Monday, February 25, 2008

Book note: Alexander, by Harold Littledale

I found another children's book I wish wasn't out of print. Alexander, by Harold Littledale, illustrated by Tom Vroman, Parents' Magazine Press, 1964, is an understated gem of a picture book. (spoilers follow) In short, a father is putting his son Chris to bed, and his son decides to tell him how bad "Alexander" was today, Alexander being a "red horse with green stripes." Alexander spilled his milk at breakfast, wouldn't play with others at the park, broke a jar of peaches in the grocery store, etc., etc., etc. It's clear pretty early that Alexander is really Chris in disguise, although his father doesn't let on that he knows this. Chris finally asks, "Daddy, what are we going to do about Alexander? He's awfully bad sometimes." To which his father asks Chris what he thinks should be done. Chris comes up with dire solutions, which his father gently vetoes, before noting that anyone can have a bad day once in a while, and predicting that Alexander will be a good horse tomorrow. The ending:

"And you'll be a wonderful little boy, too."

Chris giggled. "How did you know I wasn't very nice today?" he asked.

His father turned out the light in the hall. "Alexander told me," he said.

It's a humorous, gentle, but spirited look at a little boy's world, and I'll nominate the father for a Great Fictional Father award. For those of you who can't deal with it, I should probably mention that the father in this book puffs on his pipe while they're having this little chat. Otherwise, I can't see anything anyone's likely to find objectionable.

While we're on the subject, if you know of another Great Fictional Father in a book for younger children, please feel free to drop a note in the comments.

1 comment:

Searching Soul said...

LOVE THIS! Thanks for posting, spoilers and all! I am now on the hunt for a used copy for my 3-year-old niece. Thanks much.