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Simply Read Books, 1/2006
Henry and his father have - a chat - every night at bedtime. The ritual, conducted knee-to-knee in facing comfy armchairs, always begins the same way, with Henry's wanting what all children want: a recounting of the creation story. Not the world's creation, mind you, but their personalized myth. "Tell me," Henry says, "about when I was small."
And because Henry's father is pretty clever at being a father, he answers in the language of imagination and with echoes of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina, Stuart Little and the Borrowers, Flat Stanley and the Lilliputians. Henry,when he was small, was not infantile, but wee.
How wee? Here are just some of Dad's answers: "When you were small we used you a chess piece, because our chess board was missing one of the knights and you were the perfect size."
"When you were small you used a ruler for a toboggan."
"When you were small we let you sleep in one of my slippers. The left one. You used a fuzzy wash cloth for a blanket and a tea bag for a pillow."
There's almost nothing so rare as a picture book that flatters fathers. In far too many, the dads are dumb, or distant, or dispensable. (There's even one in which Dad is a dog - a dismissal obnoxious to both species.) So when you find a book like When You Were Small, in which a father is gently teasing, but more so tender and attentive - be sure to keep it in mind for Father's Day.