I was going to use the following as a title, but it seemed too long, and you can't put hyperlinks in a title:
Young Thumper's Blossoming Verbal Skills, As Evidenced by the Deepening of His Understanding of Sandra Boynton's But Not the Hippopotamus
Too long, right?
It was nearing naptime this morning, and I suddenly realized it was very quiet. I found the boy in our bedroom. He had pulled from the dresser to the floor the clothes that his mama had laid out to exercise in later. He was laying on top of a bra, cuddling a sock against his face, and sucking his thumb. So I scooped him up, read him the tale of the self-ostracizing hippo, and put him to bed.
I love this book. When buying other books of hers, I told one Borders employee (I had a coupon!) and one Goodwill employee that we were fleshing out our Sandra Boynton collection because the boy's mama loved But Not the Hippopotamus. And while that's true, I'll admit that I kinda dig it too. And while What's Wrong, Little Pookie? is pretty damn cute, The Going to Bed Book, Horns to Tails, The Belly Button Book, and Doggies really cooled my ardor and slowed my acquisition of the entire Boynton catalog. But Not the Hippopotamus really does it for me, though.
I think it's because I am the hippopotamus, and I love that she overcomes her own social anxiety in the end, albeit with a great deal of help from her friends. Thumper loves it, too. As many times as we've read it, he always breaks out in a huge grin at her climactic moment of rebirth into the circle of friends. He spares barely a glance for that poor armadillo, though. Last week, while babysittin' at the cousins house, I had no book to read him before his nap, so I recited But Not the Hippopotamus in its entirety from memory, which was surprisingly easy after reading it two or three times a week for six months or more. As I recited, he stared off into the middle distance, picturing, I believe, the pages that correspond to the words. And he lit up with joy again at the hippo's triumph.
Since Thumper loves a good balloon, whenever we read it, I always point out the balloons that the bear and the hare, who've been to a fair, are carrying. He always repeats it, boo or bo or bo-bo or ball. Today, though, he pointed them out to me, without prompting. And though I've never emphasized the moose and the goose and the juice they're enjoying together, he reiterated the importance of the juice to me today. Since his throat ailment, and the doctor's suggestion that we give him plenty of fluids, he's had constant access to a sippy cup full of watered down Pedialyte that we call juice, so he has a new context for what we read, and demonstrates his understanding of what that moose and goose are doing: "Juuuuuuuuuuice!" He doesn't yet have a contextual understanding of what it means to cavort in a bog, but juice? That he gets. His "juice" and his "cheese" may sound remarkably alike, but still, I am quite sure that he understood that the moose and the goose were not sitting down to a lovely cheese board, with perhaps some artisan breads and fresh fruit.
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