder and act as his conscience. Yes there is a thread of moralism running through the book, and yes some of the things Collodi teaches, such as his focus on one's duty to obey one's parents, run contrary to what I believe, the book actually steers clear of preachiness and simply lets a fun story unfold in a fun way with a couple of decent lessons cropping up here and there.
Playland (known as Pleasure Island in Disney parlance) is almost as creepy as Walt's uber-spooky version, particularly the slimy man who rounds up the kiddies and turns them into donkeys. Monstro is a gigantic, mile long Shark-with-no-name, rather than a massive whale. The blue haired fairy is a huge character, far more important than the talking cricket, and she can change shape into a goat at will. And if these elements weren't enough fun there are times when Pinnochio is collared and tied to a dog house to watch hens, hanged from a tree to die in the forest, nearly used as kindling, has his donkey flesh eaten away by nasty little fish, and is even thrown in prison by a Judge who happens to be a talking Ape.
E. Harden's translation seems superb and is eminently readable (although my friend Manny might no better how accurate a translation it is), and even though the book comes in at a pretty steep 200+ pages (impressive for a kids' book) it never tires its reader or his listeners. My kids wanted more every time we stopped for the night, and if Collodi leaves the kids wanting more that has to be a good thing.
Our next stop is Alice in Wonderland, but I may hunt down some more Collodi. He deserves to be read. (less)