I'm as exhausted with the kid status reports as you are, so, mirabile dictu, I'm going to write a real entry. (OK, I can't dispense with the kid-news entirely, so I'll give it to you telegraph style. No Good As Golds stop. No UTI stop. First-grade homework debuts stop. Meat loaf stop. What hath God wrought stop. End message.)
Cady Gray has been picking up Pat The Bunny every time she takes a ride in the car (where the book has ended up in the backseat) and reading it out loud to all and sundry. She instructs Archer to pat the bunny, smell the flowers, put his finger in Mummy's ring, et cetera.
But every time she gets to the page where Judy reads her book, and then you (the reader) get to read Judy's book, I'm delighted anew. If there's a better children's book moment than the revelation of that little four-page book, with little hand-puppet-like illustrations, pasted right onto the page of your book, I'd like to know what it is. It appears like a postmodern miracle, boldly labeled JUDY'S BOOK, pitched precisely one reading level lower than itself -- baby talk rather than toddler talk. And while Pat The Bunny is about Paul and Judy and their little accomplishments, JUDY'S BOOK is about Bunny himself, the bunny that appears on the first page of that book you're in the middle of reading, suddenly not a furry animal to be petted but an anthropomorphic creature who eats his good supper and gets tucked into bed.
Maybe it's my own childhood desire to fall into a book that kept opening more and more books within, so that I would never have to climb out. I remember the heart-in-my-throat thrill of reading the Arabian Nights and realizing for the first time that the stories would just keep getting nested, one inside the other, and I wished that none ever had to end. I'm still in love with books about books, and books inside of books -- my most recent A.V. Club review was about a novel of this kind -- because they perpetuate that illusion, for me the most magical and hopeful of all human thoughts, that there is no end to the story, that every page will lead to another.