Tag Archives: Drawings

Just How Old Does He Think We Really Are?

So, there I was sitting in a classroom full of third graders at Awesome Elementary School.

Now, this classroom is run by an appallingly good teacher. I say appallingly because watching her in action makes me realize how very far I have to go if I even want to be considered in the same solar system with her.

Anyway, self-loathing aside done.

She was in the process of reading to the class a wonderful updating of the gingerbread man (“Run, run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!” Yeah, that one. ) fable written and drawn by Jan Brett. The book is called Gingerbread Baby and it’s absolutely wonderful.


The book is beautifully painted, with intricate drawings showcasing fully realized characters in a charmingly rustic setting.

If it wasn’t being read to a class full of students who would have pounded me if I did what I wanted, I would have snatched that book away from the teacher and simply lingered over each sumptuous page.

Just lovely stuff.

Anyway, back to the setting.

It’s obvious from looking at the story that it takes place in the past. The house is located up in the mountains during winter and there is no one else around. It looks like  a sort of alpine farm. The house is obviously a log cabin of sorts and the clothing looks like it came from at least early in the last century, possibly the century before that.

So the teacher asked her class about that setting, knowing that it was set far in the past and figuring that she would get an answer similar to what she was expecting. Her expectations were only moving toward confirmation when she called on a whip-smart young dude named, for our purposes, Raul.

“It was done a long time ago,” Raul said.

“That’s right, Raul. So what–”

“A long time ago, probably in the 1980s or maybe even the 1970s.”

I’m just glad I wasn’t drinking my carbonated caffeinated beverage of choice at the time or I would have spit it all over the classroom.

The teacher, who is much, much younger than I am, still got a good laugh out of it.

We’d forgotten, you see, that time, to a young dude like that, is a very personal thing. If something happened in the past, then, to him, it’s the past of which he can conceive. To him, 40 years ago, is a very long time, indeed.

Even though I slunk out of the classroom a bit chastened, at least I learned something good: Jan Brett made a wonderful book that I will purchase for my own library.

Now if I can just find young dudes or dudettes who will sit still long enough for me to read it to them.

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Dude Review: The Day Leo Said I Hate You

by Richard

Little dudes can have very big mouths. There are occasions when they’ll open their mouths and say something so funny you’ll laugh until you hurt. Then there are the occasions when they say something so mean it will take your breath away. Finally, there are the occasions when they’ll open their mouths and pennies will spill out onto the floor, but that just means you need to do a better job hiding your change.

Little dudes being little dudes and not being, as yet, fully developed moral entities can, on occasion, say things that will hurt their loved ones. Sometimes, like Leo, they might even say, “I hate you” to their mom.

The Day Leo Said I Hate You! is a lovely little book for the preschool-k-grade 2 set. It’s written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Molly Bang.

Leo is a little dude at home with his mom and he’s not having fun. His mom keeps telling him no when he wants to do harmlessly fun things like put string beans into the fish bowl or rolling tomatoes across the floor and squishing them into the wall. Eventually, Leo gets so tired of hearing no that he goes to his room and draws a mean picture of his mom on the bedroom wall.

Of course, Mom doesn’t like that one bit and she tells Leo there’s no drawing on the walls. At which point Leo flips out and tells his mom, “. . . I hate you!”

Immediately, Leo realizes how mean he’s been to his mom and wants to take back what he said, but learns you can’t really do that. And then we all learn a valuable lesson.

Actually, this is a pretty good book for the younger set. Leo and his mom talk about how sometimes it’s okay to say hate, like when you’re talking about how you hate broccoli, but it’s not a good thing to say you hate a person.

The art by Molly Bang is pretty terrific as well. She’s got an interesting visual style in that a lot of the background characters are actual pictures photoshopped into her art. This really lets her cartoony (in a good way) figure drawings stand out all the more, especially with the facial exaggerations Leo makes. It’s really good stuff.

I give this book four dudes out of five and heartily recommend it as a read-together book for little dudes and parents. You can buy it at all the usual places: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the like.

Go ahead and give it a read.

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Birthday Party

As my little dudes get older, I’m finding that birthday parties are becoming a lot less hassle, but a lot more worrying. I mean, when the little dudes were, well, little, they mostly had birthday parties at home. They were productions over which I and my wife, known to some as She Who Loves A Good Party, labored for weeks and, sometimes, months to make sure it was just right.

And, of course, by just right I mean that it was something the adults could enjoy while the little dudes completely ignored everything we’d set up and played off in the corner of the yard.

We probably should have expected this sort of thing considering how we managed the first birthday of all our little dudes. See, we figured that babies that young really couldn’t enjoy the party. Adults, however, could. So we decided to throw a keg party with actual keg.

What? Don’t you judge me. It was fun. I think.

No, I’m pretty sure it was fun. A couple of months after each party pictures started arriving in the mail in plain brown envelopes. I’m pretty sure it looked like we were having fun. Although the inclusion of a whip sort of cast that into doubt.


As the little dudes aged, we started planning the elaborate parties. At one point, I know we even rented a bouncy house and hired a clown who also made drawings of the kids. And, yes, in retrospect, I do understand that was going a little overboard. I think we’ve sort of calmed down.

The little dudes became not-so-little dudes and, when the two oldest hit their teens, they started rejecting the idea of parties completely. That was for little kids. They were grown up. At, say, 13 or so. They wanted to get a couple of their best friends together and head out for a night at the mall, play some games and hit a late movie (all paid for by Mom and Dad) and then head back to the house for a late-night sleepover and more movies. Now that was a party I could get behind.

The youngest little dude, rapidly approaching double digits, still likes to have parties, but not at home. That’s for little dudes and he’s a big dude. Now he wants to go places like laser tag, or bowling, or someplace like that where he and his buds can run around, yell and scream, and generally act like crazed monkeys without getting yelled at. Which is, you know, just about perfect.

I plan on enjoying the heck out of this birthday party, because I have the feeling that we won’t be getting many more.

— Richard

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