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April 30, 2003

A Primer For Frances

Since we checked out of the library two weeks ago, Bedtime for Frances has been near or at the top of Ngnat's bedtime story list. I assume because the book has suggested several new stratagems for Ngnat to try in order to delay bedtime each night. Circle Dogs has also been popular, but Frances is the clear winner.

It's interesting to read her books from a generation or two ago, before the PC lobby placed its claws on the throat of children's publishing. Frances is threatened with a spanking, something I have never seen in a recently published book, and Doctor Dan features not only toy guns, but a fight between cowboys and Indians. I'm thinking about writing a children's book that features both guns and spanking, perhaps with a smoker just to give it flavor ; say something where a boy gets spanked by his uncle the Marlboro man after practicing poor gun safety on a deer hunt. I'll throw the PC industry a bone and make the Uncle a member of the Pink Pistols; surely it'll be more saleable that way.

Among the other attractions Frances has for Ngnat is a song she sings at one point;

A is for apple pie, B is for bear,
C is for crocodile, combing his hair,
D is for dumplings.....

The book then skips E to R, as Frances goes to tell her father about yet another reason she is not asleep yet, then finishes with

S is for sailboat, T is for tiger,
U is for underwear, down in the drier

It has the feel of something that the author (Russell Hoban) cut for space, rather than never wrote, but I've been unable to find a complete version, or even a suggestion that there ever was a complete version. Since Ngnat has started to sing that particular passage along with me each night, I felt it behooved me to make up my own for her. The original, slight as it is, suggests a combination of the familiar and the surreal, which I've tried to keep.

A is for apple pie,
B is for bear,
C is for crocodile, combing his hair.
D is for dumplings,
E is for egg,
F is for Flamingo, shaving a leg.
G is for Garbage can,
H is for Ham,
I is for Icicle, dipped in jam.
J is for jelly fish,
K is for key,
L is for lobster, drinking his tea.
M is for monkey paw,
N is for nails,
O is for omelet, stuffed with snails.
P is for pangolin,
Q is for queen,
R is for rhyming skills, mine are keen.
S is for sailboat,
T is for tiger,
U is for underwear, down in the drier.
V is for vortex,
W is weird,
X is for xylophone, growing a beard.
Y is for yogurt,
Z is for zoo,
I'll sing this song, again for you!

I should tender my thanks to the Picture Dictionary at Enchanted Learning. It had a plethora of primer examples for every letter, which made the above much easier to come up with. I'll stick a copy into the book before I return it, and save the next patron the trouble of coming up with his own.

Posted by Bigwig at April 30, 2003 12:54 PM | TrackBack
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