Bushwick Asks: What’s Your Favorite Children’s

After reading The Little Prince once again, this time in preparation for tonight’s show I started thinking about how the book’s meaning and importance has changed for me over time. I liked it when I was young and yet it wasn’t until I was an adult that it took a permanent place in my heart. It’s one of my favorite books of all time and is comforting in times of loss, grief or heartache. When I was a kid, I loved the Berenstain Bears, books I now find heavy-handed and preachy. This got me thinking about how children’s books can change meaning to the reader as they age. I asked the Bushwick performers “what was your favorite children’s book when you were a kid and what is your favorite children’s book now? How has your thoughts on your favorite kid’s book changed as you grew up?” Take a look at what they said.

Julia Massey:

JM: My favorite children’s book, according to my mother who read it to me thousands of times, was Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. I don’t really remember much about the book except that Pooh probably was eating a ton of honey, and someone said “Oh bother!”
Now that I’m older, I really want to revisit the story because I’m sure the themes shaped my sense of the world as a kid, but it’s not one of the classics that are easy to find at the library.
As I’m now reading books to my two year old, I find that it’s hard to push my own parental agenda when it comes to kids’ preferences, and I’m learning to enjoy the ride of what his favorite books are to read. Right now, it’s Mickey Mouse’s Perfect Picnic. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but I’m betting Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too wasn’t my mom’s either!
KG: Thanks Julia! That reminds me that I used to love the Little Golden Book The Forest Hotel when I was wee, but my mom hated it. Of course I didn’t know that until I was an adult. She can still recite a lot of it from memory. Sorry Mom!
JM: Isn’t that sooooo funny?? And look at us now! Avid, enthusiastic readers. Thanks Moms…. 🙂
KG:  Check out Julia’s video with her band Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount This is How We’re Gonna Say Goodbye.

Amanda Winterhalter:

AW: My favorite children’s book as a kid was The Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale, by Jack Kent. It’s seriously the best book because the pictures are awesome, the characters have cool names like “The Cat,” and “Skohottentot,” and “Skolinkenlot,” and the rhythm of the language helps build the story to a dark catastrophic climax… but all ends well.
My favorite children’s book now is still The Fat Cat. I mean, there are A LOT of exceptional kids books out there, so my opinion is largely tied to my own sense of nostalgia. However, I think I still maintain a fairly similar perspective on what makes a kid’s book a good kid’s book. When I was a kid, I liked words and sounds and rhythm, and I liked a good story with a little bit of humor, darkness, and introspection. I still like all of those things. C.S. Lewis wrote, “I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is only enjoyed by children is a bad children’s story.” When I read The Fat Cat as an adult, I’m still delighted by the thought of the cat eating a whole pot of hot gruel (and the pot, too), and the absurdity of his insatiable appetite that compels him to eat the series of silly characters he meets along his journey to self-fulfillment and self-destruction. And how is it possible that the woodcutter axes The Cat open and he survives without any proper surgery or anesthesia? Haha, it’s so good! Highly recommend.
KG: I’m definitely going to look for Fat Cat at the library. Amanda released a new album last fall and you can see her and her band at the Folklife Festival on the Vera Project gallery stage, May 27 at 5pm.
Beth Whitney:
BW: Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was and is my favorite children’s book. I think I’m drawn to it for many of the same reasons I was as a kid. I’ve been told more than a dozen times that I was an odd kid, poetic and insightful but still, quite odd. Silverstein writes with full imagination tempered with a bit of polished melancholy, an embraced loneliness, and humored grit. As a kid I was consciously drawn to the rhyme, the humor, the stories, and the pictures, but I think underneath I felt understood and embraced between the pages. Reading them now to my son, I am further drawn to the subtle and good-humored jabs at society and an author who is nobody but himself.
KG: I loved Shel Silverstein too and I need to revisit his work now that I’m grown. I have always wondered why his publisher let him have such creepy author photos on the backs of his books.
Lana McMullen:
LM: My favorite children’s book, both currently and when I was a kid, is Miss Rumpus – or what my sister and I called, “The Looping Lady.” I have found, however, that my reasons for connecting to it have changed a bit over the years. When I was a kid, I loved the beautiful pictures and the idea of someone planting flowers everywhere she went. I connected with the free-spirited, whimsical representations of living by the sea and loved that it reminded me of my mom, who is a very skilled and dedicated gardener. When I read it most recently, however, I was taken by the allegorical nature of the story – by the underlying theme of doing what you can to make the world a more beautiful place and leaving behind a community that is more joyful and connected than you found it.k
KG: This is another book I’ve never read and have to check out.


Now it’s your turn. What was your favorite children’s book and how has that book changed as you grew up? Leave us a comment and let us know.