June 9, 2009

Very Best Children’s Books for “Talking Book” by Diane McKenzie

All the best kid books are wonderful for adults too. I looked at some of our family’s favorites to see if there was some theme – something that made these ones we loved. It seems that all of them have a certain sense of humor – the authors, the characters and the books themselves don’t take themselves too seriously. They are also all quotable – be it a few words or several sentences there are pieces of each book that are perfect comments on life and these quotes can be used over and over to express a whole range of ideas and as a way of describing or reacting to certain situations. We called this use of quotes from our favorite books “talking book”.

I no longer have copies of these books (part of the early inheritance for children and grandchildren) so the wording is totally from memory and I may not have it exactly right – but we still “talk book” a lot when we are together (and also in email) and need just the right words for a given situation.

Frog and Toad Together, by Arnold Lobel (also a read along record)
Frog and Toad are wonderful and I believe they are still appreciated today. Our favorite story was “Cookies”. Frog and Toad tell each other, “We have to stop eating cookies!” and they try everything to keep themselves away from the cookies. In the end they have to feed the cookies to the birds. I also liked the garden story because it is a beautiful and wonderful idea to play violin for your plants.

Mouse Tales, by Arnold Lobel
The story of “The Journey” (I believe mouse is going to visit his grandmother) is famous in our family and anyone who knows us well knows this story. When mouse starts out to visit his grandmother he first wears out his car, then his bicycle, then his roller skates, his shoes, and finally his feet. Each time that something wears out there is a “Man by the side of the road selling…..” We loved to say “And he walked and he walked and walked…” When he wears out his feet, lo and behold, there is a “Man by the side of the road selling feet. Such a practical thing that I don’t know why the American enterprise system hasn’t adopted it. We often looked for this guy when our feet wear out and sometimes it helps get us just that little bit further when we are really tired.

Throw a Kiss Harry, by Mary Chalmers
Like the first two books, this is a set of stories. We use many, many lines from Harry but part of what is important is the look on the faces of Harry and of his mom. The mom’s comments are so, well so “mom-ish”. One line we quote a lot is, “Any other time he would.” (And of course we see that Harry DOES even though his mom doesn’t) Being the “best taster” is also a big hit still.

The Littlest Rabbit, by Robert Krauss
My younger daughter was very little so this book had a lot of appeal. How can you not love that “He wasn’t even as big as a carrot.”

Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastman
I read this book 8,373 times and I never got tired of the line “I am a cow.” Said the Cow. This book is pretty well known and everyone who ever missed his mom knows why. It also brings up the point, that a good book can be read 8,373 times and still be fresh and good.

The Fat Cat, a Danish Folktale, by Margaret MacDonald
The illustrations in the original book were wonderful – especially Skolinkinlot and Skohottentot – and who doesn’t like to say those names together. When we have eaten a lot we still say “And I ate the gruel and the pot and the old woman too, and now I am going to also eat YOU.” And if you are really good you can say the ENTIRE set of things the little cat ate in ONE breath.

Pierre, by Maurice Sendak
Parent’s really do sound like this: “If you would only say you care, we’ll let you fold the folding chair.” It always makes me laugh and it rang in my ears whenever I started to make equally patently stupid bargains. My kids always knew whose turn it was to get to say, “I Don’t Care!”

Winnie Pooh, by A A Milne
We were/are Winnie the Pooh lovers. The old line drawings lovers. I read these aloud to both girls from the time they were very little. Later they read them to me. Life is full of situations when you need a Poohism. One of our very favorites is
“Would you like honey or condensed milk with your bread? Asked Rabbit.
“Both.” Said Pooh. “But never bother about the bread.”

Of course there are many books we use when we “talk book,” But these are some of our favorites I would love to hear your favorite “talk book” quotes.


Katherine said...

Diane, I love this question of which books we "talk" in our family. A few jump to my mind. Firstly, from an obscure story by Richard Scary, whose title I've forgotten, we still ask: "Now why did the cat do that?"

I think Hagrid from Harry Potter is a pretty darn good parent: huge, steady, concerned, and empowering. I think of him and often say to the children, "All right there, Harry?"

Brock Cole wrote The Giant's Toe. I find a million uses for the phrase: "I'm helping", said the Toe.

Also, I think Arnold Lobel is brilliant. I quoted him here on the blog a while back, so I embedded a link in your post. (Hope that's ok.)

Thanks for writing here, Diane. I enjoy your posts so much!

Joe Williams said...

Great post, Diane. Naturally, my talking books are about the same as Katherine's. We also quote pretty heavily from Wind in the Willows -- one of my favorite books ever -- borrowing from the Water Rat's line about the joys of "simply messing about in boats. Simply messing..." And somehow, the Rat's description of a dry river bank smelling like plum cake manages to come up in conversation all the time. I guess we wander around river banks a fair amount, though... Going waaaaay back to the toddler/board book era, there was a bizarre Where's Spot book, where Spot is searching for his mom. A turtle under the floor rug instructs Spot to "Try the basket," which we started reading in a demented voice over time. I guess because of exhaustion. Or dementia. Any way, "Try the basket" has become a good substitute for "I don't know" in our house. Thanks Diane!

Heather said...

Are You My Mother? was read to me 8,373 times when I was a child. It was always one of my favorites. I've read it to my kids at least that many times too. Over the many years, different voices have developed for each character (our favorite is the dog). The same thing happened with Go Dog Go. "Do you like my hat?" is kind of an inside joke, used when someone looks completely silly and ridiculous and knows it.

We also borrow phrases from Alice in Wonderland often. "Move down, clean cups, more tea.." while making room on the couch for one more person. "Curiouser and curiouser" is another favorite.