I've been feeling shame-faced about trying to take down Strawberry Shortcake. I mean, she too is loved. Who am I to mock what kids go for? And we are all, in some way, God's poor flawed children, right? Even the person who wrote Meet Blueberry Muffin. I suppose on some level I subscribe to The Believer's tenet (poorly paraphrased): snarkiness gets you nowhere (though I do enjoy reading some scathing reviews, but it's probably not my best self that enjoys it).
And it is in that spirit that I thought for a while about what I love, what I feel is the other side of the Strawberry Shortcake coin, and it's this:
This was not a book of my childhood, I somehow missed it entirely, and when Diana was about 3, and was already blazingly and wonderfully, um, individual, a friend gave her this excellent book, along with a very nice plastic cow and baby bull, saying, "It's since she's a Ferdinand." And I had no idea what she meant.
Then I read it, and know what you probably all know: that this is a story of a bull who didn't act the way bulls are expected to act. He wants to sit, just quietly, and smell the flowers, while the other bulls jump and fight. And yes, there is a harrowing scene where he sits on a bee (we had to just skip that page for a good many years). And yes, you might have to talk a bit about bullfighting, which is dicey even among adults. But the drawings are so beautiful, and the language is so excellent, and to read it aloud is … it's just wonderful. It's a pure pleasure.