Wednesday, 2 May 2012

My Daughter, Patron of Dead Canadian Poets




Being a huge fan of books, both as a source of income and entertainment, I was thrilled
when Cookie started choosing the books she wanted me to read…over and over and
over. Her favourites change like the weather, but I’m thrilled with her current picks:
two books by icons of Canadian poetry. The first one she picks at bedtime is Once: A
Lullaby by bpNichol (illustrated by Ed Roach). A friend recommended it, so I bought a
used copy online for Christmas. When I read it for the first time, I nearly called her to
ask what the hell she was thinking.

Once I was a little horse,
baby horse, little horse.
Once I was a little horse.
NEIGH, I fell asleep.

Once I was a little cow,
baby cow, little cow.
Once I was a little cow.
MOO, I fell asleep.

Once I was a little goat…

And so it goes for twenty godawful pages. But as I quickly learned, repetition is key. And
animal noises don’t hurt either. Cookie loves this book. And who am I to dissuade her
from appreciating such a groundbreaking artist, one who apparently knew exactly what
he was doing?

The next one I found at a book sale. My mom flipped through it and said, “What a
weird book,” but I recognized the title, so I nabbed it. It’s Night Cars by Teddy Jam, aka
Matt Cohen (illustrated by Eric Beddows). The pictures are so evocative of Toronto in
the ’80s, the Toronto I fell in love with when I was a kid visiting my grandma, and the
text is hypnotic:

Slow snow falling deep
Cars dogs babies sleep

Night cars shining in the night
Stop and bow at each red light

I love reading this book. I love that Cookie loves it. And I recently came across a new
board book edition in our bookstore, just in case she destroys the one we have.

Why are so many children’s books written so bloody poorly? We have so many books
that I have to correct as I read: “The cow says, ‘Moo!’ His friends say ‘Moo!’” You’re
kidding me, right? “Vezina begins with the letter V, a trophy for an outstanding goalie.”
Christ. At least poets know how to write.

Another current favourite is one we discovered at storytime, ABC, Baby Me by Susan

B. Katz (illustrated by Alicia PadrĂ³n). The pictures are simple but gorgeous, soothing
illustrations of babies and caregivers.

Adore me
Bathe me
Cuddle me, too

Velvet bubbles
Wrap me snug
X-O-X me so

I could read that one all night. But don’t tell Cookie, ’cause I’ve got a stack of trashy magazines to get through.

-East End Mama

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