Monday, August 26, 2013

Good Night, Gorilla

Well, let's just start with a little explanation.  Our third born child is a girl.  We never thought we'd have such a thing and we think she's so pretty and feminine and sweet.  Which makes her nickname, Gorilla, seem a bit curious.  The fact is, my husband never met an ordinary word he wanted to leave alone, and songs had better just run for cover.  Fond as we are of trains around our house, the "Thomas and Friends" theme song is a favorite.  Except my kids know it better as "Thomas and Fiends".  You get the picture.  So when the little female showed up we adapted our second-favorite lullaby, "Sweet Baby Boy" by Randall Goodgame (we adore all of his stuff and you should absolutely check him out here), to work for our sweet baby girl.  Sweet baby girl quickly got changed to sweet baby gorilla.  DD (firstborn who requires everything to be decently and in order) raged, Teep (second born, always up for a good time) thought it was hilarious, and I mourned the large, hairy implications for our not-small, definitely already-due-for-a-haircut daughter. But as nicknames tend to do, Gorilla stuck, and now the word is synonymous with our sweet, smiley baby. 

SO.  My dear friend and fellow bibliophile, Jaclyn, has a knack for sniffing out perfect,
unowned-by-me books for my kids, and she showed up at church yesterday bearing Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann for our own gorilla.  (Her genius selections for the boys will come up in future reviews, you may be sure.)  I usually wait to review books until I've lived with them for awhile, but we're all already in love.

The text is sparse, but the illustrations can really carry it.  And I say that as a person who loves words considerably more than I love pictures.  Rathmann does a brilliant job of depicting a zookeeper's weary frame, hunched over and tip-toeing around the zoo, checking in on each animal and telling him or her goodnight.  He remains unenlightened about the fact that the gorilla stole his keys and is freeing each animal that the zookeeper visits.  A trail of animals follow our worn-out zookeeper into his house and make themselves comfortable in his bedroom.  When, none the wiser, the zookeeper's wife bids him goodnight, she gets 7 responses from the various creatures.  Perhaps my favorite spread depicts a dark room with just her startled, wide-open eyes.  I won't reveal everything, but will say that the last page highlights the gorilla snuggled between husband and wife in bed, and there's something endearingly familiar about that situation.
I really love a picture book that has text that is memorable or brief enough (or both!) that a child can feel that he is "reading" a favorite book independently.  This book showed up in our lives yesterday and my two boys have already got it down.  The fun, detailed illustrations make for some great talking points, as well.  (How did that mouse on pages 1 and 2 manage to retrieve the high-hanging banana he's holding on pages 3 and 4?  Does anyone recognize the stuffed toy in the elephant's cage? etc.)
An older (5 and up?) child might be bored by this one, but if you have little guys, it's definitely worth a read!


No comments:

Post a Comment