Most of Ezra’s favorite books are plot-free. Lots of rhymes, pictures of animals, and endless repetition of phrases. But scattered in the rotation are a few books that he’s picked out from the shelf of picture books, and he loves flipping through them and hearing parts of the story. It just so happens that he has chosen three really confusing books.
1. Corduroy, 1968
The main part of this classic kid’s book makes sense: a teddy bear named Corduroy wants to be taken home by a little girl. Her mom says no because he is missing a button and looks raggedy. The girl counts up the money in her piggy bank and comes back for him the next day. She takes him home, sews on a new button, and they live happily ever after.
But, for 14 pages in the middle of the 32 page book, Corduroy goes on a Mannequin-esque late-night quest for a replacement button that leads to him pulling a button off a mattress which causes a loud noise and raises the suspicions of a security guard.
But then nothing happens. The guard finds the once again inanimate bear lying around in the mattress department, and just carries him back to the toy department. Total anti-climax, and a waste of half the book.
2. A Little Old Man, 1959
In this tattered old book, which Ezra inherited from my childhood, a little old man lives by himself on a tiny island. He is lonely, and wishes he had a cat. Here’s how his cat arrives: a huge storm literally carries his house out to sea. The same storm beaches a houseboat on his island, fully furnished, with a stocked pantry, a woodburning stove, and a cat with several kittens. He worries that the houseboat’s owners will come looking for it, but they never do, and he lives happily ever after with his new cats.
But was there really no other way to get this poor, lonely man a cat? No solution short of swapping his whole house with a whole other house? A house he must constantly worry will be repossessed by its rightful owners?
On the other hand, I really want his adorable blue shawl-collared cardigan.
3. Love You Forever, 1986
Oh, obsessive family love. A mom rocks her baby to sleep with a little ditty, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” She takes the “my baby you’ll be” part super-literally. As the baby ages into a toddler, then a kid, then a teen, she continues to sneak into his room at night, pick him up, and sing him the song while he sleeps.
Then, when he is an adult, she sometimes drives across town with a ladder tied to the roof of her car in order to break into his home, pick him up, and sing him the song.
Later, when she is very old, her son has to pick her up and sing her the song. As she lays upon her deathbed, he gets all cat’s-in-the-cradle and weepy and goes to his own daughter’s bedroom to sing her the song.
Which is fine. Except that while there was something just vaguely creepy about a mom breaking into her grown son’s house in order to sit on his bed and sing him a song, the prospect of a dad doing that to his grown daughter is somehow more alarming.