I’m Mark Munger, and you’re listening to Check It Out
Today, children’s books.
They line up in piles on the bedside table, then the bedside floor, and everywhere beside the bedside, always clocking in and clocking out, ready to offer their every store of strength one more time, not just their text and pictures, but the infinite questions that hide just behind their text and pictures. This is not for the weak, the simply whimsical, the untethered flights of fanciful folly that an author may imagine when the perfectly awful idea strikes them that “perhaps I could write a children’s book.” And it must appear simple.
So, the list. (Incomplete. Lets’ face it, I’ve wasted a lot of time). George and Martha by James Marshall. Any of the series will do. Each book contains 5 short stories of the two great friends, George and Martha - two hippopotamuses with a friendship that includes platonic love, joy, forgiveness, and misfired joking. What makes it better, each hippopotamus has a cohesive personality. A little one’s questions can be bounced off those personalities like spoons off the kitchen floor - George and Martha are there to hold us all up even in the messiest times. The illustrations are deceivingly simple.
Jill and Lion by Lesley Barnes. Nothing is deceivingly simple in this book. The story begins with Jill reading a book but unable to finish for the tears weeping from the page. In the book a lion, drawn with love but not erasing ferocity, cries for having been taken from the jungle and made to drive a clown car. What’s an equally ferocious girl to do but dive into the book and help.
Close Your Eyes by Kate Banks with illustration by Georg Hallensleben. Little Tiger doesn’t want to sleep. Mama Tiger has contrary desires, and we are sympathetic. Yet, the story is patient. Dreams become landscapes of exploration, birds multiply and change color, games of hide and seek expand into infinity. Only one thing remains as certain and perfect in both the sleeping and waking world: the love a parent has for a child.
Support for Check It Out comes from Avery Brothers.