100_1346This is my youngest granddaughter, Lou. At three, she is already a lifelong lover of books. Eating, sleeping, playing, reading – that’s what life is all about for her. The last six months she’s been captivated by an old Richard Scarry book of nursery rhymes. Scarry’s drawings are just so perfect: simple, whimsical, and full of little details. There is one particular drawing and rhyme that Lou is intrigued with. It goes like this:

Elsie Marley’s grown so fine

She won’t get up to feed the swine

But lies in bed ’til eight or nine

Lazy Elsie Marley

The drawing is a big two-page spread with a mommy pig (Elsie) lying in a big comfy bed, a serene smile on her face. She is surrounded by about 30 to 40 little piggies. Some of the piggies are involved in various activities but the majority are just standing around Elsie’s bed, staring at her. There is also a long table piled with a variety of breakfast foods. The details are what draw the reader in. It’s fun to play the game of “See if you can find the piggy with glasses” and so on.

 Lou is so taken with this story. She doesn’t understand why the mommy won’t get up to feed her children. She wants to see if one of the little piggies is going to drop a pile of dishes. Plus lots of other questions. When we are done reading, she will put the book aside in a special place. Later she will bring the book over to me and say, “Let’s check to see if Elsie is up yet.”

I’ve also read books where the characters are drawn in such a way that I swear they are real people. When I’m done with the book I still think about them and wonder how they are doing. In the first half of my life I gobbled up book after book. I raced through them. Now I’m slowing down and savoring my books. Since I retired I’ve set a goal to go back and re-read some of my favorite characters. 

  • Are the Boxcar Children happy living with their grandfather?
  • How are Jo and Beth and the other Little Women?
  • What grade is Turtle in now and did Taylor and Jax get married? (Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven)
  • How’s Violet Aird and the rest of the family up in Scotland?

Books have challenged my view of the world and changed the way I do things. But more than anything they have given me so much pleasure. I will continue to pick and choose among the new books. But, I will also go back and make sure my favorites are still a part of my reading life. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see if Elsie is still in bed.

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