Tessa just commented on the We Recommend for a three-year-old Beatrix Potter. And I know that I've written quite a bit about fear and books, and how some books are just too scary, even for me. So I am hard pressed to explain my great affection for Ms. Potter.
But there it is. We LOVED these when the kids were little. Peter Rabbit, sure, but even more the really wacked out ones like The Tale of Jeremy Fisher, The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, or the Roly Poly Pudding. Mrs. Tittlemouse, with her tiny, neat house and the invasion of the messy bee, were also compelling. Oh and Squirrel Nutkin, and Tom Kitten, and all those naughty animals. And then there's The Tale of Ginger and Pickles, which is excellent for teaching the budding retailer about credit and cash flow.
Diana especially loved them, but they both did, really. The drawings are truly amazing, and the stories are as well—it's something about the realness of the characters. Everyone is slightly particular, there is a marked absence of mawkishness and adorableness, a dry wit that makes them really fun to read. And the violence, yes there is that, mostly of the nature red in tooth and claw variety, but somehow it never frightened anyone. I am at a loss to explain why or how, I only know that it was true. Maybe it was the drawings? Maybe everyone was too young to have any idea what was really going on? I don't know. But they were really fun to read to little people, and the children were fascinated by all of them. And yes, Tom kitten was tied up and about to be eaten and all that, but what are you going to do? I don't think it harmed anyone to know about farmers wanting to put bunnies in pies (yum); for us, these books were a pleasure.