Picture books. I’ve loved them since before Mom read The Pokey Little Puppy to Leo and me. I just learned it is the best selling picture book ever. When I saw this book in the New York City Library’s exhibit about The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter, I was in for a surprise. I sat down on one of their big green blocks and read it for the first time in years.
I thought The Pokey Little Puppy was about how bad it is to be late. It’s really about having adventures, but coming home in time for dinner. Or maybe it’s about minding your mother. Or treating others the way you want to be treated. Or treating others the way they treat you? Not really about being late or being slow or dawdling though. No, not so much.
In fact the book points out the rewards of dawdling pretty convincingly, at least to me. I really think dawdling gets a bad rap. In this story, the pokey little puppy’s nose to the ground dawdling provides clues to strawberry shortcake and rice pudding for supper! I know my dawdling has gotten me down the path of creativity more than once. But that’s not the only lesson in picture books.
A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban is a wonderful story about friendship and trust. Where the Wild Things Are is about unconditional love and again, exploring. In the end Max comes home in time to find his supper still hot. I miss having Maurice Sendak on this earth so much!
And one of the wisest authors I know is Arnold Lobel, who wrote Ming Lo Moves the Mountain and Fables. Both books teach lessons about acceptance, parenthood, and positive attitude. All told with tongue tucked firmly into cheek.
Sitting cross-legged on the floor in the library or book store? Lying in bed at nap time? On your stomach in the grass? I think there must be 1000 ways to enjoy a picture book!