I don’t so much buy presents… except for the kids in my life. Once they’re seven or eight, I have no problems: so many books I know and love already, and of course I welcome any excuse to find more great ones. Best of all is when the child’s tastes run to slightly different genres than I usually read, so I’m forced to read up… I first read China Mieville’s UN LUN DUN and Nancy Farmer’s THE EAR, THE EYE AND THE ARM when testing them for my cousin Alex. (Both passed.)
But when it comes to littler kids, I’m at a loss. I don’t really know what’s age-appropriate, and I don’t know what’s so famous that they’re likely to have it already. Luckily, I now have a blog. And with a blog comes links. My savior this year? 100 Scope Notes’s Best New Books category. Holiday success.
The most gratifying gift-giving moment was undoubtedly due to my cousin Luke’s — Luke of Mean Elizabeth fame — preschool apparently having taught him appropriate responses to receiving a present. As soon as he ripped the paper off of JEREMY DRAWS A MONSTER, he yelled, “It’s JUST what I ALWAYS WANTED!”
As opposed to my niece Sylvia of the same age, whose perpetual response ran more to looking hopeful and asking, “Are there any more presents for me?”
Sylvia also took the time to read several of her favorite books to me. Since she doesn’t read in the traditional sense, this involves her telling me a story based on the pictures and what she remembers from past readings. In her telling, a common feature of stories seems to be their emphasis on YELLED NARRATION.
My other interaction with small children this holiday season was when Emily and I went sledding in Prospect Park. (I’ve recently learned to sled and have now become a sledding fiend. I wanted to take Sylvia out yesterday but the snow had dissipated.) We took it upon ourselves to teach them some valuable lessons about the importance of moving off the hill once your turn is done, lest two shrieking women lying on top of one another in an inflatable bialy run you down. I’m not sure whether all their parents were as grateful as they should have been for our didactic efforts.