In another lifetime, picture books dominated my life. When Brook and Ethan were little, reading aloud to them shaped our days: special mom and daughter time, special mom and daughter and son time after Ethan’s nap/with popcorn, bedtime reading, reading at Oz Books whenever the kids were there with me.
“Born at sea in the teeth of a gale, the sailor was a dog. Scuppers was his name,” one of Ethan’s favorite lines from “Sailor Dog” by Margaret Wise Brown. “Happy winter rise and shine, I love the early morning time. Two bugs in a rug…” one of Brook’s favorite lines from “Happy Winter” by Karen Gundersheimer. (We always made happy winter fudge cake for her birthday).
And mine, “A good man a good life,” from “Island Boy” by Barbara Cooney, or almost any line from William Steig’s gems. Real philosophy and glorious illustrations. Laughter. Oh those books, watching my kids faces as I read them, getting to know the authors, some of whom became dear friends.
Barbara Cooney’s love of Maine history and her feistiness. The glorious palette of blues and purples in her Damariscotta garden. “I need the quiet to restore my creativity,” she would tell me. I didn’t know much about quiet in those days as a young mother and a bookstore owner, but she was always one of my role models.
Today the phone rang at work. One of my favorite children’s authors and an old friend was on the other end of the line, 3,000 miles away. We had the wrong email addresses for each other and hadn’t gotten together since the last time I was in New York. We’re going to have lunch on my next trip in April.
Picture books may have only 32 pages but they really never end.