Over the last two years, THE WIFE and I have read our fair share of children’s books to the kids. The most common book we’ve read to the kids are the ABC books. We’re pros now. Basically, all you need to tell me is the theme of the book and whatever letter happens to be on the page you’re viewing, and I can predict with good probability what word matches the letter described.
For example, E is rarely anything but an elephant or an egg, the O is almost uncannily an octopus, and the Z is either a zebra or a zipper. A is almost always an apple, B is often a ball, and Y is a yo-yo 99% of the time. X is mostly an x-ray, though xylophones and “x” marks the spot are making strong showings as of late.
The other night, Gigi snagged “A is for Annabelle” by Tasha Tudor, which happens to be an ABC book that totally throws a knuckler at my ability to predict the word for each letter. The original copyright is 1954, which gives some perspective. This book just intrigues me every time it’s in the night reading rotation.
First of all, the dedication just sets the tone. It makes me chuckle like Beavis and Butthead. “To dearest Muff…” I make sure I read that clearly every time just to put a little adolescent smirk on my face.
A, as one may suspect, is for Annabelle. From here, I’ll just touch on the words that will in all likelihood never appear again in future ABC books.
C is for cloak. Unless you’re Nina Garcia’s niece or a really big Harry Potter fan, this word is not likely to be in the 2011 child’s early vocabulary.
K is for kerchiefs. Whenever I think of this word, it reminds me of sitting in a pew during mass one Sunday as a kid with a runny nose. My dad, of course, was prepared and had a handkerchief in his pocket to help me out. The hankie, though, was crusty and hurt my nose when I placed my nostrils to it, so the thoughtful gesture actually worsened the loose mucus situation on my face and I should have just used my sleeve in the first place. Anyway, that was probably 1983 and officially the last time I ever put a man tissue on my nose.
M is for – yes again(!) – muff. Spectacularly, this euphemism for pubic hair that triggers suppressed giggles in adolescent boys and immature 36 year-old men alike, appears for the second time in the book. I can guarantee you will never find that occurrence in any book published in the 21st century. By the way, a muff is a brown, furry uni-mitten that “is so warm and so cosy.” Great stuff.
N is for nosegay. Hmm, you say? Oh, it’s a “bright fragrant posy.” Of course.
O is for overskirt. As if it’s not difficult enough to dress my daughter in a t-shirt and shorts, I couldn’t fathom having to put this seemingly superfluous piece of material on top of a dress. Thankfully, we live in 2011 Southeastern Massachusetts and not south of the Mason-Dixon line in the 1860's.
P is a parasol. Again, unless a toddler happens to catch a Project Runway repeat featuring one as a runway accessory, “parasol” isn’t making a kid’s top 1000 most frequently spoken words. First of all, umbrellas clearly own this product’s market share. Second of all, tan is in – fair skin is out. See Snookie/Jersey Shore and spray tanning.
T is for tippet, or some kind of a shawl I think. Saying the word out loud reminds me of whip-its. Also known as hippie crack. You know, five bucks a nitrous balloon at Phish concerts. Wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa. So lightheaded and funky for like ten seconds. You feel like you’re on the verge of passing out. Right? I mean, not that I’ve ever tried. Just heard about it – from my buddy. George Glass. He’s not from around here so you don’t want to waste your time tracking him down. Anyways, moving on.
Last, but not least, Z is not for zebra. Z is for zither. A stringed instrument that lies flat on a table. Strangely, this IS something I could see becoming more commonplace in the 21st century. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lady Gaga had a zither player on the payroll for her Monster Ball tour.
That concludes my first official children’s book review. Based on Gigi’s impressions to “A is for Annabelle” combined with my muffled amusement, I give this a final rating of 4 out of 5 stars.