Thursday, March 15, 2012


Don Freeman

Some picture books are still around because we're all too sentimental to give them a gentle nudge into obscurity. After all, if I loved it so much as a kid, surely little Sammy will, too. But that's not always the case. Different time periods produce different people, to some extent. Our children have seen far more images (and moving ones, at that) than we had at their tender age. Text is written and communicated differently, too. Some older picture books don't reach contemporary kids the same way that they reached those same children's parents or grandparents.

BUT, some books DO stand the test of time.... Corduroy (and A Pocket for Corduroy) are just such books. I am amazed each time I reread these gems: Freeman "gets" preschoolers. The text and illustrations are pitch perfect. Seeing Corduroy's little ears poking out of the blankets on the big bed in the department store, looking at the inevitable discovery in the laundromat--perfect. What a tender testimony to love, acceptance, belonging. Freeman manages to achieve just the right amount of tension for a preschooler (a lost button, the desire for a pocket) and then wraps it all up with just enough ending to restore balance. It's also a rare book from this time period that showcases a family that is nonwhite, non house dwelling, non dual parent--and three cheers for Freeman managing to do this without making the books agenda driven.

(I wrote this post quite a while ago--don't know why I didn't "publish" it; but my apologies for no credits for the cover image....)

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