the wonderful Mercer Mayer Little Critter books

What will you read to your children?  That question has been asked for centuries now.  Conveniently, there are classics now, well established books that are perfect for children (a truly top 10 essential books will be a future post).  So now the question becomes, how will you read to your children?  Will you pull out a Kindle?  Or an IPad, because it’s bigger?  Or will you continue to pull out the wonderful books that are still lying around.

Of all the books that I read to Thomas, the one I am most established at is I Was So Mad.  It’s one of the Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer.  I have a particular way of reading it to him and I have read it a lot of other kids along the way now.  I think I might have begun reading it when I still worked in child care back in the mid-90’s.  Either way, it is one of our favorites.  Thomas loves to hear it.  I love to read it.

But of course, it doesn’t end there.  Mercer Mayer is 66 now and has been well known in the children’s book world for over 40 years.  He first became known for A Boy, a Dog and a Frog, There’s A Nightmare in My Closet and Frog, Where Are You in the late 60’s.  The Frog books were notable for being completely without dialogue while Nightmare followed heavily in the footsteps of Maurice Sendak.  In 1975 he began the Little Critter series, about a small little critter (of indeterminate species) who, in small books, learns a number of lessons.  But they’re nice cute stories and they usually have special themes (Just Me and My Dad, Just Me and My Mom, I Was So Mad, Just Go to Bed, etc.).  By now, we have about 20 of them (there are now over 200 and still counting).  They are for the most part published by Little Golden Books, which will get its own post in this series.  Like many kids series, you can pick up certain books when your child gets to certain milestones in life (we got Just Going to the Dentist just before Thomas’ first visit).

I love I Was So Mad.  To me, it functions on the same kind of level as Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  It lets you see that characters in books can get frustrated as well, that things don’t always go their way.  In the same way that I Was So Mad is the book that I read, I very much associate Alexander with my mother.  It seems like she would read it to me whenever I had a bad day and as a result, I never felt the need to move to Australia (as an adult I learned that everything in Australia can kill you  –  sharks, spiders, jellyfish, crocodiles, snakes — so the fact that I had no desire to move there was doubled).  I’m glad I have a book I can pass down that way.