The Dramatic Performance of a Bedtime Story Awards are underway in our house, although neither of us has actually said so out loud.
There are categories for Voice Most Likely To Get Ziggler Giggling (currently I am in the lead with my bizarre Franco-Russian Madam Rosa out of ‘Ella Bella Ballerina does Cinderella’); Most Unexpected Accent (Trulove’s Liverpudlian Tiger Who Came To Tea); and the special Tearjerker award, for which my pathetic rendition of ‘Dogger’ is the favourite, hotly heeled by Trulove’s wistful ‘Peepo’. Occasionally visitors will unknowingly enter the competition. Dad is in the lead in the Dr Seuss category with his lusty ‘Lorax’ and mum is a hot tip for the Julia Donaldson Award, with a particular mention for her rousing ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ soundbook edition.
When Ziggler was tiny, we bought her a copy of ‘The Snail and the Whale’ and I am embarrassed to admit that not only did I read it to my 12 week old, but, you know the bit where the whale sings to the snail ‘Of shimmering ice and coral caves / And shooting stars and enormous waves’? I actually sang that bit to a special tune I had made up for the purpose. These days, I’m so knackered and desperate to see the back of the kids by story time that I often count ‘That’s not my cat / fire engine / monster / briefcase’ as the story and snap it shut with a ‘Right! Teeth time!’ as quickly as I can, except when other adults are around to appreciate my performance. That makes me sound horrid. Sadly, it’s true.
Anyway, Pickle, at not quite 18 months, loves reading. She will take herself off and read for ages. I’ve mentioned before that she’s a genius, and when she’s not inhaling Dostoyevsky or committing Milton to heart, she’s looking at pictures, turning pages and jabbering to herself very convincingly (and sometimes, I’m sure, in a bizzare Franco-Russian accent). She points at things and names them in her unintelligble Pickly way and she can be distracted from any tantrum with a book, a cuddle and a cushion. We don’t have the space to give her A Room of Her Own but we have hastily plonked a beanbag next to the shelf where the kids’ books live and have named it the Story Corner (it’s not a corner, but – y’know). I might start doing book reviews specific to Pickle’s interests, with headings such as ‘flaps – do they pull off easily (plus points for ‘yes’)?’, ‘How chewable was this book?’ and ‘Does it have a cat in it?’.
I’ll let you know the outcome of the Storytime Oscars® when the final vote is in. Alas, our carpet is less red than beige-y baby-sick-splattered and the gowns will be more dressing than evening, but there’s no doubt the prizes are as hotly contested as they are in Hollywood.