TOT TERRORS: WHY MOSQUITOES BUZZ IN PEOPLE’S EARS
I often get asked about what influences my work as a writer. Inspired by the amazing website Kindertrauma–which is right up my alley–I’m compiling all of my childhood (and some adult) terrors.
One of the things that lead to my becoming a writer was my extraordinary love of reading, and this was instilled in me by my parents, who read to me every night before bed and sometimes during the day (they also taught me to read before I was in kindergarten, so I could disappear into my room at any time and read on my own—which I’m sure they did for their benefit more than mine, actually).
I have a number of favorite childhood books, among them Rabbit and Skunk and Spooks, The Penguin that Hated the Cold, The Monster at the End of this Book, and The Courage of Sarah Noble (this last one was hugely popular in our area because it was about a real event in my hometown). Each left an indelible impression on me, but one that frightened me—but made me understand a few things about death, moving on, and taking responsibility for your actions—was called Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.
The book, written by Verna Aardema and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, is a retelling of a West African legend. It was published in 1975 (I was four) and won a Caldecott Medal. In summary, a mosquito tells a foolish story to an iguana, which starts a chain of events that eventually leaves the land in darkness.
My dad, in particular, was great at reading this story, because it had a lot of sounds in it, and he enjoyed making the sounds so the animals on the page came to life. These vivid readings, however, didn’t necessarily distract from the hypnotic, sometimes scary, imagery.
Here’s a tour of the pages that had a profound effect on me. What children’s book in your life left permanent impressions?
Posted on July 3, 2017, in Tot Terrors and tagged Caldecott winners, Children's books 1970s, children's books about being responsible, Kindertrauma, retellings of African tales, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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