Saturday, October 27, 2007

out of the loop

Though Isaac has decided to forego his past habit of entering the library at a run screaming “TRUUUUUCK!!!!! BOOOOOOOK!!!!!” at the top of his lungs, he still expects that these bastions of literacy be equipped with an unending supply of books on vehicles of large proportions and the holy scripture on which his religion is based is a slim volume titled My Truck Is Stuck. My open-minded child is not opposed to reading books that aren’t about trucks, but while on site, it isn’t his mission to deal in such things.

Any library visit involves Isaac pulling book after book off the shelf in search of trucks, and me lagging behind him pulling off anything that looks like maybe it could contain a story or theme of interest or at least is nicely illustrated. Since I am usually trying to keep him from unshelving the entire children’s section, I don’t look very carefully at the books I’m grabbing. Often, when I get them home they are not so hot. The pool of horrible kids’ books is wide and deep.

Some of you may be familiar with Elmer the patchwork elephant who stars in his own series. I knew of Elmer, had seen the stuffed toy, and even own a bilingual board book about his colors that I quite like. And sometimes when you get to know someone too well, it ruins everything.

Apparently, Elmer has a cousin – Wilbur. Wilbur is checkered (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Wilbur is also, apparently, a ventriloquist.

Now, some women complain that they feel divorced from the professional world after having kids and leaving the workforce for a while, like they are out of the loop and haven’t kept up with new developments. Has something crazy happened in the world of literature while I was busy getting my son to 2 and a half? Have I missed something? Is this now a common or useful literary device? – to supply your patchwork elephant with a family member who can throw his voice?

The set up was smooooth. It went something like “Wilbur was a ventriloquist.” Uh, yeah. So, Elmer sets off into the jungle to find Baby Elephant’s lost teddy bear. He talks to the lions, the tigers, and a few other wild creatures, who tell him they haven’t seen the teddy bear. Then, he discovers the bear, who calls out to him “I’m lost! I’m lost!” to which Elmer responds in utter shock, “You can talk?” But don’t be silly, it was Wilbur, his black and white checkered cousin ventriloquist playing a trick. Whew. For a minute there, I thought they were going to step over the line and ask me to suspend belief in a way I just wasn’t ready to.

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