in a nutshell

It is fairly common for the Potato to climb into bed with me and landisdad of a morning, especially on cold winter days. Because of a quirk of construction, he has the coldest room in our house, and because of his congenital inability to sleep under blankets, he is often quite cold, which wakes him up. Sometimes, he comes in and just grabs his morning snack of dry cereal, then goes back to his room to read a book. Sometimes he climbs in for a cuddle. On weekend mornings, he will occasionally bring a book into our room to read (as I am often reading in bed when he wakes up).

One iron-clad rule is that he is not allowed to eat his snack in our bed while reading a book, because I do not love the crumbs.

So I performed a double-take last Sunday morning, when in my sleep-addled, blind-as-a-bat-without-my-glasses state I mistakenly thought that he brought a juice box into our bed.

It was, in fact, the Maurice Sendak Nutshell Library (which, to be fair to my near-sightedness, is about the same size and shape as a juice box).

He has been learning the months of the year at school, and he started spelling out the months from Chicken Soup with Rice. I think every parent, once in a while, has a moment where they are thrust back into their own childhood by their children, and that was one for me. I absolutely learned the order of the months from this book, and I can remember obsessively reading over and over again, “In  July I’ll take a peep/into the cool and fishy deep/where chicken soup is selling cheap/selling once, selling twice/selling chicken soup with rice.” Why are they selling chicken soup with rice under the sea? I have no idea, but I was fascinated with that idea when I was little.

I don’t remember having the other books in the Nutshell Library–Alligators All Around, Pierre, and One Was Johnny. Either my little brothers lost/destroyed/ate them or, more likely, we got CSWR as a promotion from Campbell’s Soup, and never had the others.

They are fun books, and very good for a pre-schooler like the Potato, with their cleverly intricate drawings and especially Pierre’s tendency to shout, “I don’ t care!” But they will never replace, for me, the joys of imagining a snowman sitting down to an anniversary party “with cake for him and soup for me.”


February 5, 2008. books for kids.


  1. Jeff replied:

    Sendak’s Nutshell Library is awesome. Have you heard the musical versions? They are terrific!

  2. anna replied:

    I think you might consider buying that child some pjs with feet!

  3. Library Lady replied:

    I just did “Chicken Soup” with the kids last week–I have a big book version I use for story times. Though I have to sing it instead of reading it. SC and JR were both addicted to “Really Rosie” when they were little and the songs are firmly implanted in my head!

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