It was a day seven of #PiBoIdMo and I had been stretching my brain all day for an idea. When I am at loss for inspiration I usually turn to the pile of picture books sitting by my desk that I have checked out from my local public library. But it had been a while since I had been to the library. I think I was avoiding my library fines. I am terrible at returning library books and 25 cents per book, per day adds up quickly when you have a stack of 11 picture books. So, after some deep searching for inspiration, (which will never be found on Facebook or Pinterest) I scanned my desk one last time and there it was, The Purple Pussycat by Margaret Hillert and Krystyna Stasiak. I was visiting my parents the other day and my mother passed along the book to me saying it was the first book I learned to read.
I could never forget The Purple Pussycat. So, with nothing else new to read, I cuddled up with the soft worn cover, yellowed pages and familiar hues. I was sure the Purple Pussycat could help.
The Purple Pussycat was published in 1950 by Modern Curriculum Press. I don’t normally read a lot of early reader books, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to in my mind, but I guess this is as good of a start as any. My 1st grade teacher mother says this would be a difficult book for a first read. The words are not phonetic, rhyming, repetitive or even descriptive so I don’t know if this is a good example for writing, but then again it was written over a half century ago. I thought the book would be confusing to a child. The dialogue switches from the boy to the cat throughout the book, but nothing ever signifies who is talking.
In The Purple Pussycat, the boy goes to bed and the cat jumps out the window to go explore the night. The storyline is a fun idea but I feel the writing could have been a lot better. But then again, if the goal of the book is to encourage early readers, maybe I should be judging it on different standards. Rewriting the book with the same storyline would be a fun practice I’ll try to get to someday. Also, I was reading the book so analytically. I wish I could remember what it was like to read those pages through my little four year old eyes, discovering the pages and a whole new world of reading, just like the cat was discovering the magic outside the bedroom window for the first time. The cat reminded me a little of Will Ferrel in Elf and I guess we should all strive to keep a little magic and surprise in our lives.
Aside from the writing, the illustrations are fun with a lot of texture and patterns. The cat appears to be a stuffed animal and leads you to question if the purple pussycat is a real cat or a stuffed animal that has come to life.
Reading an early reader book like The Purple Pussycat did help me expand my thinking about the realm of children’s picture books. I walked away with a fun little walk down memory lane and some fun ideas for #PiBoIdMo. How often do you turn to old classics for inspiration? How do you think children’s picture books have changed over the years?