I have hazy memories that may or may not be fabricated (no, it’s nothing salacious or exciting, sorry) of — what else? — teaching myself to read while lying on the pleasantly cool floor of our basement, obsessively going over and over the Mercer Mayer book Just For You. It recently occurred to me that Harper, who is obsessed with letters and rhyming (she drew an H on the table the other day with a hunk of cheese, an action I had to work very hard to pretend to disapprove of), is doing the same thing when she asks me to read the same books again and again and again and again. What’s crazy is that it’s actually these very same Little Critter books that have captured her attention. I swear, she came to these on her own — her grandmother gave them to her, and Harper’s the one who brings me stacks of them to read.
Right now her “favorite and her best” is Just Me and My Mom. It’s a little heartbreaking, actually — okay, I get the message, you want some undivided attention that you never ever wait sorry I have to go change the baby’s diaper what was I saying?
Anyway, I have to admit this is not my most favoritest of the Little Critter oeuvre. The volumes created in the 90s have a certain extra-sassy “What would Macaulay Caulkin do?” vibe to them that seems to me a little meaner than the earlier stories, you know, from the good old days, when I was a kid and the Little Critter was trying to do everything right but failing because he was hapless and small, not because he had ADD. (Yes, I am actually trying to channel my inner Andy Rooney in order to honor his memory, so it’s okay that I sound like an old fart.)
But for the most part, these books are just all pretty great. Of course I’m partial to Just for You, but I also really like The New Baby, which is one of those rare new baby books that doesn’t make it all sound like a horrible drag. Whichever Little Critter book you choose, though, there is fun to be had — finding the frog or spider or cricket on each page has been a favorite past time of Harper’s for ages. You know, since she was a little kid.