A tale about a tale

This week, the lil’ monkey’s preschool is on vacation. As evidenced by the yawning gaps between posts, I find myself with a bit more childcare on my hands. In between our many trips to the zoo, the arboretum, the natural history museum, the botanical garden, the planetarium, and the Museum of Modern Art, our guided tours of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, the Google campus, and rehearsals of The Bonesetter’s Daughter at the San Francisco Opera house, our expeditions on a shrimp fishing boat and a local archeological dig, and finally our attendance at talks at the Commonwealth Club, I have occasionally tried to engage them at home so’s to snatch a little time to work.  

(I’d say I was snatching time to watch the Democratic National Convention on CNN, but remember? No live TV! So I’ll have to catch Michelle Obama’s speech on YouTube.) [Later note: who needs YouTube? How ’bout team Obama?]

Fortunately for me, one promising development has been that the girlchild has taken to offering up renditions of her favorite “Beatrix Pottery” volumes to the boychild.  Bless his soul, he’s taking a shine to it.

Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin begins, “This is a tale about a tail — a tail that belonged to a little red squirrel, and his name was Nutkin.” Nutkin basically demonstrates himself to be a royal pain in the arse of Old Brown, a dour owl on whose island Nutkin and his numerous cousins are gathering nuts. Without giving away the whole plot, I’ll just say that Nutkin eventually gets his comeuppance, narrowly averting becoming a handbag, or more to the point, Old Brown’s appetizer. [Spoiler alert! He loses the better part of his tail as he makes his escape — thus “the tale about a tail.”]

Of course I use the term “renditions” for a reason. The lil’ monkey isn’t reading in the conventional sense, but rather free-associating the plot-line, based on a combination of her memory and a fairly creative interpretation of the illustrations.


 I can’t recall what she did with the above illustration. Maybe, “When Squirrel Nutkin ignores his Baba, his Baba sets the nasty owl on him to threaten to break his little squirrel knees.”

Oh, every now and then, she loses her audience.

Baba’s pretty used to that too. Looks like she’s taking it pretty well. What’s most important is that she’s having a lasting impact, as a role model.

And that’s just the beginning of the story.

4 thoughts on “A tale about a tale”

  1. That first paragraph made me want to move to San Francisco. Like now. And of course…like I wasn’t already in love with your son: now I have your daughter’s adorable feet.

    I’m also a bit miffed that her feet are so clean. If I was to lift up the bare soles of one of mine right now who knows what I’d find?

  2. Even if 9/10ths of the first ¶ was an eeeeeeeensy big exaggerated?

    SF would welcome you and yours with welcome arms, sister! And as to the feet cleanliness: I’m shocked myself. Didn’t even Photoshop ’em that-a-way. Must have been a fluke.

  3. I read that first paragraph and I though “Good golly, they’ve been busy!” but by the time I got to the shrimp boat I was a little suspicious, and I’m sorry to say that the Commonwealth Club was a dead give-away! But you had me for a while!

    I love how lil’ peanut has his hands folded over his little peanut-belly while being read to.

  4. Now I know why my 3 year old is afraid of owls. They are usually portrayed in such scary creatures. I think it’s the eyes that make him cringe. So, thanks for this glimpse at a book we should avoid until the phobia passes.

    Such adorable little ones!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.