Possibly the most raggedy set of books in the house is the pile of Dr Seuss books on a shelf in the entrance hall. I like the scruffy aesthetic of the yellow and red spines. The other day, my daughter – who is ten and reads big, fat rather advanced novels for young adults – asked me to take them down for her to look at, because she can’t reach them where they are.
This reminded me of how, when the children were tots and other mothers came to the house with their own babes, they would get all tense and upset whenever their kidlets scooted over to the shelves on fat-nappied bottoms to pull out the books. This is inevitable. Books and babies are locked into a mysterious magnetic relationship. I just haven’t found any scientific study yet to confirm this. On more than one occasion the mothers would take the books out of the babies hands and I would reassure them that it wasn’t necessary.
“But aren’t you scared they get damaged?”
I’m more frightened by undamaged books. A pristine book is an unread book and frankly, that’s just a travesty.
I used to keep children’s books and adult paperbacks I wasn’t precious about on the lowest shelves. I still mostly do, even though we seldom have babies or toddlers around here anymore. I put them there so that they CAN be easily reached.
Anyhoo, back to the unreachable Dr Seuss books. I took the pile down and handed them to my daughter who settled them on her stomach on the couch and began to read. In between she told me that when she was little she used to fantasise and fervently wish that she could turn into a character in one of the books. Particularly, she’d always hoped to become, even just for a short while, Kitty O’Sullivan Krauss “in her big balloon swimming pool over her house”.
We agreed frantically that actually it was hard to choose which Dr Seuss page you’d want to be on: take a drive in Bumble-boat with Marvin K. Mooney? Indulge in some Schlopp? Schlopp. Beautiful schlopp. Beautiful schlopp with a cherry on top? Be in one of the various fantastical vehicles that go to the Right?
Tripping into, through and on Dr Seuss is one of those pleasures you can never outgrow.