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In Praise of Mercer Mayer

Mercer Mayer - I Was So MadIn my house, my youngest (4) seems to be in a Mercer Mayer state of mind at the moment. Like every night at bedtime, for the past few months. But I don’t mind at all.

There’s something very sweet about all of Mayer’s “Little Critter” books (some written with his third wife, Gina). My personal favorite is “I Was So Mad.” It makes being mad seem normal, something that we feel but then get over. The family is fairly traditional — dad works, mom stays home and cooks and cleans — but it’s not presented in a heavy-handed way, which keeps my commie-pinko-gender-roles-are-wrong self in check. Mostly I like the voice of the main “Little Critter.” It feels very authentic, the way a kid would talk.

Other stand-outs for me are “Just Me and My Dad“, “Just Me and My Mom“, “Just Grandma and Me” and “Just Grandpa and Me“. They show the importance of one-on-one time in a nice, easy way. I remember having a conversation with a friend who has two children, and he told me that he always did everything with BOTH kids, no matter what. I asked him why and he said that was just the way he thought it should be. I managed to convince him that it was OK to do things with one kid or the other, and he later said that he appreciated the advice. Mayer’s books make the same point, but without hitting the reader over the head.

I’m probably overanalyzing Mayer’s work — OK, definitely. Still, I’m curious who agrees or disagrees with me. And of course, I’d love to hear what books you’re reading with your own Little Critters. So…?

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