Little man has been kicking my butt at reading classics lately. He read both of these before I could head him off and read them first. I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m well aware that this is an AWESOME “problem” to be having with my not quite six-year-old. He loved them and it will be fun to watch him re-discover them at a later date, when he is mature enough to appreciate some of the more subtle literary devices and even just the writing itself. Being all boy, he loved the story and the funny things that happened and we’ve had some fun conversations about what he would have done had he been the cricket or mouse in question having those adventures. For example, he said that he would have stayed on in Times Square and kept on learning new songs. Or he wouldn’t have been mean to Harriet after the disastrous canoe date because it wasn’t her fault and she tried to be nice. I kind of really love my son. Anyways here is what I loved about these books.
I loved that the language used is a bit old fashioned, like Stuart says “what goes on here?” instead of “what’s going on?” or the fact that Mama Bellini has a slight Italian accent and it’s written into the dialouge. I know it stretched Garyn just a bit to have that extra split second of processing. Books are definitely written in the voice of the current generation and current pop fiction shows that there is a slight de-evolution in the way that we speak, especially kids. Kids these days [shakes fist]! No, I’m kidding. But the fact that Stuart was such a dandy gentleman with his sea faring and motor car wardrobe chages, is such a contrast to modern conduct, it makes me wonder if we couldn’t stand a bit more of that. Speaking of a bit more of a certain something…I loved Mario in “The Cricket in Times Square.” He is one of those characters that I want Garyn to be good friends with. Not just because he had a great work ethic, but because he understood life in a very intuitve and generous way. I loved that he just knew what it meant when the bell was gone and ultimately he was happier because he knew that Chester was happier. I want Garyn to learn to feel that. And I say learn to feel it because I think generosity and compassion are learned behaviors. We have to make a conscious effort to think of others first and we can choose to do it until it becomes automatic. Some people start practicing early in life, while others never start. The other thing I loved was the imagery. Both of these authors do a beautiful job of painting a picture in my head and the descriptions are not complicated or overly metaphoric. They are simple. Because that’s how children see the world. I think that’s why these books are beloved by all ages…children can immediately relate because the stories are told in their native tongue, and adults love to be reminded that once upon a time they spoke that language too.
P.s. Garth Williams rocks my socks off as an illustrator. Just saying.