Here at A Thousand and One Goodnights, probably-unnecessary-definitely-unsolicited over-analysis is kind of our jam. Children’s books are full of things that are strange and wonderful for reasons that I can’t quite puzzle out, and each successive re-reading usually just ratchets up the strangeness, the wonder and the puzzlement. By the time I’ve read a book for the fiftieth time, I have to resist the impulse to grab someone in the grocery checkout line and ask them things like “Does nobody else think there is an alternate universe in which children find the Very Hungry Caterpillar terrifying instead of reassuring?” I guess it’s a good thing that my podcast partner is a psychologist.
But every now and then I run across a page in a children’s book that beswoggles me so thoroughly that I can’t even think how I could talk it through. That defies explanation as easily as it shrugs off context. So usually I just sputter a little bit and then take a snapshot of the page in question and send it to my wife with a caption like “Wut?”
Take this page from the Little Golden Book called Let’s Go, Trucks! Pretty standard stuff about trucks: concrete mixers, moving trucks, trash trucks. I mean there are some whimsical lines in there, but nothing superbonkers except for this page:
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