Monday, September 21, 2009

Maybelle the Cable Car

A few days before we went to San Francisco for a wedding last July, I got the brilliant idea to read Maybelle the Cable Car by Virginia Lee Burton to the Lambs. We tried a few bookstores before we left for the trip with no luck. It was too late to order it online. When we got there I tried the Barnes and Noble there. I couldn't believe they didn't carry it when it was a book about their city. There was a mother with her boy playing with the Thomas the train set in the store. She overheard me talking about the book with my MIL. I was shocked that she had never heard of ANY of the Virginia Lee Burton books. So I went over and pulled Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel off the shelf and recommended it to her. She spent a long time pre-reading Mike Mulligan before reading it to her son. Then she said, "I had to read it first, you can never be too careful about those old books." After we left, I asked my MIL if she knew what the mother meant. I'm the exact opposite, I'm more concerned about the new books instead of the classics.
Well, after we got home, we ordered the book from Amazon and I finally read it to the Lambs last night. I finally understood that mother's statement. I also understood why Barnes and Noble didn't carry the book. You see, almost every page talks about the gay city, the friendly city, of San Francisco.
I still read it to the Lambs as there is a lot of history in it about the cable car, and they recognized the illustrations of landmarks in San Francisco after seeing them. It is also a good example of democracy, even if it is explained in simple terms for children.
The lines were too long so we actually ended up not riding the cable car when we visited. But we did stop for a photo and they saw the cable cars. Maybelle the Cable Car was a little long for Lamb 2 in one sitting last night, but we will read this book again.


Rebekah said...

I wonder if that other mom was worried about purported racism and sexism in older books. For example, Little Black Sambo and the Bobbsey Twins are often criticized for being racist.

Ewe said...

Rebekah- When I was in the store, that is what I thought of too. I know that I wouldn't recommend Little Black Sambo type of book when I'm in Barnes and Noble, but the mother there didn't know that. I know that Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel is a fine book, but she didn't.