It took me 45 minutes to read The Giving Tree to my son the other day. I had to stop after every page to blow my nose because of “allergies,” and mask my cracking voice with “violent coughing fits.” I could blame it on hormones, but that's only half the story. Curse you, Shel Silverstein. Curse you and your scary insight into human nature, the pursuit of happiness, and the sacrifices tied to unconditional love.
I’m a big fan of the classic children’s books (Winnie the Pooh, The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog), but these days, my favorite is Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. My mom gets the credit for finding this gem amidst all the crap. Think of Cookies as an illustrated dictionary of common adjectives and concepts that are often difficult to explain to kids. Not that we ever have that problem. When words like Trustworthy and Respect are explained in the context of a delicious treat, they're much easier to understand (for me, at least).
Jane Dyer’s illustrations are charmingly retro, but without the cookie-cutter faces of yesteryear. The text, however, is timeless. It's earnest, to be sure, but I’m going out on a limb to say that morals can’t hurt. The clearer, the better. And, as we all know, everything is easier to swallow in cookie form. If I bully you into buying one book for a kid this year, let this be it. I'll even lay off your lunch money for a week.
PROUD means, my chin is high, and I sure do like the way my cookies turned out.
ENVY means, I can’t stop looking at your cookie out of the corner of my eye – it looks so much better than my cookie. Boy, I wish it were mine and not yours.
LOYAL means that even though the new person has a much bigger cookie, I’m sticking by you and your little cookies because you’re my very best friend.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go weep.