If you’re going to read the same book to your toddler fifty times in a row, make sure you don’t want to gouge your own eyes out in the process.
I’ve found quite a few books that my husband and I adore reading to our sons, many in thanks to my comic convention attending friends. The Mini Myths Board Books came to us, as so many wonderful enrichment does lately, through our local library.
I saw them before every story time: Be Patient, Pandora and Play Nice, Hercules. Illustrated to perfection by Leslie Patricelli (famous in my house for her Potty book), these are not dumbed down versions of Greek mythology. These board books take the essence of each character’s story, fine tune it for a developing mind, and create situations that any child can understand. Unlike other stories for the very young, parents can easily enjoy the mini myths without rolling their eyes. (Although I have to admit that when we saw the title Don’t Get Lost, Odysseus, my husband and I did roll our eyes, but in gleeful love of such an adaptation.)
Here is just a taste of their awesome series:
Be Patient, Pandora
Since my toddler could use a little more patience (as could I), I checked out Be Patient, Pandora on a whim. It was on our couch for a day before he looked at it. He asked me to read it, and again, and by the third time, we couldn’t pass a page without LPD* acting every gesture and facial expression of his newfound friend Pandora. We spent a lot of time on the “cupcakes” inside her mother’s box (“cake” being a relatively new word), and also re-enacted Pandora’s asking if her mother can still love her: she sure hopes so.
This certainly isn’t the book to teach patience (for being mischievous and impatient, Pandora gets cupcakes and a big hug), but it’s a cool introduction to the myth. Leslie Patricelli’s illustrations have a beautiful way of entrancing young children, and I get a geeky kick from seeing Joan Holub’s interpretations of each story.
[*Little Pirate Dude – Probably not the child’s legal name, but knowing the parents… hmm. – Editor]
Make a Wish, Midas!
All Midas wants is for everything in his life to be yellow. His mother must invest heavily in yellow paint, because he only paints in yellow – at least, this week. Any toddler parent can tell you that these obsessions may last years or one meltdown. These details are part of the brilliance of the Mini Myths; young children see how their brains work in these interpretations, and parents understand how their counterparts must allow their children to paint everything yellow, then calm their tears when a favorite stuffed animal turning yellow pushes the child over the edge. This is why washer/dryers were created, however, and it’s a lovely nod to the original story when Midas watches his dinosaur get cleaned to the tune of:
Don’t Get Lost, Odysseus
I personally recognize this situation from so, so many trips with my son.
Please, just stay by me for one more minute. I just have to take my eyes off you for one second to pay for this.
And, he’s off, and I hastily sign my name while monitoring where he ran, knowing it was toward that playland that looks old and crappy to me, but a three year-old just can’t resist the Sirens over the door. They can’t resist the Cyclops slide or the sail boat. Then they get lost and can’t see their Mommy and their friends can’t help and they are just crying in the middle of a sea of other kids (who just happen to be Pandora, Andromeda and Midas) until their Mommy reveals that she’s been watching from the entrance the entire time and you run to hug her, your home base, your island, while she assures you that everything will okay.
Oh, yeah, and my kid likes it, too. “Slide!”
Great Job, Athena
Brush Your Hair, Medusa is actually my next favorite one, but I have to discuss Great Job, Athena. Athena is the nerdy girl who ties bows really well. She ties really great bows, and ties them on her owl and other awesome iconic toys. Then Ariadne asks her to tie the bows on her shoes and everyone admires them. But can Ariadne show everyone how to tie those awesome bows? Of course not, and it takes her a page or two to admit that Athena is the one that taught her how to do it.
Other books include Be Careful, Icarus!, Please Share, Aphrodite!, Brush Your Hair, Medusa! and Play Nice, Hercules! I really appreciate not only the wonderfully crafted adaptations but also the fact that not all of the protagonists are white. Upon the tenth reading of the entire series (great for potty training), I see how Holub also took great care in the characters of the parents being faithful to their inspirations as well.
Because really, we’re the ones who have to find some joy in reading the same stories over a million times.
“Mommy. More book now!”
I don’t even make him say please for that one.