Sunday, September 14, 2008

Off to Berryland (over and over and over again)

By Bruce Degen

1983, Harper

(Board edition 1995)

Our copy of Jamberry arrived slightly used, part of a box of hand-me-downs a relative sent I was still pregnant. I remember looking at its slightly battered cover and thinking, 'Wow, this one's seen better days. It must have been a real favorite.' But paging through it, I wasn't sure why. Really? Strawberry ponies? A tuba-tooting bunny band? Not to mention the simpering, slightly creepy bear who appears on nearly every page.

Funny how a few years actually feeding, changing and bathing a kid changes your ideas about parenting.

I can't remember why I once thought the book in bad shape -- it's not torn, it bears no sticky juice residue or crayon scribbles. And it's WAY cleaner than most of what we bring home from the library. True, several tooth prints dent the cover, but I can no longer remember whether they were put there by Rosie or the little girls who owned it first.

So yeah, this story's sweeter than Splenda, overly precious, and frankly doesn't make much sense. But Rosie loves this book and so I do too now.

Oh, all right: probably love is too strong a word. But "Jamberry" holds a certain place in my heart, somewhere alongside the certainty that part of what's great about motherhood is that my life is no longer all about what I want.

In the past two years, we've read "Jamberry" a lot. Like, REALLY a lot. So much so that in idle moments I sometimes find the verses chugging through my head, unbidden:


Pick me a blackberry!



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