A few years ago, friends from New Zealand introduced us to a wonderful little pup, Schnitzel Von Krumm and his very low tum. Terzo was the intended audience for these books, but never took to them as much as I did, so they spent most of their time on the bookshelf biding their time until someone would come along and appreciate them. Fast forward about 5 years, and they have found a fan... two actually.
Quarto and The Man (the three year old who becomes part of the family during the weekdays) LOVE Schnitzel Von Krumm... and yes, you must say his entire given name whenever reffering to him. It's just the way it is. Every day, we have a story time just before the kids go to quiet time, and every day for the last couple of weeks, Schnitzel Von Krumm has been enthusiastically brought as the day's selection.
Schnitzel Von Krumm is a dachshund with a very low tum who is quiet and lovable and doesn't ask much but to be surrounded by life's comforts - his family and his favorite beat-up, smelly, threadbare but comfy dog bed. His name and droopy little ears will immediately win your heart. If you are a little more difficult to woo, Lynley Dodd's playful artwork and engaging rhymes will have you hooked before you finish the first story.
Today, Quarto brought as his reading selection Schnitzel Von Krumm Forget-Me-Not.
However, the recent favorite of both Quarto and The Man has been Schnitzel Von Krumm's Basketwork.
I love reading this one aloud to the boys. A typical reading finds me reading along in the story,
He liked all the tatters,
he liked every tear,
the broken down edges,
the holes and the hair.
The smell was so friendly
and as for the fit-
if he needed to squeeze,
did he mind?
All this time the boys' anticipation has been growing. They've been squiggling and squirming and repressing giggles. They are so happy as I finish the line and then they burst out with,
"Not a bit!"
This joyous refrain is repeated numerous times throughout the reading, and each time the boys greet it with the same anticipation and glee.
There are many childrens books that I enjoy, but after the 20th reading in half-as-many days, I want to rip out my vocal chords after most of them. Not so with Schnitzel Von Krumm. I could read them over and over again... and I do. With a very happy and not-at-all hesitant audience.
Generally, you can tell which books in our library are well-loved because they are wrinkled and torn and dog-eared and probably have many, many patches of packing tape. The Schnitzel Von Krumm books do not have that "well-loved" look however... they have a "cherished" look. You can tell they aren't new - barely. They have been read over and over, but they are treasured. They are put away with care not to wrinkle them. They are closed when not being read or looked through and set in a safe place so as not to be accidentally trodden on. They are not used as magic carpets for action figures or barricades for army men. To the boys, they are Schnitzel Von Krumm, and they are treated like any well-loved canine best friend should be.
There are three books in the Schnitzel Von Krumm series, but our little dachshund friend did not make his debut in these books. He is actually one of three canine friends of the apparently popular series of books starring Hairy Maclary From Donaldson's Dairy (the books are very popular in Dodd's native New Zealand as well as in Australia and Great Britain, but in America, their fan base, although just as dedicated, is still very small). The Hairy Maclary series, also by Lynley Dodd, follows the antics of a hairy, rather shaggy little black dog who looks mysteriously like our own, aging Gideon. I have a feeling we will be adding the Hairy Maclary books to our library in the very near future. I know I can't wait to read them, and I will enjoy many more afternoon story times on the sofa with Quarto and The Man... I am sure I will enjoy reading these again and again as I have the Schnitzel Von Krumm books - no matter who else in enjoying them with me.