By Taro Yashima
1958, Viking Press
Paperback by Puffin Books
A Caldecott Honor book
Lately it's been all about the frog boots. They are, of course, very green. Rubber, like all rain boots. With eyes on the toes and loopy handles on both sides with which to pull them on. A bit too big, quite possibly oozing phthalates, but totally cute.
And Rosie LOVES 'em. With a serious, dogged, unjaded, two-foot-tall love. A love so ardent it hints toward an inner geek, waiting to mature and be redirected toward Tolkien, clarinet or videogames. (Please, let it be clarinet.)
If we did not hide them from her, Rosie would wear her frog boots every day. All day. Over elastic-waist pants. Beneath fancy dresses. To the playground. Daycare. Or just around the house. She's been known pull them on a last time at the end of the evening, clomping down the hallway clad only in a diaper and frog boots, en route to her bedtime bath.
So of course we couldn't resist "Umbrella." The wistful little tale, set amid dreamy illustrations, follows the author's daughter as she waits anxiously for an autumn shower to allow the debut of her 3rd birthday gift, red rubber boots and an umbrella. When Momo's wish finally comes true, she treads carefully to and from nursery school, clutching her prized possession.
We read the book four times tonight: First at the neighborhood bookstore, where we found it. Again in the car on the way home. The third time snuggled together in the big brown chair in the living room. And one last time before bed.
And each time I choked up in the final pages, which so beautifully explain why Yashima has chosen to highlight this particular moment of his daughter's life:
Momo is a big girl now,
and this is a story
she does not remember at all .
Does she remember or not,
it was not only the first day of her life
that she used an umbrella,
it was also the first day in her life
that she walked alone,
without holding either
her mother's or her father's hand...