Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too
By Anna Dewdney
Father’s Day isn’t until June 15th of this year, but Anna Dewdney has come up with a dandy picture book for the father/daughter bonding moments that become ever more special and anticipated, in today’s “hurry up” world. The picture book read aloud opportunity here is a moment waiting to happen for daughter and dad. Ms. Dewdney, author of the celebrated “Llama Llama” series is very perceptive in recognizing that relationships in a family usually come from shared time and activities. And over time, it is these shared experiences that form bonds and memories that, at the time, a parent may not even realize they are creating with their child for a lifetime. Childhood today is a faster closing window of opportunity to share, teach, model and love those children that even as we see them toddling along are growing up and away. What to do?
Consult Mr. Gnu. He and his daughter, Nelly best friend of Llama Llama, enjoy a day that unfolds FULL of shared activities such as drawing, reading, painting and building. Courtesy of a huge cardboard box, Nelly and her Daddy Gnu and your young reader can read and rhyme your way along with the Gnu twosome as they fashion a homemade playhouse. A trip to the store provides the needed paints (Nelly chooses a gnu BLUE of course), and other materials for decorating the cozy bungalow for gnus.
What’s this? Will a small crisis ensue when a gnu named Nelly loses sight of Papa Gnu mid shopping? A dizzying display of shoppers with carts camouflage Daddy Gnu for scant seconds, but never fear, Nelly. Ms. Dewdney paints the perfect picture in pastels (from a child’s viewpoint), of being found and lifted confidently into waiting arms that resolves a scary episode that most parents can relate to of losing young ones in a store.
Indulge me for a moment while I relate my own. Small daughter and mom go clothes shopping in a local shop. Mom turns her head for a moment. Daughter is not there when her head swivels back. Panic ensues. Sales staff closes off entries to the two-floored store. Scores of people call child’s name. Night is closing in. Heart is in throat time. Where can she be? Sales woman peers into revolving clothes rack. Small daughter is sitting quietly there. “Are you Jessica?” says the salesperson. Nod of head from the child. Simultaneously laughing and weeping mom presses daughter to her and asks, “WHY didn’t you answer when we were calling YOU?” Reply: “I didn’t want to try on clothes anymore.” I rest my head and case, folks.
And now back to the two Gnus. Anna Dewdney has written a gnu-filled picture book that has an underlying message that is simple and VERY important for families today. It doesn’t much matter WHAT activities a day presents. If it involves planning, sharing and doing, plus child hands on participation, then it will most probably be a hit – for both of you. And if it includes a trip to the store for “stuff” to make, create and decorate, then that is all to the good.
Whether it’s a cardboard box playhouse adorned with painted climbing vines and flowers like Nelly and her Daddy Gnu do or a bunch of chairs put together with blankets over the top for a fort, the end result is the same. Who “Gnu” making a playhouse with Daddy could be so much fun? Anna Dewdney Gnu er knew!
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