16 November 2016
The Night The Old Nostalgia Burned Down, Again
Last month I wrote about books I dug up recently because I remembered them from my childhood. I ended by saying "Maybe next time I will talk about childhood favorites I bought my daughter when she was a kid." But instead I talked about my non-conversation with a taxi driver. So here we go.
If you are familiar with Crockett Johnson it is probably because of his wonderful books about Harold and the Purple Crayon which have inspired children's imagination (and the occasional wall-scribble spanking) for many years. Bill Watterson, the creator of the marvelous Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, also said that Harold was all he knew of Johnson.
What I like best about Johnson's stories is that the imaginary friend, so to speak, is the realist in the pair. When Ellen asks the Lion about his life before they met she wants to hear about steaming hot jungles, but all he remembers is a department store.
By the way, Johnson also created one of the most brilliant comic strips of all time. Barnaby ran during the early forties and featured another preschooler who, in the first episode, wishes for a fairy godmother. Due to wartime shortages he was instead assigned Jackeen J. O'Malley, a three-foot-tall fairy godfather with a grubby raincoat, magenta wings, and a malfunctioning magic cigar. Mr. O'Malley introduces Barnaby to such characters as Atlas, a three-foot-tall giant (he's a mental giant), some Republican ghosts, and a talking dog who will not shut up.
The other book I hunted down for my kiddo has nothing to do with Crockett Johnson but does mention Atlas. The original one.
d'Auliare's Book of Greek Myths, written and illustrated by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire, started me on my lifelong love of mythology. Not only are the pictures unforgettable but the writing is very well done.
But Queen Pasiphaë was so taken by the beauty of the white bull that she persuaded the king to let it live. She admired the bull so much that she ordered Daedalus to construct a hollow wooden cow, so she could hide inside it and enjoy the beauty of the bull at close range....
To punish the king and queen, Poseidon caused Pasiphaë to give birth to a monster, the Minotaur. He was half man,, half bull...
Every adult, I imagine, understands exactly what the dAulaires said that the Greeks were saying about Pasiphaë, but it goes right over a kid's head. (Did mine, anyway.)
The book is still in print. Unfortunately the binding is not as long-lasting as the text and pictures. I have had to replace it about once a decade.
Ah well, no mysteries this week, unless you count the mystery religions. Or Mr. O'Malley's encounter with the fur coat thieves...