19 January 2006
The series of picture books about Carl the Dog are fun yet vaguely unsettling at the same time. What kind of crazy parent would leave their baby in the care of a dog?? But the dog obviously takes good care of that baby, and Carl has such an endearing personality, and the pictures are so lush, so we keep reading the books despite that teeny tiny doubt about the deeper message. Plus he’s a rottweiler, so he can fend off any bad guys that might wander into the story!
What was even harder for me was ‘reading’ these books, since the baby was unnamed. (I put ‘reading’ in quotes because the earliest ones don’t even have words, so you have to make up the narration on the spot. As a result, it’s hard to watch someone else read the books – they do it wrong! Similar problem with Good Night Gorilla…)
So I gave her a name. She looked like a baby we knew, so I called her Emily. I’m not sure Emily’s parents agreed with the resemblance, but it worked for me.
So imagine my shock today when I started flipping through Carl’s Sleepy Afternoon and discovered she has a name – and it’s NOT Emily! It’s Madeleine! I’m not sure how to move forward with this new piece of information. Do I change the way I read Carl’s Afternoon in the Park? Will the T-boy even let me at this point??
Maybe Emily grew up and has a younger sister, this Madeleine girl. But there’s another thing, the mother looks different too – and I don’t think it’s just a new haircut… Maybe I can pretend – in the name of avoiding cognitive dissonance – that Carl moved in with a new family, into Madelaine’s family! I’m sure Emily will miss him, but she’s probably old enough at this point to be willing to share.