Mariam is a big fan of having all the facts. She loves to know as much as possible about any given subject and is generally less than satisfied with the simple answers that many of us adults expect will be adequate when answering childrens' questions. A prime example of this was the following conversation, had while driving through downtown Berkeley one afternoon:
"Mama, how do they build houses?"
"Well, usually they use wood or sometimes bricks or other materials."
"No, Mama. I mean how do they build houses?"
"Do you mean how do they make the foundation and do the framing and the insulation and the drywall and all of that?"
"Yes, Mama. Tell me about all of that."
So, enter Gail Gibbons into our lives. Gail Gibbons is a prolific author and she has written many, many books about a variety of subjects. Most of these books contain more information than the average person might want, but for my girl, who has to know it all, they are perfect. We have read about owls, pandas and polar bears. We have learned about how houses are built, how mail is delivered and how bees make honey. The perennial favorite? The Milk Makers; a book that explains all about how milk is made and marketed in exhaustive detail.
I suppose that there are a lot of books written for children about things like the life cycle of a frog or the happenings at your local fire station. My family, however, is of the opinion that Gail Gibbons does a particularly good job in writing about these things. Her illustrations are wonderful, her prose is clear and she obviously gives a good deal of thought to the perspective of the young child who will interact with her text. Yes, these books might be heavy on the details that seem almost arcane to those of us over thirty, but I think that they are also a good reminder of the ways in which the things that seem like minutia to the average adult might well be fascinating to our little ones who are learning about the world and everything in it for the first time.