BookTalk: More Please, The Hungry Animal Book


Dorothy Kunhardt is famous for writing Pat the Bunny. She also wrote More Please, which we discovered via Baguette’s speech therapist and may be the most maddening thing we own.

Baguette calls it “Make a Doggie.” I’m not sure why, because you don’t do that. You “feed” tiny pieces of posterboard shaped and colored like various items into the die-cut mouths of animals.

From a technical standpoint, I’m impressed. This was not easy to create.

From a parental standpoint, ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME????

The tiny pieces of posterboard are really tiny. Every time we read this book (and when it’s in rotation, I’m talking four or five times a day), I have to do an inventory of the parts. The text is maddeningly simplistic and sing-song. And the illustrations are just bad.

But Baguette loves it, and it definitely plays into her affection for animals.

Oh, and if you lose any of those tiny pieces? Yeah, I can’t find a replacement for less than $65 (a month ago, that price was $150). Hence the inventory.

If I didn’t like that speech therapist so much, I’d feel like she owes us an apology.

Your Mileage May Vary

This morning, when I took Baguette to daycare, she was excited to be there. She opened the door to the classroom without being prompted, and she ran up to a group of girls and started playing with the same toys they were using.

(This is HUGE. Six months ago, she would have retreated to the corner with a book. Now she chooses to play with the other kids.)

She picked up a toy ice cream cone and said, “Ice cream!” One of the other girls said, “Don’t eat it!”

I said, “Oh, it’s okay. I think she knows the difference between the toy and real ice cream.”

The girl said, “Sometimes babies put things in their mouth.”

Every child in that room is 3 or 4.

I said, “Well, she isn’t a baby.”

“Yes, she is. She can’t talk.”

One of the other little girls–we’ll call her Daisy–who has been in the same room as Baguette since they were both infants, said, “She can’t do anything.”

Baguette dropped the cone and headed for the bookshelf, where she selected Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street. It’s the book she’s most likely to pick up at school. I think I know why; it’s because no one in that book would be mean to her, with the possible exception of Oscar.

Daisy said, “Well, she knows Hebrew.”

I said, “She knows Hebrew?”

Daisy said, “Uh huh.”

I answered, “She’s still learning some things, but she’ll learn faster if you’re nice to her.”

Bestie came over to the bookshelf to hang out with Baguette, and gave her a one-armed hug.

Parenting is harder than being in your 40s.

It Could–Would–Have Been So Much Worse

Another writing prompt from Ginger at Ramble Ramble: Tell us a story from ninth grade.


Just before ninth grade, my family moved from Maryland to Texas. As far as I was concerned, it was two years too late. All my life, I’ve had a Five Year Move Clock in my head, and I always felt like we stayed places too long.

So while some kids might have found this to be a horrible time to move, I was ready. Sure, I was going to miss the friends I’d grown up with. But I was more than ready for new sights and sounds and people.

Texas provided plenty of all of those. For a girl from the outskirts of D.C., it took some getting used to. Fortunately, I had some help.

First, there was the library. I didn’t know many people for the first semester, so I went to the school library a lot. And by “a lot,” I mean three times a day. I’d go before school and check out a book to read between classes. I’d return it at lunch and get another book, which I’d read between classes. And I’d go back at the end of the day to return that book.

(I am a very fast reader.)

Second, and more importantly, there were Beth and Kelly. Those are not their real names, because on this blog, no one has a real name. Unless I tell a story about a celebrity. I’m not sure if I’ve done that. But if I do, I’ll probably use the celebrity’s name.

Beth and Kelly were friends from middle school. They, like me, had decided to join Pep Squad. I don’t know their rationales, but I joined Pep Squad because my mother thought it would be a great way for me to know people on the first day of school, and I thought it would be a great way to get out of P.E.

Pep Squad had a week of summer training for new members, and when I arrived, I knew no one. But Beth and Kelly took me under their wing (wings?) and made me part of their group. While we didn’t do all of the drills together, we did meet for lunch every day and exchange stories. Kelly invited me to her birthday party (where I discovered MTV). They welcomed me into their existing circle of friends. We had classes together. They gave me people to stand with at the bus stop at the end of the day.

And while each of them later moved and changed schools, and we lost touch, I know that they made my freshman year of school bearable. They made it possible for me to decipher a new community and find my way.

Later, I found out why all of this happened. It turned out that, before camp started, they decided that they were going to find someone who looked like she had no friends, and be her friend.

They picked me.

They were 13 years old, and they decided to make someone an insider instead of an outsider. They chose to be inclusive instead of exclusive.

We hear a lot about bullying. Maybe there would be less of it–and maybe it would be easier to endure–if we tried to get our children to think more like Beth and Kelly.

It’s not that I had no problems in high school. Of course I did. We all did. But those problems were made easier because I had a place in that school. And Beth and Kelly helped me find it, by making a conscious choice. At age 13.

Three Friends

Photo by Xiaozhuli, via Flickr. Creative Commons.

On Reading


I’ve always loved to read. I started reading on my own at age four and just kept going. I almost always have a book with me (particularly now that I have an iPod Touch with the Kindle app), and I often have multiple books going at once. I hope that Baguette will love to read–and she certainly seems to be enjoying it at the moment.

My approach with her is to let her enjoy the book in whatever way she wants to at the moment. We started by reading to her, particularly as part of a nighttime routine (oh, hey, I guess we did have one of those once). Then, she decided that we were not allowed to read to her. She would grab the book out of my or Mr. Sandwich’s hands and move away from us so that she could flip the pages on her own, narrating what she saw on the pages.

