Sunday, April 18, 2010


When Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm were little tykes, there were few things in the way of Family Activities we enjoyed more than Reading Aloud.

Back as far as Toddler Days, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I would read to the girls. Little Golden Books featuring Cookie Monster and Grover were huge favorites... as were others such as Bembelman’s Bakery, Eloise, and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

[It took them twenty-seven years, but Hollywood finally figured out a way to bring that story to the big screen... and completely fuck it up in the process. The book, written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by her (then) husband Ron Barrett, is utterly charming. The movie? Not so much.]

We would read, read, read those books until our throats were hoarse - and then we’d read some more. The girls never tired of hearing ’em.

Elder Daughter, even back in her toddlerhood, had a frighteningly prodigious memory. After hearing a story only once or twice, she could quote great swaths of it at the slightest provocation. This posed no problem with tales such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit and other components of the Beatrix Potter oeuvre, but the day came when a two-year-old Elder Daughter (at the time, Only Daughter) proceeded to recite the entire text of perhaps the most politically incorrect story of all time - Little Black Sambo - to the eleven-year-old African-American girl sitting next to her on our flight from New York to Atlanta. Things might have gotten a bit sketchy had Elder Daughter’s elocution been a bit clearer... but as it was, SWMBO and I were trying to decide how both of us could fit underneath the seats in front of us.

As the girls grew older, so did our choice of Read-Aloud material change. On long car trips, we would read weighty tomes like Great Expectations and Gulliver’s Travels, the latter being one of the all-time great satirical novels.

The girls were greatly entertained... although SWMBO was horrified to learn that “Pumblechook” was actually the name of a Dickens character, not merely a deliberately mispronounced descriptor for a certain type of Body Hair.

Many years have gone by since Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm lived at home. Reading aloud is one of those family activities that has gone by the wayside... hopefully to be resumed when, at some unknowable future date, the Missus and I are blessed with grandchildren. And yet...

...a few evenings ago, the Mistress stopped by for an overnight sojourn, and out came the old Eloise books. And now it was her turn to read aloud. To us.

Reading Eloise
“Nanny says she would rawther I didn’t
talk talk talk all the time
She always says everything 3 times
like Eloise you cawn’t cawn’t cawn’t
Sometimes I hit her on the ankle with a tassel
She is my mostly companion”

Ooooooooooooooooooo, I absolutely love The Plaza

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