Just a Barn Book

    My second child is very different from my first – in almost every way, it seems. It shouldn’t surprise me. Of course each person is different. I guess I just didn’t realize the differences would present themselves so early on.  Before he can even talk, he shows preferences for books that my daughter used to push to the side. Perhaps because of that, I, too haven’t presented some of the books I’d assumed he wouldn’t be interested in. But, to my surprise, he keeps reaching for Big Red Barn each night. Initially, I didn’t think there was anything particularly special about this book. It’s a story about animals (the children are out of sight) – frolicking and playing on a farm, before it is time for them to all go to sleep at the end of the day. My son loves to point out each of the animals – perhaps he likes the illustrations – simple and bold. Maybe it’s the calming way they all head up to the barn to go to sleep. Lately he loves to point to the moon on the last page. The book has grown on me. As with any book we read again and again, I’ve begun to pick up on small details I’d overlooked the first few reads. On the page where the bats fly out of the barn at the end of the day, there is a small (tiny) cluster of bats on the upper right corner of the page. You might miss it if you don’t spend enough time looking at the page.
    Where before I’d been paraphrasing and making up some of the lines, now I feel like I owe it to the author to do justice with her words. And, some small part of me feels like my son knows when I’m cheating. Though I’ve been asking for book recommendations all year, it occurred to me that he was urging me to take a second look – to think more about a book I’d initially overlooked. This idea reminds me of a line from Patti Smith’s memoir, Just Kids (which I just finished and absolutely loved, by the way). When talking about her time as a music reviewer, she writes: “I wasn’t interested in criticizing so much as alerting people to artists they may have overlooked.” That’s how I’ve always felt about books and talking about books. It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s opinion on a book – especially when they manage to make you consider the book from a different perspective. So that’s what my one-year-old has done for me. He has encouraged me to reconsider Big Red Barn and now I’m a fan. It’s a simple, soothing, poetically-charged going-to-bed-book. One often overshadowed by its popular older sister: Goodnight Moon (or perhaps younger, don’t know which was published first?). But there it is…

What we’re reading now: Last night my daughter dug up the My Pretty Pink Counting Purse

Why: You know how I feel about this one, but in the spirit of reconsidering, I noticed on the back cover last night that the book is published by a small press in the English Countryside called Make Believe Ideas, that appears to be extremely eco-friendly. From their site:

We manufacture with paper from sustainable forests.
Whenever possible, we print with renewable biodegradable soya inks.
We check our suppliers’ working conditions.

                                          We believe in recycling waste and saving energy

So perhaps this is standard in this business, but I just tried to find that kind of transparance on Melissa and Doug’s web site, and I couldn’t….I guess you can’t judge a book by its cover:)

What I’m looking for:  Quality self-published books…

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