In 2018, for Mother’s Day, KrA gifted me Just Me and My Mom by Mercer Mayer. It is a hilarious tale of an anthropomorphic creature who goes on a day-trip to the city with his mom. They take the train to the city and visit museums, an aquarium, a restaurant, and shops, and the child, Little Critter, screws things up in the ingenious ways that only a child with a frog for a pet has the remarkable ability to!
Little Critter buys tickets for the train but promptly loses them while boarding the train. The crowded city overwhelms him and he holds on to his mum’s hand so that she wouldn’t be scared. At the museum, he exasperates the museum guard to no end by picking up dinosaur eggs and trying on native ‘costumes’. He is bored during a visit to the art museum and while his mum shops for clothes. They get thrown out of a restaurant because his pet frog is not allowed there, and they enjoy hot dogs from a stand. All mishaps and misadventures aside, he is a happily tired child on the train ride back home.
It was such a constant delight to read this tale over and over again to D, that for Father’s Day that year, I gifted KrA Just Me and My Dad. Little Critter and his dad go camping, just the two of them, and yet again, the child screws up everything in hilarious ways. He tries to pitch the tent and gets buried under. He tries to launch the boat only causing it to capsize. He manages to catch a fish, only to have a bear steal it away from his cooking pan. He tells his dad a ghost story and ends up feeling awfully terrified. At the end, though, he falls asleep in the tent, happy and content with his camping trip, just him and his Dad.
Little Critter is quite the personification of Murphy’s Law in these two books. Told from his point of view, the stories highlight the straightforward innocence driving his actions as well as the absurdity of adult reactions to the very normal, authentic behaviour of an inquisitive child.
A few months ago, I looked up Mayer on the internet and found that Just Me and My Dad was first published in 1977 while Just Me and My Mom came out in 1990! There are a zillion books in the Little Critter series and Mayer has also penned and illustrated a gazillion other books.
So what’s this mom of a Little Critter-loving child gotta do? Scour the library for more Little Critter books, and place innumerable hold requests. Which is how we’ve devoured eight other Little Critter books so far. Each book has had such an impact on D, I’ll put up detailed posts on them in the coming days. And now that D knows where to look for more books - on the back cover and the back endpaper - he has already determined which books are to be procured next from the library. I am already thinking I’ll gift him the Little Critters collection for his birthday!