so. board books are weird. here are a few that are part of ramona’s regular rotation.
a classic of the genre, right? they even had a copy of this one on the parent shelf in the NICU. i’m sure some of us were read this book when we were babies. but personally, i find this book somewhat disturbing.
it’s the tale of two rabbits–i assume that they are father & child? the child rabbit wants to tell its dad how much it loves him. every time it thinks it has found an example that encompasses the enormity of its love, the father replies with an even larger example. the baby rabbit says, “i love you all the way to the moon!” & the father rabbit says, “i love you all the way to the moon…& back.” they just keep ratcheting up the stakes, & there is some narration from the child rabbit’s perspective, as it tries to think of an example larger than the counter-example just proffered by the father rabbit.
what the fuck is up with this? why are they competing over how much they love each other? why can’t the father rabbit just say, “that’s very sweet. i love you too”? also, they are persistently described as “nut brown hares,” over & over. nut brown hare this & nut brown hare that. i do not like to say those words.
this book sends the bizarre message that love a) can be quantified & b) is a contest.
this is a pretty simple book, told from the perspective of a baby bird narrating the components of its nest–you know, mud & sticks & crap like that. it ends with the heartwarming information that the nest is also full of the baby bird’s family, which make the nest extra warm & loving. it’s very sweet.
best of all, the little bird on the cover is actually a finger puppet. the pages of the book are cut out so the puppet can be manipulated as you read the book to your baby. ramona just entered the “grabbing shit & trying to stuff it in her mouth” phase of development, so she goes fucking bananas for this goddamn puppet. jared has started augmenting the story thusly: “here in my nest…AUUUGGGH NOOOOOO HELP STOP EATING ME!” ramona has no clue what he’s talking about, but i find it hilarious.
this book…is terrible. it’s not really part of the regular rotation because it’s such an awful book, but i wanted to comment on it anyway.
embarrassingly, i feel like i would have been really into this book if i’d had a baby when i was like 24 or something. it’s very earnest & kind of strident. i’ve never been the most earnest person on the block, but strident? oh yeah. i was probably the most strident anarchist on the eastern seaboard for most of my 20s. the words “absolutely unbearable” come to mind.
it would have been okay if it was like, “A is for activist, B is for banner drop,” whatever, & the parent/caretaker gets to explain the meaning of these words to the kid. but instead, the author writes these kind of incoherent little rhymes about what each letter stands for, from his own weird perspective. like, “a feminist fights for fundamental rights/choice in our future/fairness in our pay/the freedom to flourish/in each & every way.” it sounds all right, i guess, until you start picking it apart–& hello! has the author every met a child? kids pick stuff apart, it’s like their entire job description. “mommy what’s a fundamental right? what does choice mean? what’s fair pay? what does flourish mean?” how do you explain this stuff?
i also feel that this is a very limited definition of feminism. fair pay & “choice”?
or how’ bout, “healthy food is a human right/honeydew, jicama, havarti cheese, hummus, hot dogs/hot dogs?!/yes! healthy hot dogs please! (& pizza)” what? what’s jicama? what kid is eating havarti cheese? healthy hot dogs? look, i have a weakness for hot dogs & will eat them at barbecues or baseball games, but even the “healthiest” versions are not really all that healthy.
but one of my least favorite pages is “T is for trans/tulips, tassels, tigers/tractors & tiaras/trust in the true:/the he she they that is you!” what. the. fuck. does that even mean? tassels? tractors? huh? i guess these are things a child might like to play with, but which may be considered gendered? but…tigers? i really don’t get it.
but one of the most confusing things about this book is that it’s a board book. board books are designed to be chewable, & kids usually learn to stop putting their books in their mouths by the time they are like two or three. what two-year-old is going to understand the stuff in this book? some of it is very esoteric. i get that a lot of it is probably more for the pleasure of the adult doing the reading, but shouldn’t the child be able to comprehend it to some degree? & sure, an older kid might still enjoy looking at/reading board books from when they were little, but some of this shit would still probably be confusing for a middle schooler, & there is no middle schooler that is still paging through their board books.
another classic of the genre. a zookeeper is making his last rounds for the night, checking on the animals & saying goodnight before heading home to bed. but he doesn’t realize that the gorilla has stolen his key ring & is following behind him, releasing each animal as he says goodnight. they then follow him home & into his bedroom, where they attempt to go to sleep. the jig is up when the zookeeper’s wife says goodnight to him & all of the animals reply in kind. she marches them all back to the zoo…but doesn’t notice that the gorilla has escaped yet again & is following her home!
very cute, but damn. this zookeeper is like the worst zookeeper ever. it’s truly staggering how much he sucks at his job. the animals also appear to be shut in cages, rather than in habitats, which is sad & old-fashioned. but i have a theory: when the zookeeper heads home, he leaves the zoo gates & walks across a small park area & then directly into his house. so…there’s no parking lot? how do people visit this zoo? if the only people that can visit are people who live within walking distance, the zoo is probably struggling with its revenue stream & must not have the financing to build specialized animal habitats. no wonder the animals are so hot to sleep in the zookeeper’s bedroom.
the gorilla is also constantly being followed by a mouse carrying a banana. is the mouse a manservant to the gorilla, toting around his snacks? is the banana a peace offering the mouse keeps on-hand in case the gorilla ever starts to looking like maybe it wants to kill the mouse? is the banana a snack for the mouse? that’s a pretty big snack.
we have all the touch & feel books. i really like them. my favorite page in this book is, of course, the white cat. it’s so soft! however, this is obviously a book for babies who are learning about touch & different textures & what-not (& colors). ramona is a non-stop drool machine. that soft white cat isn’t going to stay soft & white for long with lady mcdroolfingers hanging around. it’s going to get all gray & matted pretty quickly. & if ramona doesn’t decide to give the cat’s fur a little trim with her safety scissors sometime around age 2, i will be shocked. so…let’s just say this book maybe won’t make a great hand-me-down. it probably would have helped to make the white cat black–hide some of the inevitable baby stains.