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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.”

One of the most famous last lines in children’s literature may be from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, ending with Max finding his supper in his very own room, “and it was still hot.”

In Eric Hill’s Where’s Spot, a mother finds her puppy in a round basket. Tails wag as Spot enjoys his meal from a round dish.

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. 


Ah, good food and good stories. What could be better!
Sending you the spirits of more good food and stories, Lorraine!


I love the premise of circles, hugs maybe, especially for little children. Favorite books like the ones you shared give comfort like hugs, too. I will add one more: sometimes dog tails 'wag' in circles!

Re: circles

Thanks for the enthusiasm and dog-tail-wagging, where I hadn't seen it. I do love a dog or cat curled up snugly into her own circle.
I love all these circles, Jeannine, especially the ones made on laps.

Another circle book that's a favorite here is Kitten's First Full Moon.
I love Kitten's First Full Moon and the similiar-ish Rabbit one Kevin Henkes put out this year (though without so many circles). Love even more the cuddling around words you're doing these days. Some of my students are surprised they don't remember or even changed some of the stories they heard multiple times, but it's clear they all have warm memories of those circles with book and parents. It makes me so happy to hear of these.