My son is 5, almost 6, and his kindergarten teacher recently sent home a form to fill out about his upcoming birthday celebration at school. She requested that instead of sending a treat (since he’s in an allergy room), one of us brings in a story to read to the class. The story he chose is “Just Grandma and Me” by Mercer Mayer. This choice, may sound a little strange to you, but makes perfect sense to me and I’ll explain why.
The Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer have always been some of his favorite books. The stories are simple and cute and are just about everyday life from the perspective of a little kid. But it’s not really the stories that make these books so perfect. The illustrations tell much more of the story. For example, in “Just my Friend and Me” Little Critter is telling about a playdate with his friend and the words are saying what a great time they’re having, but the pictures show how his friend is being kind of a jerk.
It’s also in the facial expressions of the characters. Certain faces in the story “Just for you” have my son cracking up as soon as I turn the page. He especially loves it when I read the book with a silly voice. In the Christmas one, he loves the page where Little Critter sits on his dad’s head to put the star on top of the tree, because he’s naked!
One of his favorite parts in “Just Shopping With Mom” is when Little Critter’s sister is begging for candy, and his mom asks her, “Would you like a spanking instead?” (This would never be published these days) but it’s so funny, because it seems like a normal everyday threat by this mom. My son just loves it, because he’s always trying to get his sister in trouble, and being the lover of anything violent, I can see those wheels turning in his head when he thinks about the possibility of his own sister being spanked.
So one day, while reading “Just Grandma and Me”, I decided to surprise him at the end of the story, and it went like this: “We had a good time at the beach, just Grandma and me. AND THEN SHE SPANKED ME!!!!”
He was literally rolling on the floor laughing so hard that of course I joined in, and everyone had to come over and see what was so funny. When I told my husband, he totally didn’t get it and looked at me like I was weird. I guess you had to be there. But anyway, that’s why this is my son’s new favorite book, and why he chose it to be read to his class for his birthday. So now I have to decide if I should read it to the class that way with the”special” ending, and totally make my son’s day (and get a strange look from his teacher to be sure), or if I should just read it as it was written, and look like a completely normal mom? I haven’t decided yet.
One more thing I have to say about the pictures in these books. There’s usually a little cricket and a spider on every page that are fun to look for making it kind of like an I Spy book and just adding to the general awesomeness of these books. Good job, Mercer Mayer, and thanks for the years of fun and entertainment. Kids grow up too damn fast, so I’ll definitely be saving these for my grandkids. AND THEN I’LL SPANK THEM!!!! Ha ha, just kidding.