It's no secret that I love reading aloud to my children. It's one area of mothering where I consistently feel like I'm doing a pretty good job. If we accomplish nothing else of note in a day, at least we've read at least one good book together.
When Eliza was about three, she went through a big Frog and Toad phase. At that time, Ian was coming into his own as a reader, and I combed the stacks of beginning readers at the library for quality material. These stories satisfied both needs. Now Eliza herself is in that phase, and once again I reflect on how difficult it is to find Easy Readers that are a treat to behold, and just as delightful for the reading or listening adult as they for the reading or listening child.
Which is why I harbor a deep and abiding affection for Arnold Lobel. You can keep your Dr. Seuss. Give me instead a man who understands the value of wry, understated humor -- humor you can unwrap in layers. A child might think it's silly that Toad wants to write everything on a list and then cross it off -- an adult laughs knowingly, understanding that impulse with perfect sympathy. And so on. Every story in the Frog and Toad collection is a gem -- Lobel doesn't skip a beat.
But the fun doesn't stop there. Did you know that Frog and Toad starred in their very own Broadway Musical? It's called A Year with Frog and Toad, and my friends, it's more fun than a barrel of chimpanzees. Think Big Band-style sound mixed with musical retellings of Frog and Toad's greatest hits. If you step into our home and hear us warbling about Toad looking funny in a bathing suit or crowing, "IIIIIII am not AFRAAAAAAAAIIIID! Well, I am, but I'll be brave!" -- no need for alarm. We're just channeling our amphibious friends.
Mr. Lobel's lesser-known works turn out to be just as steeped in both subtle and uproarious wit. Here are a couple favorites:
Owl at Home (I Can Read Book 2)
Mouse Tales (I Can Read Book 2)
Uncle Elephant (I Can Read Book 2)
They're all a treat. Do yourself a favor and share one with the nearest child in your life. If that child happens to be you, so be it. Permission to giggle aloud hereby granted.
[Disclaimer: When I was high school, my childhood friend Joe told me that I had an "odd" and "acute" sense of humor. Just thought you should have all the relevant facts before proceeding.]
P.S. This post is linked to SteadyMom's 30 Minute Blog Challenge. Whew! Right under the wire, too!