First read: 1990
Owned since: 1990
I've done some shopping for baby presents lately, and I like to give new parents books. You can't start reading to kids too early. Books make the world bigger, and shape children's understanding and expectations of how the world works.
This is the second volume of a three-volume set; I gave the first volume to a little girl I tutored, years ago. Book II includes several of my favorite children's stories, including Chapter One of Ramona the Pest, Harry Allard's The Stupids Step Out, "Eeyore Has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents," and the complete text of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.
My favorite story in this collection, though, is Maria Leach's "The Yellow Ribbon," which I first heard a version of in Girl Scouts. It is a very short story -- not even two pages long -- about John and Jane, who are sweethearts from childhood. Jane wears a yellow ribbon around her neck every day. John always asks Jane, "Why do you wear the yellow ribbon?" and Jane always says that maybe she'll tell him later.
They grow up and get married and get old together, and one day, when Jane is very old and very sick, John asks again why she wears the yellow ribbon.
"All right," said Jane, "you can untie it."
So John untied the yellow ribbon, and Jane's head fell off.
When I was nine years old, I thought that was hilarious. It still makes me laugh. Something is wrong with me...