It’s a good thing that I’ve been working at a toy store for the past few months because it’s reminded me of so many picture books I read as a child that I can actually answer today’s question: which picture book was my favorite as a kid.
There are, of course, too damned many. Let’s review: We have Richard Scary books, which were effing amazing because who did not love Lowly Worm? He’s an earthworm with a Robin Hood style cap! That’s some mind-blowing shit to the under-four set. Also, Little Golden Books. Yes, I know, the ones from my childhood are old, probably written by Republicans, and contained an uncomfortable amount of god, but the illustrations were sweet.* Alexander and the No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day? Awesome. But I really have to boil my favorite picture books down to two: Harry the Dirty Dog and The Great Redwall Feast.
Harry the Dirty Dog is, in true children’s-book style, a completely nonsensical story about a dog, Harry, that runs away and comes back covered in coal soot. His owners don’t recognize him, but they decide against all reason to give him a bath.** He is, of course, revealed to be their Harry, un-dirtied. I was obsessed with this book as a small child, in spite of the fact that we didn’t own it. A couple my parents were friends with did, and I read it every time we visited them. It had belonged to their kids, who were adults when I was four. The fact that the book was so old that an old lady of twenty-two had read it as a child was flabbergasting to me at that age.
The other one, The Great Redwall Feast, actually came from my early-teen-hood but I loved it because look:
The entire book is illustrated like that. Look at his little paws! And oh my god, the otters are the cutest drawings ever. Plus, it’s a poem about mice running an abbey. How freakin’ adorable is that? I loved the art in this book so, so much; it’s definitely one of my all-time favorite picture books even today.
Anyway, I could probably list a bunch of other amazing picture books, but I’ll leave it at my two favorite. And I resisted such modern classics as I Want My Hat Back. God I love the expression on that bear’s face.
Images from Wikipedia.
* The strangest thing I had as a child was a set of massive Bible coloring books.*** Not just scenes from the bible, but every story in the bible with multiple, color-able illustrations. The Old Testament was my favorite, which should have predicted my vindictive nature by several years.
** Honestly, who the fuck lets their children bathe a stray dog within half an hour of finding it?
*** Why yes, my mom was a Southern Protestant. Religious indoctrination through creative play!