One of Stacey’s birthday parties. She’s holding up something. I’m on her left in the white dress and bowl cut. (I’m still friends with some of these girls!)
When I was a kid, all the girls in my class wanted to get invited to Stacey’s house. Her home was complete with lots of rooms, teenage siblings, a beautiful mom that wore Dr. Scholl’s, a silver Trans Am, an outside playhouse, guinea pigs, and a secret passageway that led to a secret room.
I’m happy to say Stacey and I are back in touch. She’s a vet and mom to two kids. They gifted us two of their favorite books hailing from their former home of Maine.
The Circus Ship
In 1836, a side-wheel steamer ship set off with an unusual cargo – circus animal, people, and a band. A festive crowd gave it a big send-off. Tragically, the boat caught fire, people perished, and rumors lingered that the animals made it to islands on the Maine coast.
Chris Van Dusen was inspired by these true-life events when he wrote the gorgeous (and happy) The Circus Ship. His ship capsizes off the coast of Maine and the animals swim to shore and begin living among the people. At first they are seen as pests but in a plot twist, “the animals weren’t bothersome, the animals were kind!” the villagers come to love them.
This isle of Maine is crazy for animals.
During our last reading, Max pointed out, “Well Mama, in real life, I don’t think the lion would get along with the people because of his sharp teeth.”
When the evil circus owner comes back to claim the animals, the townspeople disguise their new friends. This page of the book never fails to be fun; you have to find the hiding animals. My boys never tire of it.
The Wicked Big Toddlah
If you’re a parent, you’ve experienced the beauty and stress of toddlerhood. Everything is a joy and a death trap. Imagine if your baby was a giant. This is the premise for Kevin Hawkes’ The Wicked Big Toddlah. Toddie, a Maine baby, is so wicked big he comes home on the back of a flatbed truck. The antics of Toddie and an entire town trying to care for him are hilarious.
“How do you think that toddler got those big clothes and that big hat?” Max asked.
“This caution tape is holding the people back because that diaper is the stinkiest thing in the world!” said Max.
A favorite page for my family is when he gets his diaper changed; a helicopter hovers with talc. Poop never gets old with this crowd.
My memory of having two wicked big toddlers is pretty sharp, through a sleep-deprived lens. Thinking of a giant toddler gives me a wicked big stomach!
Where to buy these books and other info
Buy The Circus Ship from Van Dusen’s website and he’ll direct you to Indie bookstores. I’ve been meaning to check out his book about Cincinnati native President William Howard Taft. President Taft is Stuck in the Bath looks hilarious.
I’ve bought The Wicked Big Toddlah from Cincinnati’s Blue Manatee Bookstore and deCafe. If they don’t have it, they will order it. If you buy it off Hawkes’ website, he will sign it. My boys also love The Wicked Big Toddlah Goes To New York.
Calvin and Max were wicked cute toddlers.