THE KNEE-BABY by Mary Jarrell


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Alan is ""a knee-baby who sometimes wanted to be a lap-baby"" and often feels forgotten because new Baby Bee has usurped his old position. Here he tries to distract Mama from the baby by asking her questions about Mam-mommy down South: ""'Mama? Mama! Tell me, what is Mam-mommy doing?' 'O-o-o-oh, she's getting out of the little bed, maybe?' 'Because?' Alan said. 'Because she wants to do her knee bends; maybe?' 'And then?' Alan said. Then she's putting on her little stars, maybe?' 'And pretty soon?' Alan said. 'Pretty soon. . . . Well, pretty soon she's putting her smell-sweet behind the little ears.'"" This goes on until, after naps, Alan tickles his mother by speculating that Mare-mommy is now ""writing the little boy a letter, maybe,"" and at last charms himself into the coveted lap on a bentwood rocker, where he and Mama keep on rocking and hugging ""on and on, and on and ON. And on and on And ON!"" Jarrell further tenderizes the already cuddly phrases by putting in capitals (Alan's tears are ""bad signs"" that ""mean Pretty Soon The Tears Will Come"") and hyphens (besides rocking and hugging they ""kept on being-each-other's"") which of course is right in keeping with the pastel-glowing holiness of Shimin's family.

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1973
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux