by Don Freeman
In print and available here
Yesterday Tommy was playing on the floor with his Imaginext Pirate Cave and narrating a story to himself. I caught snatches of his play, simply adorable and entirely his own brand. Then I heard him say, "Batman climbs up the chinaberry tree."
I love when my kids surprise me with their vocabulary. I remember when Pippi was two and a half she used the word jaunty in proper context. From a book we'd read, of course.
So I asked, "Tommy, how do you know about the chinaberry tree?"
Pippi, always the girl with the answers, said without even a thinking pause, "It's from Mop Top." Which of course prompted an impromptu story time.
Although Mop Top is not my absolute favorite Don Freeman title, not even in the top three, I do love this sweet book. Probably because it reminds me so much of Tommy, who loves to wear his cowboy boots and hates having his hair cut.
a shaggy redhead who lives for playtime and loves to swing from branch to branch in his very own chinaberry tree. (An uncanny memory my girl has.) One day his mother calls him down from his tree and gives him some money and sends him off to see Mister Barberoli, the local barber, so that he will look nice and neat for his birthday party.
Don Freeman had a great ear for words. I just love reading this page aloud.
"Here's some money, sonny," his mother said. "'I've just called Mister Barberoli, and he says he'll be ready for you at four o'clock sharp. It's a little after half-past three now, so let's see you hippity-hop to the barbershop all by yourself."So Moppy pockets the money and beats it to the end of the street and turns the corner before he realizes what his mother has sent him to do. Get a hair cut. He grumbles all the way to the town square where he meets with a frilly woolly puppy outside the candy store.
"What a silly-looking pup you are! said Moppy as he bent down and tried to find the pup's eyes. "You're the one who needs a haircut, not me!"Not long after, Moppy shuffles by Mr. Lawson mowing his lawn, who sports a handkerchief tucked into his back pocket and a tobaccy pipe hanging from his mouth.
"That lawn is what needs a haircut, not me!" said Moppy.Then Moppy clippety-clops by a man lopping branches off a "low, droopy tree."
"You could do with a few snips of these snippers, skipper!"At last Moppy makes it to the barber shop, but in one last ditch attempt to save his mane, he darts into the grocery store next door, where he hides behind a mop and broom display.
See that woman there in the background? Well she's looking for a mop. A nice sturdy one, with which to mop her kitchen floor. And you can imagine what happens next.
Well at least I hope you can, because I'm not telling.
You'll just have to hippity-hop to your favorite local book shop to find out.