Yesterday, I bought a copy OWL MOON by Jane Yolen for Christopher Robin’s wee nephews in Scotland. This must be the fifth or sixth copy I’ve purchased.
When Youngest Son was a very small boy, it was not always easy to keep his attention when we read books before bed. He has always been the restless one, the one playing outside for so long he began to smell of grass even after a shower, the one his uncle dubbed Gerald Mc Boing Boing because he didn’t speak until he was nearly two, but made every sound in the world–particularly the sounds of birds. He loved being read to, of course–I’ve never met a child who didn’t–but he never had the passion for books his brother did.
Until we checked out OWL MOON from the library one blustery autumn day. He was about four or five, and I read it to him that night. We read it every night thereafter, for many, many, many nights. I had to check it out of the library, over and over and over again, until we reached our limit and I had to take it back. He wept in protest. When he opened his very own copy on Christmas morning, he blinked back tears of silent joy. A five-year-old boy’s boy. Over a book. I do not even know how many times we read that book. I have just about memorized (along with The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein, which was Eldest’s Favorite).
The years went by. The boys grew up. Picture books and young readers were packed away to make room for Ninja Turtles and Legos and video games and posters of scantily clad girls. One evening I went to the library with my strapping teenager and his girlfriend, and there happened to be a copy of OWL MOON on the picture book display. Boy yelped and sat down to read it aloud to his girl. By the end, tears were streaming down his face. "Man, I loved this book."
Last year, Boy gave his brother a copy of The Giving Tree for Christmas. I nudged Eldest toward giving Youngest OWL MOON, since the old copy was lost somewhere along the way.
What I realized, buying yet another copy of the book for some more children, is that I love OWL MOON. It’s by far my favorite picture book (and I love lots of them–I love read aloud, honestly. Love, love, love it. Maybe I should volunteer at the library). And I’m sharing that love with you.
Tonight, I will read aloud OWL MOON to Christopher Robin before mailing it away to Scotland. He’s not a boy anymore, but his boyish heart will like hearing it. And I hope some of you will go out and find it for a young one on your list. Read it aloud to them, too, maybe with them slumped sweetly against you, smelling of soap and grass….
Do you have a favorite picture book or children’s title you like to give (or just love madly?)