Like any mum, I wanted to introduce my anklebiters to the written word. Never mind reading eats up only ten short but oh so cherished minutes (20, if we do it “again”). When at the library and bookshops, I was a bit dismayed to see the paucity of books covering the idea of the urban. It’s not actually a surprise when you look at best/cherished book lists (here or here). They are out there, I know, amidst the hatted cats and the moonlit rooms. I found this list and thought, now we are on to something. But I thought I’d do a public service on this blog and showcase children’s books that introduce the urban to the lil folk. So without further ado, I’ll start with the first book we bought: The Minister for Traffic Lights by Tony Wilson and Andrew McLean. Honestly, we bought it for Ian (to read to the bubs). It begins “My father is the Minister for Traffic Lights…” How can you not have dad read the book.
With the parking lot that is Punt Road serving as muse, it is a very ‘Stralian book. Told from the son’s point of view, this story shares one father’s enthusiasm with traffic lights. He breathes and sings red, amber and green. For example, at the local traffic school (a place where children learn the rules of the road on their bicycles), the son cringes at the sight of his father trying to get the bicyclists to sing about traffic lights. However, the son’s admiration for his father come to light (absolutely a pun) when the Minister dreams up a whimsical solution for “the thousands of people around the city who are leaning out of car windows and screaming.” The book focuses on negative aspects of the urban (unrelenting traffic and subsequent road rage) and suggests a traffic calming solution David Engwicht would be proud of “every hour on the hour.” I won’t completely spoil it for you but the solution does involve hugging. While I would have adored a book called “The Minister for Active Transport” (because really, we need to plan for people, not cars), it is a sweet ode to fatherhood, dreams and hugs.
(Above photo by Vivian Romero)