Generation Gap?

Generation Gap?

We went to a party today for Dom’s youngest half-sister who just graduated from high school. At one point I found myself engaged in conversation with a little old lady who was very much admiring Sophia. Everyone seems to comment on how alert and attentive my baby girls are, must be the big brown eyes.

Anyway, this lady thought Sophia was eyeing her glass of tea and said something to that effect. Then she went on to babble about how Sophia must be hungry and wanting a “baba”. She thought Sophie perked up at the word and exclaimed about how she recognized it: What a clever baby!

I just smiled and nodded. Didn’t have the heart to break it to her that Sophia has absolutely no clue when it comes to bottles as she’s exclusively breastfed. And I was a bit afraid it might be too much of a shock to the system. I do notice, though, that the assumption of people of a certain age is that babies are bottle fed. I suppose i know on some level that the exclusive breastfeeding I do isn’t the norm, I’m in a distinct minority. And yet it still is a bit of a shock when I encounter these kinds of attitudes.

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  • You know, it would be neat to do a children’s lit course at a Catholic university in order to include the books you’ve been reviewing here!  I’m writing this having just started prepping my children’s lit course for the second half of the summer.  The first book is a really neat idea, I think.  I will be arranging my course be children’s lit “genre,” and one of my genres is the Alphabet book (loosely—and I didn’t make that up!  It really is considered a “genre,” though there is overlap with the picture book genre.

    Some of the rhymes were a little forced and a bit treacly: “St Helen was a queen of old / who found the cross so true. / It leads to everlasting life, / even for me and you!” That “so true” feels awkward to me and the “even” is a bit odd.

    Yes, this is clunky, because the ballad stanza (especially one that is so simple with not much variation) is unable to support the substitution of a trochee in the first foot of the line.  This is a general problem with children’s picture books that include verse.  The verse is usually mediocre at best.  I wonder if it’s because the authors/editors have lower standards for children’s literature, or if the authors themselves are not very skilled.  I’ve wondered this often about children’s verse.  But then, I’m all about formal poetry!!  smile

  • I hope you write more about your class as it takes shape. I’m fascinated by the subject.

    The children’s lit course I took in college was something of a disappointment. It was offered by the education department and focused not on books as a form of literature, but on pedagogy. Which makes sense to a point, children’s books do and should have a pedagogical aspect that adult literature doesn’t have. But the best picture books are also enjoyable for adults as well and I really wanted to talk about how a good book pairs art and text and all sorts of other questions that were evidently not within the scope of the class. I think I was the only non-education major in the class and the professor and I just did not see eye to eye.

    I was actually going to start my post with a reflection of the alphabet book genre, but it was a little unfocused, so I scrapped it. I used to have some gorgeous alphabet books that got left at my parents’ house when I moved and now are seemingly lost. I’m not sure what it is, but I love alphabet books, especially the arty ones. And I think it is a genre that lends itself to becoming an art book more than a kiddie book.

    You’re right so often verse in children’s books is clunky. I think there is a lower standard, regrettably. And perhaps the authors are not true poets. Often I think people who can’t really write do children’s books because they think they’re easier. In fact, I think they are much harder because the audience is so much more particular. But it is a shame because childhood is the perfect time to cultivate a real love of poetry.

    I do have a through the year, month by month book with verse by John Updike that is pretty good. I should post a review on that. It’s too bad more poets don’t try their hand at children’s books.

  • Melanie,
    I’ve recently rediscovered your blog.  I’m really enjoying the content.  Have you ever seen Neumann Press’ “An Alphabet of Saints”?
    It is a reproduction of the 1905 original with beautiful black and white engravings framed in red.  Each page features the letter, a saint, and a verse about the saint’s life.  It is probably a little too old for Bella, but she might enjoy it in a year or two.  It also depends on the child’s temperament.  My 5 year old finds the illustrations a bit stark while my 10 year old has always been drawn to classical renditions of this sort.