Lately, with playschool and my working a little bit and revising my novel, Harper has had occasion for a lot more “Don’t want to go” moments than the previous two years of her life, when we were at each others’ sides every single instant, yes, even in the bathroom. Maybe this is why she’s so very into Shirley Hughes’ sweet I Don’t Want To Go this week. Over and over she asks me to read it and then she “reads” it to me. We both really like this book, a reassuring tale of the day Lily’s mom is sick and Lily spends the day at the neighbor-lady’s. The neighbor-lady looks eerily like Patti LuPone, makes some killer collages with Lily, and even refrains from screaming “ARE YOU SHY? DON’T BE SHY!” when Lily first arrives and feels the need to hang out under the table for a while. Our neighbor-lady-babysitter, while also very nice, lets Harper eat cookies and watch untold hours of television, which causes Harper to sometimes sigh longingly and say, “I want to go to Gladys’ right now.”
I like the story of Don’t Want To Go very much, and I think the writing is better than in most picture books– or anyway, it stands alone more. I feel like you could read the text on its own and appreciate the story fully. I don’t think I ever noticed that most picture books aren’t quite like this until now. Not that you would want to remove the lovely illustrations though — wonderfully expressive faces, gorgeous colors playing in white space.
What I also love about this book is that the protagonist seems to be just exactly Harper’s age, which is sort of just a weird fortuitous thing. She’s that teetering two, perfectly articulate with her parents, sometimes reduced to complete silence with strangers, sometimes all grown up and sometimes a “big girl baby,” as Harper likes to call herself.
Also, the idea that if I were sick one day someone else would take care of my kids all day instead of me just shuffling around like a zombie is a wonderful, wonderful fantasy. Ah.