Of all the great books my family and I have enjoyed, I found it difficult to narrow the list to those I discussed in “A Dozen Great Books for Young Children” (TOS, Fall 2015). Yet, as high as the bar was for inclusion in that article, two books by Cynthia Rylant made the cut.
Each of those books, Poppleton and Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas is a part of a series. And, although each is excellent in its own right, part of the reason I included these two books is that any child who enjoys them likely will continue on to read the whole series—and, when he’s done with those, he likely will be delighted to discover that the author who penned all of those wonderful books has penned many more.
Cynthia Rylant is a prolific writer, and, although she has written some relatively well-known series, she’s also written a number of less popular but truly wonderful stand-alone stories. I’d like to discuss three of these gems here.
Good Morning, Sweetie Pie: And Other Poems for Little Children, as the title suggests, is a collection of poems meant to be read to young children. In the lead poem, which shares the book’s title, Rylant describes the experience of waking up in a world full of love. It begins:
When the birds begin their singing
And the sun begins its sunning
And the morning glories
Open up all blue . . .
There’s a mama or a papa
Or a Gramma somewhere saying:
“Good morning, Sweetie Pie,
How are you?”
And a child is slowly waking,
Slowly taking his sweet time,
He’s been flying in his dreams
The whole night through.
But his little ears hear someone
And he knows it’s someone dear
Who is saying: “’Morning, Honey,
I love you.”1
The five stanzas that follow are equally beautiful, as they follow the boy’s experiences through breakfast.
In the seven poems that follow, Rylant writes about little boys and girls having fun with those they love throughout the day. A favorite of mine, “Little Cutie Face,” portrays with a delightful cadence the playful adventures of and mutual love between a father and his daughter. It begins: . . .