We read at least one book to you every night before bed. At some point you finagled a book before nap time, too. That means we have to read your favorite book to you at least twice per day. Your current favorite is Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.
Your Auntie K gave this book to you. She said it was her brother’s favorite book growing up. When I first looked at it, I thought she must be nuts. It barely has a story. Mostly it is just colorful pictures of vehicles, some realistic (like ditch-diggers) and some completely imaginary (like five-seater pencil cars). And it’s a long book. So very, very long.
Since it has such a minimal storyline, we don’t read it per se. Rather we point to various pictures and talk about them. We look for the goldbug, recite the colors on the rainbow bus, count the flags at the gas station, talk about the broken car near the end of the story, etc.
And since it’s such a long book we don’t read the whole thing every time. We skip pages liberally. You usually accept that without complaint, but there are some sacred pages that must never be skipped.
The sacred pages are all near the end. First there is the mountain scene with the tantalizing glimpse of snow-covered watermelons in a truck. Next is the scene in which the watermelon truck has fallen over, and the watermelons are tumbling wildly down the road. This ultimately causes the multi-vehicle accident in the next scene (we say, “Bam!” and you say, “Make le mess!”). Then at the very end of the book, Officer Flossy finally catches that terrible driver, Dingo Dog, after his car breaks down. You like to comment on the broken steering wheel and the car’s tongue, which is sticking out from fatigue. We dutifully spend time on these important pages every single reading.
After hundreds of readings, I’m more than a little tired of this book, but I have to admit that the picture-inspired dialogue has increased your vocabulary. You recognize bulldozers, cranes, ambulances, and ferries, not to mention cheese cars. Two wonderful Martian terms to come out this twice-daily speech exercise are “tragic cones” (traffic cones) and “squasht-t-t-t” (squashed). And most importantly, you love the book.
So there must be some kind of magic at work in Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. I don’t get it. Maybe you won’t get it when you’re older. But I hope you’ll remember it and pass the book on to another child someday, just as your Auntie passed it on to you, because magic is meant to be shared.