Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mr Popper's Penguins

At ten o'clock, Mrs. Popper yawned and laid down her mending. "Well, you can go on reading about those heathen birds, but I am going to bed. Tomorrow is Thursday, September thirtieth, and I have to go to the first meeting of the Ladies' Aid Missionary Society."

"September thirtieth!" said Mr. Popper in an excited tone. "You don't mean today is Wednesday, September twenty-ninth?...Why, this is the night the Drake Antarctic Expedition is going to start broadcasting."
(Mr. Popper's Penguins, Richard and Florence Atwater)

Before I had children, I most looked forward to reading chapter books aloud to them. My older son is now five plus, and we have started reading books I really enjoy aloud (no slight intended to all the beautiful picture books in the world, but after years of the same stories, it was nice to have a change). Winnie the Pooh was our proto-chapter book, and then we made our way through the first few Little House books over the course of the summer. But On the Banks of Plum Creek dragged out, and I wanted a break before we continued the series. Enter Charlotte's Web, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Stuart Little, and Mary Poppins. My mother believed it was immodest for a girl to read books written from a boy's perspective, so I have enjoyed discovering Farmer Boy, The Door in the Wall, The Sign of the Beaver, and Adam of the Road as an adult.

But in the midst of all this delight, I am a little wistful, because I picked up most of these books as library discards. I can't but help sympathize with Tuppence:

"Well, that's very kind of you, I'm sure, Mrs. Beresford. Of course, we do have some [special editions for children nowadays] given to us, you know... One does feel it's a pity that they should have to read all those old-fashioned books."

"Oh, do you think so," said Tuppence. "I loved the books I had as as child. Some of them...had been my grandmother's when she was a child. I believe I liked those best of all."
(Postern of Fate, Agatha Christie)

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