Wednesday, February 5, 2014

For love of the series: Mr. Putter and Tabby



Diversity can be hard to come by in children's books.  I commend our library for including a wealth of books featuring African-American main characters, although perhaps this should not be that big a deal since our neighborhood includes a wealth of African-Americans.  Main characters with disabilities are rare, and when they appear, chances are that the story revolves around their own/someone else's acceptance of that disability.

And then, there are the old people.  If children's literature is to be believed, old people come in three varieties - wise, crotchety, and wise/crotchety.  Or seemingly crotchety, but actually just lonely - and wise.  And these tired tropes are why I adore Mr. Putter.  Because when I read Elijah the tales of Mr. Putter and his cat Tabby, it is evident that yes, Mr. Putter is old, but he was also once young.  And even though he is old, he still does lots of fun things, usually with his neighbor, the indefatigable Mrs. Teaberry.  Seriously, the AARP should hire this guy as a spokesperson.  When I read about Mr. Putter, I can imagine what he might have been like as a middle-aged man, a young man, or a boy.  Because even though he is old, he is still who I imagine he was all along.

(Just in case you were wondering, Elijah loves these books, too, although I think some of the above mentioned nuances might be lost on him.)

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