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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Lichtenheld’

My kids have loved books from the moment they were able to put their hands on them. Seeing mom and dad read all day, it’s kind of understandable. Although the youngest of both (9 months old) is still in his discovering stage (basically savoring all the flavors literature can offer), my 2 year old simply loves snuggling in my arms while I read to him. He loves books so much that along with sleeping with his huge bunny, Curious George and a small little monkey he’s had since he was 1, he has to sleep with a book. Hidden behind his door I’ve heard how he goes page by page looking at the pictures of the stories he has so many times heard and only then does he rest his head to sleep.

And the bedtime ritual has, for now, two favorites: “Goodnight Moon” and “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site”.

I’ll start with “Goodnight Moon”. Published in 1947 by Harper & Row, this is an all time classic. All who have read the book probably remember with warmth the famous beginning: “In the great green room there was a telephone. And a red balloon. And a picture of – …” Most nights my husband and I read it to our firstborn before he goes to bed. My husband loves the end of the book: “Goodnight noises everywhere.”  It’s easy to imagine why after a hard day at work… The entire story takes place in the great green room. Margaret Wise Brown (author) and Clement Hurd (illustrations) have the ability to get us in the mood with a simple language and plain drawings. We see the little bunny saying goodnight to the world as he knows it at the same time that he tries to postpone the inevitable: going to bed. The light in the room gets dimmer. The noises all around begin to quiet. The bunny tucks in bed as the old lady whispers “hush”. And by the last page, not only my son, but also my husband and I wish we could lay our heads on our pillows and sleep.

I admit I have only read “Goodnight Moon” and “Runaway Bunny” from Wise Brown. But according to her official Website (www.margaretwisebrown.com), although she died quite young (when she was 42) she wrote over a hundred books. I guess I’ll have to check into that. It’s sad to see that someone who wrote so many children’s books came from a broken family and that she never had any child of her own.

“Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site” (2011) arrived at our house thanks to my husband. Just like me, he loves reading. He’s a philosopher (although he never admits it, he says he’s a philosophy teacher, but the truth is, he’s my renaissance man with a philosophical mind) and he values knowledge with humbleness and greatness (one of the many reasons why I fell in love with him). So he’s always looking into books: books about philosophy, books about Catholicism, books about motherhood and parenting, books about his numerous hobbies, literature books, books about homeschooling and, of course, books for our kids. That’s how one late night he showed me in Amazon “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site”. I had never heard of it. But I do know my son and have come to acknowledge the fascination he has with trucks and constructions. It was perfect. We bought it with a click. When the magic little box arrived, it was a lazy Thursday. We had been walking most of the morning with my two kids. The baby was fast asleep and the oldest was eating a cheese sandwich. When the doorbell rang I knew what was coming. So I left my son waiting and answered the door. As soon as the deliveryman was gone, I looked at my son and he looked, well, not at me precisely, but at the box. He didn’t say anything. But my guess is that he knew there was something in there for him. So I opened the box and told him “oooohhhh, look what arrived!” Immediately he saw the pictures and simply had to hold the book in his perfect little hands. Laughing with excitement he stared at the pictures and pointed at all the trucks and machinery he knows so well. Gently he padded the book with his palm indicating me that it was absolutely necessary that I read the book to him. “We’ll read it before your nap”. And we did. And we both fell in love. The drawings are beautiful and the text fits perfectly in all its rhyme. The story complements the illustrations flawlessly to the point that one can feel the atmosphere and imagine how the day comes to an end, the activities stop and the trucks relax their bodies in order to sleep. Sherri Duskey Rinker, the author, wrote an essay for Amazon. In it she explains how she has been a book lover as far as she can remember. It seems that her grandmother had a great deal to do with it. And about “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site”, just a few words she wrote: “Inspired by my youngest son’s tireless (literally!) obsession with trucks, I wrote Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site in stolen moments during the workday and late at night, after the boys were tucked in.” Later on, she refers to how she got to work with Tom Lichtenheld (illustrator): “And there it was: classic, timeless and tender, with just a touch of whimsy. My crane truck, a distant, younger cousin to Mike Mulligan, perhaps? My heart melted. I was won over.

So there it was: nothing like I imagined. But it was better. I’ve come to learn that some of the best things in life–like marriage and motherhood–are like that.” Nothing more to add. Sherri Duskey Rinker has said it all.

 

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