January 22nd, 2013

Smiley Faces

The Smartest Baby in the World

I've been judging books by their covers lately. When I take little Grouting to the library and pick out a couple of children's books for her - short ones, lots of pictures - I've been choosing them based on cover art and title. I go for variety, avoiding multiple books by the same author, and not too many involving dragons. (There are lots of young children's books involving dragons these days.)

The books I was returning today were an anemic lot, plot-wise. Loveabye Dragon had lovely illustrations, but was a more-or-less by-the-book romance story, with a dragon swapped in for the knight. Leon and the Place Between had lush and elegant images as an excuse for a faint bit of plot. I only heard Zebra's Hiccups from the next room, while doing dishes, so can't really pass judgement. When judging books by their cover, I shouldn't be surprised if the artwork is often the best part.

I took Grouting back today to try again (and to have left the house at some point today). I picked three on glancing acquaintanceship and took them to the self-service checkout machine. One was an "Object Unknown", to be taken to the desk.

The librarian swiped little Grouting's library card and then tried the book, but again nothing. Inside the front cover, as he found when he opened it, the book was stamped "Withdrawn". "It was misfiled. It should have been on the for-sale rack, but it's only something like 10 pence." And then he gave it to us. I've paid enough late fees over the years to this system that I was entirely happy to accept.

We sat down and read her newest book tonight. Baby Brains: The Smartest Baby in the World is a delightful bit of science fiction, a nicely balanced tale of an impossibly smart baby who's earned his MD by about two weeks of age and ends up in outer space. Not only did I do better in picking library books this time around, but one of them, quite a good one, is unexpectedly for keeps.