Wednesday, February 4, 2009

O What a Busy Day!

Don't worry, I'm not going to walk you through my entire day.

My title is actually the title of a children's book that I think we can safely call "vintage." I had it as a child, and I think by then the binding was already done up in duct tape (but then, many pages in my house clung together by virtue of duct tape).

Imagine my surprise and delight when our friend Jessica showed up at our house with her latest thrift store find. She was kind enough to bestow it upon us as a gift when I exploded into cooing nostalgia.

The book is adorable, taking you through an impossibly busy day in the lives of a passel o 'kids -- and I say "impossibly" because they seem to live all four seasons between sunup and sundown.

There is, of course, the bizarre interruption of an illustrated version of the "Babes in the Woods," poem, which features children either being snatched or wandering of their own accord into the woods, subsisting on berries, and then simply lying down to die. What's up with that? I used to skip over that page as a child, and I find it equally horrifying as a parent. What editor thought this an appropriate inclusion? Seriously, Mr. Fujikawa! Poisoning innocent minds!

Then again, when this book was published, carseats were unheard of and children frolicked on metal playgrounds, blistering their bottoms as they slid down those reflective slides.

The times, they have a-changed. But it sure is nice to rediscover an old friend.

5 comments:

Amy said...

I just pulled my from-childhood, beat up, duck tape-needing copy of this book off my shelf a couple of weeks ago. I can't wait until I can read this to my kid(s) in the future. "Through the teeth, past the gums, look out stomach, here it comes! Oh mother dear, I sadly fear, my appetite is always here."

Jennifer Marchman said...

I love this illustrator. I have my childhood copy of his Baby Animals book that is missing the cover. And I bought his Mother Goose book for my kids.

Stephanie said...

One of our favorites as kids was Richard Scarry's Busy Busy World. It was tattered and worn and taped together and marred by stickers and other childish markings. Sadly, this book (along with other cherished favorites) was lost in Hurricane Ivan a few years ago. And it is, of course, out of print. Boo.

dongdong said...

Sounds like a great book. I'm going to check it out. Thanks for sharing.

La Maestra said...

I remember that part in the book, as well. Fairy tales are full of archetypes that often seem bizarre or even grotesque. The child feels the power of it, in that it is a moral lesson and often does more than rationalizing with them a change in their behavior. I would tell Babes in the Woods for a child who is feeling abandoned by the peer group/a new baby/divorcing parents etc. Which is a reality for many children. Still, if I am not comfortable with a story, I won't tell it to my students, no matter what.

My favorite part in Oh What a Busy Day! is where the children basically do community service and help the old woman down the lane. As a child, I never understood how and where these amazingly empathetic children existed!