When I was a child, my mother was in a professional choir that occasionally went on tour, necessitating that my father play the role of “Mr. Mom” while she was away. Dad’s way of doing things differed greatly from Mom’s, and when faced with a particular challenge or a new obstacle, he came up with some brilliantly creative solutions.
When faced with the challenge of doing hair, he laid my sister on the huge butcher’s block that stood like an island in the middle of our kitchen, positioning her so that her head hung slightly over the edge. Though it could have been some macabre scene out of a horror movie, the reality was much funnier. He had decided this was the only way to get her hair to hang straight, and, with rat-tail comb and spray bottle in hand, he was able to make a perfectly straight part running down the center of her head. Because I had requested curls for church, I was also laid upon the butcher’s block, with the strict injunction to “lie still.” From the depths of our linen closet, he had found a decade-old curling iron with the diameter of a no. 2 pencil. Over the course of two hours, he proceeded to curl every hair on my head until it rivaled Shirley Temple’s curly mop.
Another time, when no utensils could be found, and with only yogurt in the refrigerator, Dad pulled out his wallet and methodically began removing plastic cards. He carefully washed them with soapy water, and we ate our yogurt with his American Express and Visa, and we marveled at the previously unknown multi-functionality of credit cards.
I will never forget the time when I lost a tooth while Dad was in charge. Like many, we had a family tradition of placing our teeth under our pillows before bedtime for the Tooth Fairy to find. When we woke up, however, we would find a tightly rolled scroll tucked near our heads. In fancy calligraphy-type writing, the Tooth Fairy would congratulate us on our fine tooth, and include several quarters or dimes glued next to her elegant signature. On this occasion, I woke up to find a thick envelope sticking out from my pillow. I opened it to find a nice letter congratulating me on my clean tooth, but in a blocky script that I didn’t recognize. The requisite quarters were glued to the bottom of the page, but the letter was signed–“With love, the Easter Bunny.” When I showed my dad the letter and questioned him about this breach in holiday mascot protocol, he had a plausible story about the Tooth Fairy being on vacation, and that her buddy, the Easter Bunny, had kindly stepped in to help out. To this day, I am unsure whether this was an elaborate cover to explain the difference in handwriting, or the momentary lapse of a sleep-deprived father writing a letter in the middle of the night to his seven-year old daughter.
While the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny are inextricably linked in my mind, the advent of spring usually conjures images of sunny daffodils, tightly-wound green buds, and Easter with its attendant symbols of new birth: bright eggs, yellow chicks, and fluffy bunnies.
To celebrate spring and the Easter holiday, April’s Book of the Month stars a diligent Rabbit in Carrot Soup, written and illustrated by John Segal. Rabbit celebrates the new season by fastidiously planning his carrot garden so that he may enjoy his favorite food: carrot soup. After plowing and planting, watering and waiting, Rabbit heads out to harvest his crop, only to find rocks, dirt, and mud…but NO CARROTS! Rabbit rushes from neighbor to neighbor, asking if each has seen his carrots, but everyone seems to have an alibi (“I prefer fish to carrots,” says Duck, while Mole says that he doesn’t see very well). When all have pleaded ignorance, and Rabbit’s friend, Pig, can’t be found, Rabbit comes to the hard conclusion that there will be no carrot soup for him and dejectedly walks home.
Your little reader will be giggling at the successive images of Rabbit’s friends toting wheelbarrows of carrots in the background, and bursting with the knowledge of the unexpected surprise that awaits Rabbit at home. When you BookChat, point out the various types of carrots Rabbit orders, such as the “Sugarsnax,” the “Thumbelina,” and the “Short n’ Sweet.” Or use the story to talk about what a seed needs to grow, and follow up with Eric Carle’s The Tiny Seed, also in the Readeo library. Share stories about favorite or unexpected surprises you’ve had in your life, and ask your reader if he or she enjoys surprises, and why. A recipe for Rabbit’s Carrot Soup is included in the back of the book–I challenge our readers to try the soup, and let us know how it is on our Facebook page!
A big thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing this delightful spring book to read for free during April.
Happy Spring and Happy Reading,