Our local library, the Burlington Public Library, is particularly generous. One can borrow up to 50 books at a time! And it seems we can renew the books as many times as we please. So far I have renewed several books for D six or seven times. Unless someone has placed a hold on it, of course. Which happens to be the case with this little beauty of a book.*
A Pocket Can Have a Treasure in It by Kathy Stinson and Deirdre Betteridge, both Ontario-based, has been with us for about four months, and remains a much loved and cherished story for both D and me.
The first time we read it, I thought it was mostly a collection of sentences in the structure of the title. “A barn can have a horse in it.” “And a house can have a “me” in it.” And so on. It was only during our second or third reading of it that I paid closer attention to the illustrations and was able to comprehend the cleverness of the structure and the wonderful connection threading through these seemingly disjointed sentences.
The illustrations are deceptively simple. Only a few strokes to convey an endless array of expressions. No more than two dots for eyes, another dot or a dash for the nose, and a curve for the mouth, and Betteridge beautifully provides us all the unalloyed expressions only a child can conjure up on her face. Almost every picture bears a prelude to the following one, leading the reader on and on, and in the end we come back full circle.
The story begins with a child feeding a horse in a barn on the farm she lives in. It moves on to the sun coming out and her father hanging the washing out to dry while trying to get their little pup out of the laundry basket, the arrival of her grandmother and her father then driving away while the child wonders whether a tree can have a cow in it, a gift in a box delivered by a truck, her parent’s car in the distance while the child admires an ant in a hole in the grass, the return of her father along with her mother and a baby (“Can a blanket have a wiggle in it? Let me hold that baby!”), the child having her dinner and bath and changing into pjs all by herself, until right at the end her mum comes to read her a story that has a barn in it, and a barn that has a horse (and now a foal too) in it.
One of D’s favourite bits of the story is “A shirt can have a tummy in it.” As is the title line. Shortly after reading this book, he took to stuffing all his tiny toy cars into his T-shirt and proclaiming that a T-shirt can have cars in it. It’s been a long time since he has done this, which reminds me yet again how quickly he’s growing, and how today’s fascination with something will quickly disappear into nonexistence tomorrow, and obviously we won’t remember what we have forgotten.
Another favourite sentence is “A window can have a sun in it.” Whenever we read this book in bed, we’d tug at the blinds to see if sunshine was spilling into his room. It’s been quite a while since that last happened - not our checking through the window but the spilling of sunshine.
I am heartbroken at having to return this book, which means we’ll probably buy a copy to own. A little indulgence, more so for me than for D.
*And which has prompted my return to the blog. How can I let a children’s book go without recording some impression of it on me in my patch of the cyberspace?)