When my son was born, we took great care to outfit our house with everything a baby might need. Soft blankets, colorful blocks, nutritious snacks. But there was one staple I went a little overboard with.
I wanted my child to be surrounded by books. I couldn’t enter a bookstore without browsing the children’s section. Garage sales and thrift shops would see me snapping up every baby book I could find for 10 cents or a quarter.
I’ve always loved books, and I wanted my kids to love them too.
My passion for words and stories goes back a long, long way, to one particular book that my mother bought for me when I was nearly 3 years old, Pickle-Chiffon Pie by Jolly Roger Bradfield. It remains my all-time favorite children’s book to this day.
Mom must’ve read it to me a lot, because it’s the one story I remember the best. And believe me, my childhood was filled with good books. As I was going through my own book-buying mania for my son, I kept an eye out for Pickle-Chiffon Pie, because it was long out-of-print at the time. Copies could be had on eBay for up to $80, which I just wasn’t willing to pay.
Finally, when my son was about four, my mom found the well-preserved book somewhere in her house and mailed it off to me.
Something quite magical happens when you hold a treasured childhood item in your hand after nearly 40 years. And when I first read it to my son, he was instantly enthralled by the story of princes, giants, and juggling lions.
Just take a look at Mr. Bradfield’s artwork. Who wouldn’t love a three-headed marshmallow-roasting dragon!? Some might say that the story of three princes competing for the hand of a princess is dated, but I don’t believe so. It’s a fairy tale, after all. A tale in which the nice guy finishes first for a change. How refreshing! It also offers a valuable lesson to kids that kindness and generosity can reap rewards.
It’s a wonderful book for both boys and girls. I read it to both my kids dozens of times over the years, and it remained one of their favorites up until the day they grew too old to have me read to them. Unlike some of the tongue-twisting Dr. Seuss books that grow stale after multiple readings, Pickle-Chiffon Pie was a joy to read out loud every time.
The good news is that the book was reprinted several years ago and is now available at Amazon.com and other bookstores. And apparently more of Bradfield’s back catalog will be reissued in the near future. I highly recommend all of his work, but Pickle-Chiffon Pie in particular is the one that truly brings the magic spark to fire a lifetime of reading.