About once a week, Sonya and I go to the Grande Bibliothèque, which is literally French for the Big Library. And in this Big Library, there is a fabulous place for young kids: books within reach of persons under three feet, toddler-friendly seating, and an implicit understanding that the whisper-in-the-library rule need not apply in this particular area.
Sonya even has her own library card. Deciding what to get each week takes at least an hour. Sonya wanders around, looks at books, brings some to me, and we maintain a pile next to the stroller until I basically think it’s gotten too tall or we need to move on to snack-time. Sonya is the Gatherer, and for now, until she expresses any preferences, I get to be the Chooser. I usually try to pick mostly French books so that we can both build our vocabularies.
We came across this book last Thursday. It’s basically a reprint of an early nineteenth-century picture book for French children.
Before going to bed tonight, Sonya and I sat down to look at the pages.
The book looks so quaint. It started with the letters of the alphabet. So we sang the song in English (Ay to Zee) and then in French (Ah to Zed).
What fabulous pictures! Initial impression: these pages could be turned into framed wall art in a vintage-inspired nursery.
Oh, a collection of musical instruments! That makes sense. And I learned a few new words on this page, too.
But then— the picture groupings started getting increasingly bizarre. Some didn’t make any sense to me. Why is there a window, a bow and arrow, and an hourglass on the same page? Any theories?
The illustrations also started getting scarier. We’ve got a skeleton with a scythe here, Grim Reaper-style. What is going on? Is this intended for toddlers?
And then the pictures got a little out of control. It was interesting, from the perspective of medical nostalgia, to see a drawing of an ancient syringe (wouldn’t want to receive any injections with that thing in my arm). But WHAT is going on in the lower right-hand corner of this page? Yikes!
The education of babies was certainly different a few centuries ago! Do we sugarcoat things too much now? This book certainly startled me into reflection.