The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Antidotes for the monotony of reading to toddlers

November 24, 2005

My 18-month old daughter is in a binge-reading phase. She hunts for a book, carries it over to any adult who happens to be in the vicinity, and presents it while exclaiming “Enh! Ehn! Booshk! Enh! Enh!” Sometimes she will jab one finger while insisting “Sit! Sit! Sit!” In either case, her appetite for being read to is boundless. Which means my wife and I read the same books. Over and over and over and over. Between the three of us, we make a lot of animal sounds over the course of the day.

All of this goes along way towards explaining why Terry Pratchett’s Where’s My Cow? is the funniest thing I’ve read in quite some time. There’s a sort of pathos in admitting this, of course, but protagonist Sam Vimes’ frustration with reading about “moo-cows” and “baa-lambs” hits far too close to home these days.

UPDATE: maybe this will make more sense to our non-parent readers if I explain that my daughter’s new favorite read is a 1970s book called “Where’s the fish?” The prose varies between, I kid you not, “where’s the fish?” and “there’s the fish.” For pages and pages. The finale is a bit of a twist, though: the book ends with “home at last.”

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.