Bee's a reading girl. She's obsessed with books and wants us to read to her constantly. She has memorized her favorites and has created little verbal or physical (or combination) routines for nearly every single book.
Two of her favorite topics are animals (especially the sounds they make) and body parts. She can tell you the sounds made by: dogs (bow-wow), cats (meow), birdies (tee-tee), mousies (skeek-skeek), chicks (peep-peep), hens (buk buk kaaaa), horses (neigh thbbttt), monkeys (ooooh ahh), sheep (baaaaa), goats (mehhh), lions (raaaa), dragons (raaaa), donkeys (haw-haw), geese (honk honk), pigs (a failed attempt at snorting), snakes (sssssssssss), elephants (thbbbpttt), seals (arf arf), owls (hoo hoo), frogs (bit bit), and... you know what? I'm going to stop, because I thought I was done at elephants, and then I thought I was done at each of the next four, and I feel like I could spend way too long thinking about all the animals in all the books and puzzles we have downstairs, and my brain can't stop. (I just remembered crocodiles, snap, should be on the list.)
Anyway, she never refers to the animals by name, only by sound. And whether she sees an animal in real life, a photograph, a cartoon drawing, a painting, on a puzzle piece, or what have you, she can usually guess what animal it is and tell you the right animal sound without being asked.
Body parts are her other favorite. She can identify, on herself as well as other people, animals, and pictures of people or animals: head, hair, eyes, eyebrow (ah-bow), ear (eeee), nose (nooo), teeth (tee), tongue, mouth, chin, neck, chest, arm (she pronounces this the same way Homestar Runner does), elbow (bo-bo), hand, fingers, tummy, belly button, knee (knee), legs, feet (eet). The ones without parentheses are the ones she doesn't say out loud, but will point to when asked.
So if you know the book From Head to Toe by Eric Carle, you might guess that this is one of Bee's favorite books of all time. A body part to move AND an animal sound to make for each page? Could there BE a better book?
I'll agree that this is a great book. And we love Eric Carle. Heck, back in 2004, when we were in college, my parents met Dude's parents for the first time, and we all went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art together. Still, though, I find myself hiding it a lot. The way Bee feels about this book shows off her feisty toddler personality, which I love to pieces. She is so funny and passionate and melodramatic.
It goes like this. I'll be doing something or other, picking up toys or tidying up the kitchen or sitting on the couch, while Bee is perusing her bookshelf. She spies it - the best book ever, From Head to Toe, sitting there on the shelf, waiting for her. If you think it's going to be greeted with a huge grin, or some positive expression at all, you're wrong.
The anger begins. She yanks the book off her shelf, hollering madly, running to me with the biggest, grumpiest pout on her face.
She's mad because this book was on the SHELF! On the SHELF, Mama! We haven't been reading this ALL THIS TIME! How DARE you?
Trying not to laugh, I calm her down, and I even get her to sign "please" with a big smile. She enjoys the first few pages with an I've-missed-you franticness that is slowly lost as she tries unsuccessfully to turn her head (she always turns all the way around) or raise her shoulder (she does this knee-bend pelvic thrust thing). We bark at the seal and meow at the cat, and everything's fun. We're having a good time.
We turn to the elephant page. The lower lip trembles. She makes the elephant sound and stomps her foot with me, and I turn the page. To the very last page. She hardly lets me read it, refuses to wiggle her toe with me, and resumes the pre-book anger as soon as I snap the book closed. Sometimes at this point, she hurls herself to the floor, wailing about the injustice of the world, the world with never-ending books, the world with Mamas who actually go so far as to HIDE books.
Most of the time, she can get it together, sign "please," bring me the book with a teary smile. If so, I'll read it again, maybe even another 5-10 times in a row, opening right back to the first page as soon as I finish reading the last page, and just when I think I'll lose my mind she loses interest. I hide the book in the couch, knowing that somehow, it will find its way off the couch and onto the floor and then back onto the shelf, and it will happen again before I know it.
Know what would be great? An opera about the life of a toddler, filled with emotion and melodrama and passion and singing.