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Ceridwen

Ceridwen

You kids get off my lawn. 

The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams I am so so far behind on my kiddie-book reviewing that I claimed I would do at the new year that it isn't even funny. So here's a hard one to review.

I read this to my son last week, and it was a total disaster. He's a really sensitive kid, and more so at bedtime because he is tired and thinking. We got to the halfway point, where nothing much has happened by the boy and the rabbit finding their realness together. I put the book down, not really looking at him, and dug around in the basket of toys that no one cares about. I pulled out Kangy, my well-loved childhood toy. She's a kangaroo - *shock* - with a little kangaroo in her pouch. Joey - such an original name - had his ears chewed off by one of the family dogs when the dog was puppy. Joey is also just a head, and the glue that keeps his head/self from flopping out in a slightly macabre manner has long ago worn away. Kangy's glass eyes are scratched and her nose worn off from kisses. I can still feel when I think of it what it was like to kiss her: the burr of the fabric, the dryness. Maybe this is weird. I talked about her to him, and when I looked up, he was bawling. I think he had been before I even got out the toy and started down memory land. "It's kind of sad, isn't it?" he asked me.

"No!" I lied. "Well, it is kind of sad, but it ends well. Why don't I read to the happy parts?"

"Okay," he said, but it's the okay that sounds like kid resignation, where they are putting up with how weird you are as an adult. He's still crying and working a bit of tissue.

I read, and the words keep hitching, like I can't help it, because I can't. This is the part I remember, the part with the scarlet fever. Kids are all different, of course, but as a parent it's hard not to imagine the ones you have begotten are not like you. He is not like me. I loved the drama and romance of these kind of sad, sad, melodramatic stories. I was hook, line and sinker for The Little Match Girl or A Child's Christmas in Wales, with their shared miserable glory. (These are very different stories, I admit, but they both made me cry.) I had forgotten the fairy and the dance of the rabbits on the grass, the wonder of the velveteen rabbit stretching his hind legs for the first time. Then the boy and the rabbit meet again that last time, and I remember that too. I close the book, and turn to my boy, who is still crying. I'm pretty miserable that I've done this to him. I try to sooth him into sleep, but it's a long haul.

I'm not going to star this book. I would have given it five stars, because it does amaze me. But I feel like (sometimes) rating kids' books is weird on GR because it lenses my child's experience through my experience, and those are different things. I should have known better, knowing my son the way I do, that this would hit him wrong, would not be the book for him. Choosing books for children, like adults, is personal, and the rating system, imprecise as it is, doesn't always help with that choice.

The bit of funny I'll leave you with is that as I was reading, before everything went pear-shaped, he pointed to the word "colour", spelled as it was with the British spelling, and said, "They spelled that wrong." Good lad.