Then she started letting us read again–but now she’s open to more approaches. Sometimes we’ll read it carefully page by page. Sometimes we’ll read whatever page she wants to turn to, regardless of order. Sometimes I’ll ignore the text and ask her what she sees on the page. Since we usually read books more than once in a row, we often wind up doing all three in any reading session.

The other night I was in the kitchen, and she was in the living room. I peeked around the corner, and there she was, sitting in the middle of the rug while she flipped through Elmo’s Valentine.

I don’t care whether she reads books in print, or on a tablet, or off the inside of her eyelids if that’s the technology that is in use when she’s older. But I do hope that she always loves to read.

Photo by Mathom, via Flickr.

Read Any Good Books Lately?

It’s been a while for me–well, not that I haven’t been reading, but I haven’t been reading books about parents and/or families, or related issues. Meanwhile, Baguette has been exhibiting an interest in Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. I hope she’s not reading ahead to see how she’s expected to behave at age two. But I really wish she’d read up on sleep.

How about you? What would you recommend?

Go, Dog, Go!

Go Dog Go!

Baguette loves books, but she won’t let me read to her. She grabs the book out of my hand and goes through the pages in whatever order makes sense to her, pointing and chattering about what’s on the page.

At least, that’s what happened until Monday morning. On Monday, as I was getting her ready for day care and me ready for work, she picked up the board book version of P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog, Go! and handed it to me to read. When I asked her if she wanted to read it herself, she pushed it at me. So I read it to her, and then read it to her a second time. And I realized that now I have to build reading time into our morning.

This is tricky. In order to have time with Baguette in the evening, I have to leave work no later than 5:00. That means I have to be at work by 8:00 a.m., which means (with my commute) that I drop her off at day care at 7:00. This works as long as she’s up between 6:00 and 6:15. In order to get my morning stuff done before she’s awake, I get up at 5:30. And that’s already earlier than I want to have either of us wake up. So squeezing book time into that morning is not easy.

But she also wants me to read it to her at night. Last night, as we were trying to get her to wind down for the evening (and that is no simple task–Baguette hates to go to sleep), she had me read the book. And then read it again. And again. And again. I think I read it at least eight times, always in the slow, soothing delivery I’d normally give to something like Goodnight, Moon. Seriously, you have never known so many fast-moving dogs to travel at such a measured pace.

But as I look at the book–which I’m now a little crazy about, myself–I am struck by the illustrations in a way I haven’t been before. They really do have an energy and an excitement, and I’m starting to wonder if Dr. Seuss and the Eastmans (and possibly the Berenstains) haven’t done all of us a disservice.

Because real life just doesn’t measure up to these books.

Look at that first page, where the dogs jump out of an enormous bed. Isn’t that bed huge? Doesn’t it look like a great place to sleep? Are you that energized when you get out of your bed in the morning? I know I’m not. I don’t think I ever have been.

And the dogs who travel “by boat.” I want to hang out on that boat. It’s got a doghouse with a diving board. It’s the most awesome dog houseboat imaginable. Look how enthusiastic the swan-diving dog is!

Mostly, though, it’s the last page (spoiler alert!). Have you ever been to a party as much fun as the dog party? No, I didn’t think so. None of us have, and we probably never will. Parties are fun, but the dog party surpasses them all.

Real life. It’s just not like board books. And that’s a sad realization.

Photo by Creative Nickie, via Flickr.

Domestic Bliss

Mr. Sandwich and I are sitting on the couch, as we do. Each of us leans against one end so that both of us can stretch out. It’s cozy and good.

Just now, he has fallen asleep in front of The Colbert Report. I’d get up, but he’s holding my ankle in one hand and I don’t want to disturb him. It’s been a busy week. We both need whatever sleep we can get.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the couch this week; I stayed home sick yesterday and came home at lunchtime today. And although I’d rather feel well, the result is that I’ve been able to spend some time doing one of my favorite things: sitting on the couch and reading magazines.

It’s even better now that we have a bay window. That meant that I was also able to sit on the couch, look out the window, and watch the wind blow through the trees. It was a very windy afternoon. I’m mildly curious about what was thumping on the roof every now and then, but apparently I wasn’t curious enough at the time to see if I could spot anything.

So the combination of couch, husband, magazines, TV, view, and a cup of tea (there was also tea this afternoon) is a pretty tough combination to beat. It may not be dramatic, but it sure is good.

A Little Light Reading

Our realtors just called; apparently there has been a scheduling mix-up, and they had to cancel this Sunday’s outing. My first thought was “Oh! I can read magazines!”

I love magazines. Somehow they manage to present the perfect combination of information and fluff. If you suspect that I’m not talking about The Economist, you’re right. It’s informative, but wow, is it dense. (Although the photo captions are excellent.)

Over the years, I’ve had an astonishing number of subscriptions. Eventually, though, a magazine will run through its material, and it becomes far too obvious that the editors are trying to put a new spin on old news. After several years, for example, I wasn’t sure that Allure and Self had much more to tell me.

Sometimes the entire tone of a magazine changes. Once upon a time, Glamour used to present a cross-section of fashion, beauty, and women’s issues. Ironic? Sure. But there was a lot going on in that magazine, and I enjoyed it. At some point, though, it became a repository of reader-submitted anecdotes and Top 10 lists. And it turns out that Glamour readers have lives that I don’t really want to read about.

Over the past few years, I’ve moved toward a selection of health, home life, and cooking magazines. I like to read a magazine without interruption, which means that they generally stack up until J goes for a long bike ride.

While Women’s Health doesn’t seem to have shown up this month, and Gourmet is floating somewhere out there in the postal system, I do have Everyday Food, Prevention, and Real Simple to look forward to. Somewhere around here is this week’s copy of Time. And since tomorrow is Saturday, and Saturday means mail delivery, who knows what else may lie ahead?