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For Christmas I got a gift certificate to a local bookshop, which I decided to spend on books (and her new obsession, sticker books) for Mycelia. She and I spent a good afternoon browsing through the selection and reading in the cozy little book cave, complete with glowing fish tank. I wanted to be really thorough in looking through the books and choose ones that we would love forever.
But all that thoroughness flew out the window the second I laid eyes on Amos & Boris. I loved it at first sight, for three reasons. One, the names (especially Amos, I don't know why but I love that name). Two, the fact that it is about one of my favorite animals, the whale (I am especially fond of blue whales and I think I could make a strong argument that Boris belongs to the species balaenoptera musculus). And three, the obvious 70s styling of the drawings and book design.
And when we cozied up next to the brightly hued fishies in the darkly lit cave to read through it, I realized that the 4th reason I love this book is the best of all. It is a beautiful, touching story told in expansive, almost cosmic, wording. I often choose children's books that are just a tad above my daughter's reading level, just to add that extra challenge and stretch her mind and vocabulary a bit. And it has worked, the girl has a killer vocabulary and understanding of subjects I didn't even know about until I was years older than her. This book is actually way beyond her official comprehension level, but she loves it and certainly understands what's happening.
It all starts when Amos decides to build a boat and sail across the ocean. All goes swimmingly until... (let me just interject here that the following is my absolute favorite passage from any children's book, maybe any book ever)
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One night, in a phosphorescent sea, he marveled at the sight of some whales spouting luminous water; and later, lying on the deck of his boat gazing at the immense, starry sky, the tiny mouse Amos, a little speck of a living thing in the vast living universe, felt thoroughly akin to it all. Overwhelmed by the beauty and mystery of everything, he rolled over and over and right off the deck of his boat into the sea.
(The second time I read the book to Mycie, at home with Graham nearby, I couldn't help but turn to him after this page and say, "That mouse is straight trippin'".)
Luckily for Amos, Boris the whale comes to his rescue. Here's my second favorite passage of all time:
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Swimming along, sometimes at great speed, sometimes slowly and leisurely, something resting and exchanging ideas, sometimes stopping to sleep, it took them a week to reach Amos's home shore. During that time, they developed a deep admiration for one another. Boris admired the delicacy, the quivering daintiness, the light touch, the small voice, and the gemlike radiance of the mouse. Amos admired the bulk, the grandeur, the power, the purpose, the rich voice, and the abounding friendliness of the whale.
And I'm also stoked that my other favorite animal, the elephant, makes an appearance at the lovely ending to this heart filled, friendship affirming book:
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