my recent look at my friend Sarah Maizes children’s book led to some comment about how some go on and on. Beatrice wrote that Harold and his purple crayon need to wrap it up. In another sign I might be blogged out of original perspectives on motherhood I found this video where I covered this when Vivien was TINY, not even 3 I think.
Here’s a cute thing that was one of the first products I featured on my “Mommy Must Have” segment on my TV show, The Fashion Team. Although come to think of it we haven’t done that segment in months, which means the producers must have cut it without telling me…hmm. Typical.
Anyway, I was trolling a star-studded benefit for the March of Dimes last year, eyeing the swag available to the famous and hoping to get ideas for my show. When low and behold I see a very nice, unassuming mom with her t-shirts and matching books. These are not just shirts with a familiar story or song on them, they’re Nursery Rhyme Tease, and each shirt comes with a little book that matches. So I got Vivien “Wheels On The Bus,” and “5 Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed.” She loved them, got so excited when I gave them to her. She likes reading the books, knows the words and wears the shirt like a rocker wears his AC/DC shirt, to show what a fan she is!
As I recall they were about $25 dollars for the set. Order a few and have them in an emergency gift nook for when you realize, “oh, crap, we have a kiddie party today!”
That’s my plug.
So, I always liked Jamie Lee Curtis, if for nothing else, for how honest she is about her body and all that love yourself stuff. And “A Fish Called Wanda” is still one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. She comes in to my husband’s restaurant with her husband, Christopher Guest (NOT looking like one of his hilarious characters) from time to time.
When she first saw Vivien as a very small baby, she rushed over from her lunch saying, “I have to smell that baby.” What a sensualist, what a mom. Loved it. Of course, it’s always heartening when anyone gushes over your baby, but if she’s a big famous lady, all the cooler.
So about two weeks ago, Vivien and I were eating dinner at Campanile and Jamie Lee, her husband, and their attractive young lady daughter came by to say hi. She said she was going to send Vivien the children’s books she had written. I had remembered a book she’d written about being five or something like that; I thought maybe there were two books. I wasn’t counting on getting any books, since in LA, moments like that can often be what my friend, reporter/writer Mary Ellen Geist, calls “room love”: they love you for that moment, but then it’s over.
Yesterday morning Mark called from his office. “There is a big stack of books from Jamie Lee Curtis for Vivien. And a book about alcohol for me.” (He is working on opening a bar and restaurant, so that is also thoughtful.) I was so impressed that she had followed through on her word and that she was such a prolific children’s story writer. That afternoon, Vivien and I came to pick them up and Mark presented them tied up in a big gold ribbon. Another nice touch, Ms. Curtis. There was a little card that said, “As promised,” signed by the actress herself. And she wrote a thoughtful note in each book to Vivien. Well, now I REALLY love her.
All of the books have great illustrations, and not too many words. ‘Cause if you have watched my vlog about children’s books, you know I can be picky about my reads. One book I can hardly read the title of without choking up is Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born. This would be sweet for any child to read, but this book is about an adopted child being told about being born and her parents coming to get her. Just writing about it makes me want to cry. I had read that she and her husband had adopted their children, so this is obviously a heartfelt story, but like all of her books, it has a lot of whimsy.
I read it aloud to Mark and Vivien and he and I both got choked up because of the dearness of parents taking their adopted children into their hearts and souls just as biological parents do, and it made us reflect on the “night” (really, 8 am) when Vivien was born. I am getting this book for my friend who has adopted and one who is on the verge.
When anyone goes out their way with a generous, gracious note, I shouldn’t be but am always taken aback. Like my new neighbors bringing cookies, or the other neighbors who brought a welcome basket. I’m probably just not generous enough myself, so I appreciate it from other people! And being raised in LA, there is an “LA vicious” attitude. Even in San Francisco (where I lived for 9 years), it’s not a warm and cuddly town.
But it does make for a fun story that this gift was from a big fancy, schmancy, movie star.
Remember “The Three Little Bears”? Well, these days Goldilocks would be rejecting noses, not porridge. Check out this new children’s book, My Beautiful Mommy, which explains mom’s plastic surgery to kids.
It reminds me of a story my mom told me years ago. When older sister Carole was little, there was a family on our block, the “Smythes.” Well, Mrs. Smythe was always very made up and had chic little outfits and done-up blonde hair. And she drank cocktails with her husband and friends in their second-floor bar, which was so cool. But she was harsh to her kids and yelled and whacked them. My mom was pretty, but more in a 1970s way. Long straight hair, big sunglasses, tanned with little make up. So, one day after playing with the put upon Smythe kids, Carole said to our mom, “Mean mommies are pretty. You are a nice mommy.”
There’s a compliment in there somewhere.
Remember when you were in elementary school and you got to order your Scholastic books? Well, they are so much more than those sweet little anticipated books in your first-grade hands. They have a big, rad store in SoHo. Who knew?
Next time you are in NYC, forget the tourists traps and go there. The beautiful, modern building is probably courtesy of Harry Potter, since they had a piece of that which has accounted for about 50% of their revenue. But, of great interest to me is their part in Clifford the Big Red Dog. They have a coin-operated Clifford. Which sadly wasn’t working. But it’s a big, beautiful, child-friendly book store.
I had a meeting upstairs while Mark and Viv scampered downstairs. Nice to do something for Vivien before I dragged her to a few stores to shop. But I ended buying more stuff for her, per usual. It was an honor to wear a tag with Clifford on it. But that Chloe, she is such a pushy little dog.
When my daughter Vivien was about a year, she really loved The Chicken Sisters. I had to read it all the time. One day I hid it. It was gone for weeks and I was relieved, but her sitter found it and put it out again. But, like a relationship that has weathered a fight, I fell in love with The Chicken Sisters anew. This is my tale of a grown woman reading rudimentary literature.