Lost in Wonderland

This is quite possibly the most exciting gift I have ever received, by proxy that is. Thanks to Iris’ most wonderful and almost psychic godmother, we now have one of the most beautiful books ever in our library. I was at least ten times more excited than Iris when she was presented the book.

Robert Sabuda is THE leading children’s pop-up book artist and paper engineer. Seriously, is there a more awesome job than doing cut and paste for a living?! Among his repertoire of absolutely, jaw-dropping gorgeous creations, Alice in Wonderland is one of his best. This is one post where words are basically useless and I have gone crazy with my phone camera. I still have the most ridiculous grin whenever I see it.

Disclaimer: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, LET ANYONE WHO WOULD CAUSE THIS BOOK ANY HARM TOUCH IT BECAUSE IF ANY OF THIS BREAKS YOU WILL CRY. Or at least I will.

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Guess How Much I Love Winning?

I have never, ever, ever, ever won anything. I’m not talking about for sports, because I had to work, a little, for those. I’m talking about those supermarket lucky draws, travel draws, the hundreds of Frankie magazine giveaways, etc. Zip, nada, zero. This changed in the most appropriate and wonderful way possible last Tuesday.

It was not a great day for me and I was as cheerful as a baby breaking molars. Then I received an email saying I’d won a 20th anniversary edition of Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram’s Guess How Much I Love You from Walker Books Australia.

This was one of those competitions where you have to write something related to the prize. This one was to write 25 words about “Who you love to the moon and back”. Now I’d seen the tweet for this on February 11. I dithered about it until the weekend. Then finally I took about 10 minutes to write: A monkey. A drama queen. A wet kiss. An adorable cackle and guffaw. A marshmallow and chocolate nut. A performer. My four-year-old daughter, Iris.

This is how excited I was. I took a photograph of an envelope.

This is how excited I was. I took a photograph of an envelope.

I absolutely did not expect to win. Particularly not on a day like the 17th of February, which is what made it all the better. I see it now as a special message from the Guy in charge to me.

First published in 1994 and coming it at about 400 words, this timeless story pretty much encapsulates the most important and really the only thing we need to do as parents – let our kids know how much we love them. Jeram’s illustrations are so perfectly matched, they make you feel like you’re reading honey and warm milk. No review necessary. The title says everything, but to fully appreciate this book, you have to read it yourself.

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Much too often these days I notice how much Iris has grown up. I catch my breath and try and take a mental polaroid of each moment. Just like with her clothes, I’ve been passing on some of her baby books and have been trying to expand her listening skills by reading more wordy books. I forget that sometimes, she still needs those books that seem simpler with less words but with such a powerful message. Just as reading it will remind me how much God loves me, enough to send me a message when I’m feeling especially low, I hope that years from now, Iris will read this book and know that I love her right up to the moon and back.

 

Wicked Morals

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One of the things I love most about children’s books is just how funny they can be without trying very hard. Sometimes, however, they can be downright hilarious. When I picked up I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, I did not expect to be cackling like a deranged hyena in the middle of Kinokunia in Kuala Lumpur, much to the amusement of my daughter and embarrassment of my husband.

Yes, it’s that funny. Not in a someone-farted-at-the-wrong-moment kind of way, but in a pretty evil way if you really think about it. It’s like adding fois gras to macaroni and cheese. So the joke is really more for us parents, which is becoming more common but still rare enough to be appreciated when encountered. I was so impressed with how much tickling power it possessed, I made several adult friends and two teenage nieces read it. While I stood over them, bouncing from foot to foot waiting for them to reach the punch line. Finally when they snorted chortles, I grinned, repeating “it’s funny right, right?” and bashed their shoulders with my elbow in a friendly manner.

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When reading it to Iris, I thoroughly enjoy giving voices to each of the animals as the text is simple and able to bring out the beautiful deadpan humour to great effect. The illustrations by Klassen absolutely match the style and plot being unadorned but subtly detailed.

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It also teaches two important lessons:

1. Treasure your stuff

2. Do NOT steal stuff, especially not from big, furry bears with unhealthy attachments to said stuff.

While Iris does not necessarily get the implied off-page carnivorous retribution, which I’m in no hurry to explain, she understands the plot and is very empathetically happy for bear when he finds his hat again.

There really isn’t any other way to describe how excellent this book is without you reading it or my telling you what happens. It’s quite famous having won several awards so you should be able to find it in most bookshops, but if you want to know just what the heck it’s about anyway, read on.

Bear loses his hat. He goes around asking everyone whether they’ve seen it. He comes across rabbit who is wearing a hat. Rabbit denies vehemently having seen the hat. “I would not steal a hat. Don’t ask me anymore questions.” Bear, being a typical blundering ursine creature says, “Ok. Thank you anyway” and carries on.

When he’s finally despairing of ever finding his hat, deer comes along and prompts bear into remembering he had seen his hat. He rushes back to confront the thief.

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Bear is resplendently happy having been united with his crimson head adornment. Squirrel comes looking for rabbit. Bear denies vehemently having seen any rabbit.

“I would not eat a rabbit. Don’t ask me anymore questions.”

“Ok. Thank you anyway.”

“I love my hat.”