It’s Reading Rainbow time! Ahh Reading Rainbow. Those were the good ol’ days of educational programing. Anyone remember Mathnet? Or 3-2-1 Contact? The Bloodhound Gang? Those were the days, I tell ya.
But right now it’s Reading Rainbow time at my blog. Remember back in the 80’s when a very sunny and animated LeVar Burton would introduce any number of splendidly nerdy little kids in their knee-high socks, ginormous glasses, nutshell haircuts and incredibly adenoid laden voices who would then sit like little puppets and tell why they loved a particular book, giving you a brief synopsis of the book but then never giving the whole story away lest they might unwittingly unwhet your appetite to go out and actually read the book for yourself? That is what I’m about to do to you. Except without the adenoidal overtones or the knee-highs. Or any of those other things.
The Old Woman and The Willy Nilly Man by Jill Wright is in fact THE best picture book ever. Bar none.
(What is the etymology of the phrase “bar none” anyway?)
Okay, so it might have a few competitors for that title but seriously, if you want a good belly laugh and a durn simple plot, this book is the ticket. It’s like a Shel Silverstein picture book but in the vernacular of Huckleberry Finn.
My sister gave this book to my boys for Christmas. Crazy irony unrelated to the actual topic of this post is that she bought the book used in the Bay Area and it still had a bar code from the Edmonton, Alberta Public Library system on its cover. Weird. And as mentioned, totally unrelated to my point here.
It’s my humble opinion that some books need to be read by someone familiar with hillbilly vernacular. This is one of those books. Now, to be fair, this book can in fact be read pretty well by anyone, hillbilly blood in their veins or not, because it has accurate hillbilly spelling for the convincingly realistic pentasyllabic hillbilly pronunciations of otherwise monosyllabic words. (Got that?) But when I saw the book it was clear to me that my husband who has a hard working, God fearing, pig raising, honest to goodness hills of Tennessee hillbilly pedigree, needed to be the one to read this book aloud to the kids. And I must say he didn’t fail to live up to my high expucktashuns.
He’s reeeaal good at voices. Speshully little old hillbilly lady voices and Grumpy gruff heavily bearded reclusive hillbilly voices.
The story is about a little old woman who has a problem. Her shoesies don’t let her git no sleep a’tall at night b’cuz they keeps a dancin’ all night long no matter what durn thing she stacks a’top ’em to keep ’em from dancin’ like that.
So she goes to the Willy Nilly Man who apparently is known in them thar parts for havin’ a knack for fixin’ things like crazy dancin’ little shoesies.
He’s a wildly bearded man who lives in a backwoodsy hovel somewhere outside of the realm of ordinary folks because he’s jess, well… differnt. Such as he bangs pots and pans (for a living?) and is always bein’ follerred by a raggedy mangy band of stick skinny scritch-scratchin’ dogs who haven’t eaten’ nothin’ a’tall for 7 months ‘cept mebbe for the scraps of old crusties that they lick offt the bottom of the Willy Nilly Man’s old discarded shoes I s’pose.
I won’t give the whole story away cuz then ya wouldn’t go ‘n’ buy it fer yerself or nothin’ would ya? And that wouldn’t be fittin’ a’tall. Ya gotta read it to fully ‘preciate its splendiferocity.
But I will tell ya that the cunnin’ little old woman has a way to get to the Willy Nilly Man that he jess never suspected a little old woman could.
So go buy the book so you can find out what happens. And so you can get a good belly workout. And so you can have a newfound reason for living. And help the cause of world peace ‘n stuff. It’ll be money well spent. I promise. If it’s not, you can jess take the book down to the old Willy Nilly Man yerself and he can use the extra paper fer somethin’ unsavory-like fer sure, doncha know!?