Mush, Carrots, Blueberries: Ways to End a Picture Book
A student reporting on Goodnight Moon mentioned a professor who obsessed about circles, and her paper only encouraged me with all the O’s in that title, which are pronounced with a circular-shaped mouth. Bven the letters on the cover slant as if they long to be a circle. My student mentioned the circles made by books read on laps, with a grownup’s arms around a child. Another good circle is shutting a book to open it again, when a child demands, “Again.”
Picture books invite hugs, which often appear as the last image in the book, as I mentioned in a post from last fall. I might now add the three-donkey hug at the end of William Steig’s Caldecott-winning Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, which a student just reported on, though this semester I noticed a bunch ending with food. The round bowl of mush isn’t featured on the last page of Goodnight Moon, when we’re saying goodnight to noises everywhere, but it does warrant its own page near the end.
The Runaway Bunny, another classic by Margaret Wise Brown, ends with the runaway safely home with mother bunny, who gets the book’s last line: “Have a carrot.”
In another homage to circles, Robert McCloskey starts and ends Blueberries for Sal showing the little girl and her mother in the kitchen, making jam. After adventures with bears in the hills, the mother and Sal drive home “with food to can for next winter – a whole pail of blueberries and three more besides.”
At the end of Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Diaz , neighbors come together, inspired by their once-battling cats turned friends. The protagonist’s mother asks the neighbor to come with her cat “and share a dish of milk with us.”
Some good foods are circular, or at least they can be. We’re on now to Winnie-the-Pooh, who after all doesn’t keep his honey in a box, or even a bear-shaped squeezer.