Thursday, October 8, 2015

Revisiting the Little Squeegy Bug

So many people enjoyed recalling the books that they loved in childhood when I posted the blogs about favorite childhood books, (See "Your Favorite Children's Books, Parts 2-4,"  April 2, 9, & 16, 2015 in the blog archives,) that I thought you might like revisiting  Little Squeegy Bug, Story of the Firefly.  You may recall that the children's book blogs began with one about Sgt. William I. Martin, Jr., the St. John teacher that became a famous children's book author after writing Little Squeegy.  (See "Your Favorite Children's Books," 3/26/2015 in the blog archives.) 

At the time I wrote the blog about Martin, our library was in storage.  I wondered whether our copy was autographed and was eager to get the book out of storage and take a look.  At last we have begun to retrieve our books, and look what I found!  I too have an autographed copy signed with best wishes from Sgt Bill Martin, Jr.  Printed neatly below by my great aunt, Anna Marie Beck, is the following:  "Mr. Martin was one of Aunt Doris' teachers in High School."  Written in faded ink on the first page inside the front cover is "To Clark and Linda [sic] From Auntie."  Anna Marie Beck was the Stafford County Superintendent of Schools for many years in the early 1900s, and she often chose books as gifts.

The picture at right shows the main characters from Martin's book helping the little firefly get some wings--Creepy Caterpillar, who introduced Little Squeegy to some of his friends; Haunchy the Spider, who spun silver threads for the wings; and Yardy the Inchworm and Sissy the Cutworm, who measured and cut the silver thread for Haunchy to weave into wings.  The final gift from Squeegy's friends was a lantern that Haunchy took from the Milky Way and fastened to Squeegy's tail, making him the "Lamplighter of the Skies. 
Albert Einstein said, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales; if you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."  Eleanor Roosevelt wrote:  "I think a child is particularly fortunate if he grows up in a family where his imagination can be fed, where there are a variety of intellectual interests, where someone loves music, or does amateur painting, or is engrossed in literature, reading aloud perhaps, or just exchanging comments about what is being read."  Mrs. Roosevelt had read the Little Squeegy Bug book and recommended it, and I was one of those children fortunate enough to have read it.

Judging from the responses to the blogs about children's books, many of you who follow this blog began reading early in childhood.  Much of this blog relates to reading, books, and libraries, including Isaac B. Werner's amazing book collection.  I am among those who appreciate the advantages access to the internet brings, but I remain convinced that there is still nothing like a book.  The overflowing book shelves in my home make that obvious. 

The experience of a young child cuddling up next to a parent or other special person to hear them read from a book cannot be equaled by pressing a read-aloud button on a toy.  Einstein was right!  Reading to your children is not only pleasurable time together and stimulation for their imaginations, it also reinforces the idea that adults respect books and reading.

As I re-shelve beloved childhood books retrieved from storage, I smile at the memories.  I open the covers to recall receiving a prize for reading the most books in my class certain years or see the signature of Sunday School teachers who gave the class little books and think of friends who gave me books for my birthdays or remember sitting up in bed reading my brother's copy of Gentleman Don.  I doubt that picking up an antique e-reader years from now will give today's children the same feelings.  Enjoy the benefits of the internet and the electronic readers, but please don't stop buying books for children and never stop reading to them.  Mrs. Roosevelt was right about the importance of the examples we set for the next generation, and with a recent survey statistic that 25% of American adults did not read a single book during the past year, it should not be a surprise that children are not developing the habit of reading.
I hope you have enjoyed sharing a bit more of the Little Squeegy Bug, and maybe being reminded of some of your favorite books and their characters.  I hope at least some of you take a moment to leave a comment.  The comments shared in response to the "Favorite Children's Books" blogs were wonderful!  


Unknown said...

I too loved Little Squeegy Bug. Now I have to find my copy and see if it is autographed and from Auntie. I can't imagine not reading. I sometimes have multiple books going as well as magazines such as "Smithsonian"
all at the same time. We are indeed lucky that our parents read to us and took us to the library and gave us books.

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

L.S. in Kansas shared the practice of her daughter-in-law of giving books for birthdays and to welcome a new baby, and M.H. shared his enjoyment of revisiting the Little Squeegy Bug and remembering childhood books, as well as enjoying the post about Pike's Expedition. Thanks for the e-mails and your continued support!

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

Anne, I'll bet Auntie got one for you too. Ours was personalized for both Clark and me, so it wasn't just for a birthday gift... Yes, we were lucky. I loved the trips to the St. John Library over the fire house and to the Pratt Library under the courthouse. I'm not sure whether the well-lighted, level-floored, efficient libraries are really better than the quirky libraries I remember...!

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

R. R. commented: "When my dad died I was going through his house and found a box of our kid's finding old friends."