As I was helping our daughter gather up the things in her room that would make the journey with her to college earlier this week, I picked up a copy of Homer’s Iliad (circa 760-710 BC) from her bed. This ancient classic marks her first official college text bought for school.
And here’s the funny thing about it – it reminded me of the first book that she really fell in love with around age 2 or 3. It was a tiny little board book entitled Christmas Cookies by Wendy Lewison and illustrated by Mary Morgan (1993, Grosset and Dunlap). It would also be the first book that I remember her ever pretending to read because she had memorized what I read to her from it so many times. She loved this book, but mostly it was a sentence right in the middle that was her favorite. I would read along about these little mice and how their mother suggested that they make Christmas cookies because it was too cold and snowy for them to play outside.
We would read together through the short narrative as it rolled along in that great board book style of simplicity and sing-song rhyme. And then we would arrive at this page with the phrase, “In go the eggs now, crack, crack, plop. Oops! I dropped one. Get the mop!”
In the moment those words would leave my lips, our daughter would begin to laugh that deep, belly-laugh that only a little child can produce. It would light up the room and she would laugh so much about that phrase that we could rarely move on for several minutes. I am still not sure what it was that was so funny, but the mixture of just the right words and these little mice children having to clean up a mess were all she needed to laugh every single time we read it. To this day, all I have to do is quote that particular sentence and we fall into a fit of laughter. No idea why…
I am not sure she will laugh with that kind of abandon as she labors through Homer’s Iliad, but Lewison’s Christmas Cookies remains the first book that ever really got her attention and stirred something deep inside of her. Here’s hoping the same happens for all the books to come.