Before I was born, my parents wondered what on earth they would do if it turned out that I didn’t like reading. “She won’t fit into our family,” they mused. “What will she do?”
Well, I did like reading. I loved it, and of course I still do. On vacation with my sister and cousins in Minnesota, I holed up in the cabin reading while they . . . well, what were you guys doing outside, anyway? I don’t know, because I was busy with a book. I majored in English in college, where I also got into the habit of tracking down all the beloved children’s books my mother callously threw away when I outgrew them. (And by “threw away”, I mean, “gave to Headstart”. The nerve.)
So, one of the great joys of being a mother is sharing my love of reading with Zoe. “Read the book!” she says, and I never say no. (Pro tip: your child may use this tactic in an attempt to get out of doing something else, such as taking a bath. We usually read the book and take the bath.)
Zoe’s books come from my own surprisingly large pre-child collection, from Marshall’s (a surprisingly great source of board books), from Amazon, from Scholastic book orders, and of course from garage sales. At one garage sale this year I picked up several “Moonbear” books by Frank Asch, the author of some of my own childhood favorites, Happy Birthday, Moon and Milk And Cookies. I have very fond memories of these books, so I was excited to find Bear Shadow, although I didn’t remember reading it as a child.
Well, holy buckets. This book has the admirable (albeit boring) goal of weaving a science lesson about shadows into a story about our friend Bear. The result is a disturbing story about a bear who tries to get rid of his shadow so that he can catch a fish. He runs away and hides, he climbs a cliff, he nails his shadow to the ground.
If you know anything about shadows, you know that none of these things works! So then, in the most chilling moment of the story, Bear thinks, “If I can’t nail him down, maybe I can bury him.” Truly, I shudder a little every time I read this sentence.
And I read it a lot, because of course Zoe thinks Bear Shadow is great. The bushes on the last two pages of Green Eggs and Ham? That’s what chills my toddler to the bone.