Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"It's good to be home! Let's have a party!"

I love classic Little Golden Books. We tend to think about old-timey morals as being all hardass, but when you really examine these books, the message is more like "Do what you feel like, kids! There'll be parties and cake!" As a parent, I disapprove. As a human being, I'm totally down with this.

First, let's talk about The Poky Little Puppy. He comes home late a few times and manages to snarf dessert two out of three of those times -- and not just his own portion, mind you, but also his four brothers' and sisters' portions, because they get hosed out of their shares -- and then, finally, on the third try he gets busted and has to go without.

What's the lesson here? Do what you feel like, and you'll get ten desserts before you get caught. Me, I like those odds. You keep on keepin' on, Poky.


The only problem with The Poky Little Puppy is that you and your kids can get so jazzed by his quietly subversive little vibe that you make the mistake of picking up The Poky Little Puppy's First Christmas, which is so brutally dull I'm not even going to waste my time or yours by describing it here. Every so often, my boys forget how boring this book was when we last read it and will ask me to read it again. I'll comply, because I'm the best mom ever, and at the end, I get these two pairs of blue eyes staring at me all confused-like, because what the hell just happened?

Anyway. My faaaaaavourite Little Golden Book is the recently re-released The Merry Shipwreck. There's practically zero discernible plotline, but that doesn't stop this from being possibly the finest children's book ever written.

First, take a gander at old Captain Barnacle there on the cover, rocking his sailor hat, sweet pink and purple striped tank top, and majestic white moustache. If that doesn't let you know you're in for a treat, you're not paying close enough attention.


So, what actually happens in this book? Here's a recap:

Captain Barnacle lives on an old barge on the East River with a posse of farm animals. (Why? This is never explained. Just accept it and keep moving. Things happen pretty fast.) One day, Captain Barnacle goes to shore to get groceries. The baby mice accidentally (or IS IT AN ACCIDENT?) chew through the rope that holds the boat to shore. The animals immediately start partying it up, just because of how awesome it is to be drifting down the river toward the open sea.

It's all good times till a storm comes up and bashes the barge up on a little island. Unhappiness ensues, but only briefly because a fireboat discovers them and takes them aboard. Captain Barnacle is also on the fireboat. This, too, is never explained, but who cares because there's another party! Stop asking for explanations! Do you hate parties?! The animals are spraying the firehoses and rampaging all over the boat while wearing firefighters' clothes. Is this a hoedown or what? And then they go up the Statue of Liberty, because why the hell not?

But then, once again, momentary sadness when Captain Barnacle realizes how effed up his barge got when it was shipwrecked. Not to worry, though, because the fire crew and the animals help spiff it up again, and then the Captain and the animals head back down the East River. As they near home, everyone in the neighbourhood is on the dock to greet them -- kids, the mailman, all the neighbourhood cats, Tony the fruit seller, you name it. And it's time for another party, because it's been six pages since the last one, and that's way too damn long. And then everybody passes out. The end.

You probably already have a copy of The Poky Little Puppy. You may not have a copy of The Merry Shipwreck. Get one, seriously. Even if you don't have kids.

In the (should be) famous words of Captain Barnacle, my new personal motto:

"It's good to be home! Let's have a party!"

11 comments:

Tamara said...

I also recommend the Golden Books read-a-long records. The Poky Little Puppy has the best song with it. I listened to them as a kid and bought them for Moe to listen to.

Trasherati said...

Ima find that Poky Little Puppy book/record combo RIGHT NOW. Favorite Golden Book ever. Might have to order the Shipwreck book, too. Y'all are mavens, thanks.

Carrie said...

Thanks for pointing me toward the Shipwreck book. I love the sentiment about being home and throwing a party!

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Talewinds said...

Hello,

My name is Norman Perrin, storyteller presently on the road carrying a flat rock from Scotland to England, Switzerland, Israel, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
See
http://talesfromthefourwinds.com/blog/ for explanation.
Found your blog while rambling looking up anything about bookseller Hannelore Headley, who I just found out passed away last June. Miss her, having known her for 35 years and heard a lot of her jokes, mostly rude and very funny. Lived in back of her store too as starving student.
Also it's Yom Kippur in Israel and I am stuck in Haifa Israel and boy is it quiet.
Appreciate the difficulty of letting books go, I've got about 6,000 at present, and climbing. My excuse is that it's a working research library.

Anyway, that's it, have to write my own blog.

Norman Perrin

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