Get dressed — or undressed!

Getting dressed can present an interesting challenge for parents and for children.  Some kids insist on wearing only pink — pink socks, pink pants, pink shirts, pink undies, pink everything.  Some kids have one favorite t-shirt that they want to wear day in and day out, until it’s a thread-bare rag that’s ready for the trash heap.  Some kids want to wear dresses, high heels, & lipstick when they haven’t even hit their third birthdays.  And some kids would prefer to spend all day running around without a stitch on their bodies!  Definitely a challenging aspect of raising a child.

For those of you knee deep in these challenges, here are some books you may appreciate:

Princess Bess Gets Dressed by Margery Cuyler — When I first grabbed this book off the New Books shelf, I was skeptical.  The cover is adorned with a crown-clad princess dressed in a billowy gown that’s covered with a multitude of sparkly, pink bows.  I thought the book would be filled with frills and fluff, and little substance — another in a long line of books trying to ride the coattails (or rather feather boas) of Fancy Nancy.  But I’ve been well-trained not to judge books by their covers (I probably invoke that age-old adage ten times a week!), so I soldiered on, pink sparkles or not.  I’m sure glad I did.

Princess Bess tells the tale of a perky princess who spends her days in outfits most girls only dream of: pink tutus, velvet capes, and sequined shawls — this girl is clearly a fashionista.  But right from the start, she states, “What I really want to wear…is a secret I can’t share.”  It’s only when she’s sent to bed that she gets to frolic around in her favorite outfit — her underwear!  Delightful illustrations are complemented by cheerful rhyming couplets in this story that will charm princesses and tomboys alike.  And the surprise ending (no feather boas, bejeweled crowns or velveteen for our Bess!) will tickle the funny bones of even the most ardently anti-pink!

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems — I have yet to read a Mo Willems book that didn’t make me laugh out loud, and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed is no exception.  Pretty much the opposite of Princess Bess, Willems’ tale introduces Wilbur, the naked mole rat who likes to get dressed.  Even though the other naked mole rats make sarcastic comments about his clothes-loving proclivities, Wilbur boldly opens a clothes store.  This proves too much for the outraged naked mole rats.  They haul Wilbur off, yelling “Naked mole rats don’t wear clothes!” to which Wilbur replies, “Why not?”  The mob demands action from the naked mole rat patriarch, Grand-pah.  Grand-pah decides it’s time for a proclamation.  He arrives to make his proclamation dressed to the nines, and counsels the mole rats “Why not?”

This hilarious and satisfying story hits just the right notes as it teaches its lesson about staying true to yourself.  The pictures are classic Mo Willems — goofy cartoon naked mole rats prance across the page.  The text is classic Mo Willems, too — simple, spare, yet surprisingly profound.  Willems proves in this wonderful story that his knack for picture book writing ranges well beyond the antics of one pesky pigeon.  I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

I’ll be sharing these books — and others — at Family Storytime on Saturday.  10:00 am, Main Library.  So come celebrate getting dressed — and undressed! — this Saturday!

– Sam

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