Friday, January 5, 2018

Noah’s Ark by Dorothy Bell Briggs; illustrated by Elizabeth Webbe (1952)




“Blue Grandma” (because she had a powder blue pickup truck) read to my brother and I all the time.  She was cuddly and had a soft, gentle, crackly reading voice, the perfect voice for a bedtime story.  We wanted her to read to us ALL the time (my other grandma wasn’t cuddly like this; I don’t ever remember her reading to us; but she taught us how to play cards, which was just as important).  She read us three books we requested over and over again:  The Poky Little Puppy, Peter Rabbit, and Noah’s Ark.

My brother, I think, especially loved Noah’s Ark (I was more of a Poky Little Puppy fan, I think).  But we both thought it was hilarious.  There were several scenes we particularly loved in the book.  

“Two little gray squirrels.”  My brother and I would watch the squirrels at grandma’s feeder all the time:  one was named Monkey (my brother’s) and the other was named Charlie (mine).  These were lithe little red squirrels, not big fat gray squirrels.  But that little fact didn’t matter when reading this book with Grandma:  those two squirrels in the illustrations were Monkey and Charlie.
“Leaping high, having heard the news / Over the hill came the Kangaroos.”  For some reason, this scene made my brother and me giggle.  I think it’s because the rhythm is perfect; there is a bounding quality to these lines, just like kangaroos bouncing over the hills. The rhythm is different from teh other stanzas in the book, unexpectedly bouncy and rhythmic.  To me, at least, this one of those perfect lines in literature, and probably subtly has influenced my appreciation of various kinds of art ever since.  
“Huffing and puffing... and terribly late.”  I can remember liking the page about the hippos too; it’s toward the end of the book, they are the last animals to arrive, and something about their faces and the stanza just was comforting and sweet.  


I truly treasure my worn, beat up copy.   

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