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Saturday Book Review: Deceptively Delicious, Stevie, Crawling

October 6th, 2007

Reviewed today:

Hop over to Grasshopper for my review of Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, by Jessica Seinfeld. So sneaky and so yummy! My favorite qualities.

One of my favorite books when I was a kid was Stevie, by John Steptoe. (Harper & Row, first published in 1969.) Steptoe was 17 when he painted the pictures for this book and wrote the story. It’s a classic and I recommend you pick up a few copies for family and to give as gifts.

“One day my momma told me, ‘You know you’re gonna have a little friend come stay with you.’
And I said, ‘Who is it?’
And she said, ‘You know my friend Mrs. Mack? Well, she has to work all week and I’m gonna keep her little boy.’
I asked, ‘For how long?’
She said, ‘He’ll stay all week and his mother will come pick him up on Saturdays.'”

I’ve never forgotten how I felt as a child, peeking over John Steptoe’s shoulder into another child’s life and world. It is a brilliant little book and one that I’ve never let go of — I found my old copy at my mom’s house, tucked it into my coat and brought it home to read to my children. (They’ve already read it several times over, with Grandma.) Its many awards include:

Notable Children’s Books of 1940–1970 (ALA)
“Best of the Best” Children’s Books 1966–1978 (SLJ)
1978 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award
Society of Illustrators Gold Medal
Children’s Books of 1969 (Library of Congress)
Children’s Books of the Year 1969 (CSA)
Black Americans – Minority Groups List (BL)
Notable Books for the Portrayal of the Black in Children’s Literature (Top of the News)
Select Children’s Books of 1969 (Publishers Weekly)
Brooklyn Art Books for Children 1974

See? I’m not the only one who noticed it.

Kudos go out to Elisha Cooper for Crawling, his account (in 24 essays) of his daughter Zoe’s first year. It’s an absolute treat, this one, like a sweet-and-sour cold drink with a twist. I appreciate Cooper’s honesty, his fearlessness in saying in print the things most of us won’t even admit to our friends. I like his sense of humor, his accounts of his travels with his kid and wife, his longing for his former life, his eagerness to forge ahead.

Cooper’s illustrations are delightful in their size and attention to detail. (You may already know him from his work as a children’s book author: “A Good Night Walk,” “Beach,” “Magic Thinks Big” and other titles.) This book moved me. You’ll like it.

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