My twelve-year-old daughter, Anna, and I are not in the heart of the picture-book demographic. But we both love picture books, read them often, and wanted to weigh in about the role picture books play in our lives.
She decided to start by herself. Here’s what she wrote:
If a twelve-year-old came up to you and told you that she read picture books, would you be a little freaked out? My response would be, “Me too!” I still have stacks of picture books in my room from when I was a little kid, and from very recently. And if I notice one missing from my room, I can safely assume that my mom took it. We both read picture books like nobody’s business!
Sometimes when I’m in the mood for something short and simple, I just pick one of my favorites and start reading. And even though I’ve read those books probably hundreds of times, they never get old. My absolute favorite books are the ones about Koko (KOKO’S STORY and KOKO’S KITTEN), the gorilla that learned to speak sign language.
The books show how gorillas are so much like humans, in that they can learn a language, and they have feelings too. In KOKO’S KITTEN, Koko treats her little kitten, All Ball, so sweetly, like he was her own child.
I am an animal lover myself, and it seemed as though the books were written for me!
I had planned to write about some of my own favorites, a list that begins with the magical ROXABOXEN. And to talk about how satisfying it is to read and enjoy a whole story in a single sitting. The magic that happens between art and the text in a book like ALL THE WORLD. With maybe a short little bit about the irreplaceable multi-sensory experience of reading a book to a snuggled child, and how subsequent rereadings, for adult and child, evoke those memories of being loved and being safe.
But reading what Anna chose to write about stopped me in my tracks.
My mother wrote for children, as I do, and was a lover of picture books. I do not think that Anna knows that my mother’s favorite picture book was KOKO’S STORY. My mother, who died ten years before Anna was born, was also smitten with Koko’s love of and delight in All Ball. I remember her heart just about broke open when she learned All Ball had died.
I didn’t envision this as a three-generation story, but I am delighted that my mother has insinuated herself into the post we two generations planned to write together. The copy of KOKO’S STORY that has been in Anna’s room since it moved there from her big brother’s room was my mother’s own copy.
Picture books spark inter-generational magic in ways no one could predict.
L.B. and I would like to thank Audrey and Anna for this wonderful post and to add that you can read all about Koko at The Gorilla Foundation Website!
Anna Vernick, reader of tons of summer-camp books, is finally heading to sleep-away camp herself. She will enter seventh grade in the fall.
Audrey Vernick, author of TEACH YOUR BUFFALO TO PLAY DRUMS, is a two-time winner of the NJ Arts Council’s fiction fellowship. For more about Audrey, visit her Website and blog.