Saturday, February 16, 2008

Francis' Papa Makes Coffee or the Winter Picnic

So. We're still mid-winter. Off-and-on colds and viruses ranging around like lions, seeking whom they may devour. Dry air. Not much outdoor time. Oh, we try! We bundle up, we go for walks (oh, foolish mortals that we are!). I try to leave an extra ten minutes going somewhere for Gibbie to play in the snow once he's all bundled up.
I have never longed for spring so devotedly. Once we can play outside for more than twenty minutes at a time, not dancing with the danger of frostbite, nay--in no more than boots and a jacket--oh, will we play long and hard outside!
Anyway, with, optimistically two months of the off-again-on-again romance between Winter and that seductress Spring, how will we survive without eating eachother's heads?
Gibbie calls, "Mama, I'm dressing up as Francis! Do you want to dress up as Francis' mama? sweetly) This book you haven't read. It's called, Francis' Papa Makes Coffee."
What, you haven't heard of Francis' Papa makes Coffee? What about Francis Goes to the Zoo?
I've mentioned our beloved Francis books before. It's hard to remember that Francis isn't an actual member of our family. She's a badger, actually. A fictional one. Our favorite Francis books include: Bread and Jam for Francis, Bedtime for Francis, A Baby Sister for Francis, and A Bargain for Francis. Wait! That's almost all of them. Yup. We sure do love our Francis.

They are invaluable for reading again and again and again. Well written, clever, well-timed little stories. But you won't find Francis' Papa Makes Coffee or Francis Goes to the Zoo at the library, as they're Gibbie's own creation.
Gibbie has begun a sort of literary vamping. He makes up stories based on his favorite books.
Gibbie "dresses up as Francis." This often doesn't include any tangible costume at all. He mentally puts on Francis, and tells us about it. He also informs us if we are required to dress up as anyone. Francis' Papa, say, or any other real or fictional person we know and love. Sometimes he "dresses up" Ezra as Gloria, Francis' little sister. True fans of Francis will appreciate that sometimes Albert, Ida, the ubiquitous Thelma, and even Harold occaisionally show up too.
Francis Goes to the Zoo, the most popular title around our house today, underwent some major plot development today. It goes something like this: Gibbie and Ezra get into the "Adventure Box" (they made up that name--I swear! It is, of course, just a big cardboard box.) They usually also toss in some blankets or cloths and stuffed animals. Then follow endless invitations to Mama and Papa, who morph into Francis at Gibbie's will, (yes, he changes characters faster than Superman) to come and look at the animals. They are enticed to pick up and admire the animals (note that to adult eyes, the animals are Gibbie and Ezra). Apparently, when Francis goes to the zoo, she can pick up whatever real animals she wants. Today, amazingly, she got to handle :
-a real live, "puffed-up ball animal" who stared round and round,
-as well as a fluffy animal that was very very soft,
-a baby polar bear,
-and two quite wild and rousty animals who couldn't agree on who got a certain corner of their exhibit and whether that animal would be lying down or sitting.

That's the game: pretending to look at and touch and hold animals in a zoo (now we all know what Gibbie's dream zoo would look like) or pretending to be a friendly zoo animal just dying to be picked up and petted by a locquacious and rhyming little badger.

I like to do my own motherly version of literary vamping. It is so easy to take any good picture book and pick out some part of it that we can play out or learn more about, often with little or no preparation. This forms the basis of my winter-anti-boredom-toolkit.
These pictures are actually from more than a month ago. In Best Friends for Francis, and actual favorite Russell and Lillian Hoban story, Francis and company go out for the most delightful picnic outing. This has been the seed for countless such outings of our own. Elements from the story that we like to include: a picnic hamper blanket, a wide variety of food, and spontaneously composed songs. We were out for a walk near some small woods on a relatively balmy winter day, and decided to eat our packed lunch, outing style. This really wasn't fancy at all, just a thermos of warm milk, peanut butter sandwiches, oranges, and a blanket; but it was so delightful. Paul was right there with us, but as usual, sigh, is not pictured as he was behind the camera. It also really wasn't uncomfortably cold! We were dressed quite warmly in many layers of wool, warmed by our hike, and had our lovely outing blanket to sit upon. On a winter's day in the twenties, (Farenheit; cold enough to be comfortable but not wet) I highly reccomend it!

So does Ezra!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A Baby Sister for Francis was my favorite as a kid. I think I checked out of the library off the "recommended" shelf and then renewed it every time I went back. That is until the very nice librarian showed me where the rest of the Francis books were kept.