A Synopsis of 5 Children’s Books from a Slightly Different Perspective

Parents cannot receive enough helping guiding their children’s growth through reading. This article seeks to look at the meanings of five different children’s books through a slightly different – perhaps the adjective would be “twisted” – perspective.

We will now explore the Dr. Seuss work Green Eggs & Ham, the bedtime classics Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Vorst, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss

An antagonistic marketing representative named Sam has the unenviable task of promoting a less than esthetically pleasing food product; Pushes envelope and bounds of legality by badgering his target into eventually trying his edible wares.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

An apparently recalcitrant child attempts to avoid going to sleep by diverting attention to every minute detail in his unkempt and unsanitary room – mice inhabit the place and leftover food remains in it’s tableware on the nightstand. Of note, a live fireplace in the child’s bedroom remains ablaze as the child is going to sleep, indicating negligent parental role models.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Vorst
A journey into a narcissistic, underachieving child’s complaints around how badly a day has gone for him; failing to understand the complaints of those around him – for instance the teacher can’t understand how an invisible castle would meet the stated requirements of the school project causes the child stress. His life is that much more difficult than everyone elses’.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

This story perfectly illustrates why children are not to be allowed unfettered access to crayons and other such playthings, particularly near bedtime. This is another story of lax parenting as Harold’s parents are no where to be seen as he goes on a journey while he should be sleeping. In fact, he is so tired, he hallucinates his journey to vast places created simply by his crayon; ultimately growing so tired he draws his own room and goes to sleep.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A story of a gluttonous caterpillar apparently suffering from some form of the eating disorder pica. By the end of the week the caterpillar becomes so completely obese, there is little for him to do to cure his stomach ache but to literally build a cocoon. Carries the warning of overeating and obesity to children.


Afterward: I found some old blog entries I’d written some years ago, that I’m planning to cull through.  This one was written February 29, 2008, so it’s really only just about 3 years old.



Sign Posts and Tail Lights

And just like that, she was gone…

When your first born comes into the world, everything, EVERY-THING, changes.  Your relationship with the world changes.  You’re there when you bring her home.  You’re there for the first diaper change.  You are literally her world.

You spend years emotionally preparing for that moment you’ll watch her walk across the stage at her high school graduation.

And then one day, seemly out of no where, she does just that: walks across the stage and collects her high school diploma.  Just like that, she’s an adult.  All those years culminated in 15-seconds.  And at that point, our society pretty much says, “you’re a high school graduate, you’re an adult.”  And thus, she was.

There are other moments along the way that portend those milestones.  The first time I watched her drive away in her own car really hit home to me the notion that she was growing up.  As I watched those tail-lights get smaller and eventually disappear, I instinctively knew there was a metaphor there for me.

The college visits, applications, acceptances and eventually the moves-in are right up there with those tail lights.  All small signs that the world is getting larger, inch by inch, like unnoticed highway mile marker numbers increasing almost imperceptibly until you realize you’re no longer at “mile 1.”

Today holds another one of those sign posts.

A little less than a month ago, she finished her last undergraduate class.  She walked out of the final exam and was formally done with college.  Just like that.  Another chapter of her life was over, although “over” the way a football team kills the clock in victory formation; her school has only one commencement, so she has to wait to “officially” be a graduate. Today she collects her graduation present from us: 7-weeks in Europe.  France and England, and wherever else her wanderlust carriers her.

It’s something we’ve thought about for months and intellectually knew it was going to happen from the time the idea sprang to life to became “real,” but it was so far off.  I mean, it was a graduation present, and good lord that’s not going to happen for months now.  Until it was here.

Today, I will bring her to Logan Airport’s Terminal E, get her where she needs to go, so she can get her boarding passes, luggage checked, and be screened through security.  Just like that, somewhere overhead lights on an aircraft wing will rise up from the ground and become increasingly smaller until they eventually disappear.

She’s undeniably an adult.  Her world is becoming a larger place.  Five months from now, she will again have her name announced and she will again walk across a stage to collect a diploma.  Officially closing another chapter of her life, opening to a new, as yet undecided, one.

It’s been a long time since I was her world and I knew it had been from the first time I saw those tail lights disappear: that reminder it’s a parents job to teach their kids to be independent adults, capable of having their own lives and building their own world.  She’s done just fine with that, thank you very much.  Today, I’m reminded of that feeling all over again and I’m hopeful that no matter how big her world gets, there will still be part of it there for us.