Friday, April 04, 2008

Ant and Bee

About 30 years ago when I was in kindergarten, my mom, dad, two sisters and I travelled to the U.K. to spend several weeks with my mother's family in Wales and England. I don't remember many details from the trip, other than random flashes of memories that stick in your mind when you're a kid ... things like having to eat sandwiches with butter instead of mayonaise spread on the bread, the beaches having pebbles instead of sand, and my parents escaping to London for a weekend and leaving us with an aunt and uncle and cousins whom I barely knew (good for them, by the way!), etc. -- real import stuff.

One lasting and tangible memory that I was able to bring back with me from Britain comes from a series of books that my sister and I adored -- Ant and Bee, by Angela Banner. There's nothing really special about these books. In fact, they're pretty simple. I think what I loved about them was actual the size of the books (about 3 inches high and 5 inches across -- perfect for little hands), as well as the simplicity of the only two characters, Ant and Bee. The subject matter was alway simple as well: colors, shapes, letters, etc. But the repetitive wording and language was written in a way that captivates young children. And the illustrations add to the overall effect. They're precious books.
Fast forward to 2008. A few weeks ago, my sister B was home for the birth of our nephew. We were all hanging out at my mom's house one afternoon when B decided to read a book to my son, ARF. She carried him over to Grandma's book shelf and let him choose a book himself. We sort of thought it was cute when he picked an Ant and Bee book. They've been collecting dust around the house for years, but we've never really paid much attention to them as adults ... until that day.

B read Ant and Bee and the Rainbow to ARF, and he was totally enthralled with it. He sat attentively while she read all 90 pages (!!) again and again. For the next few days, he couldn't get enough of Ant and Bee. Unfortunately, his favorite one about the rainbow, due to age and much love, is beginning to fall apart. The binding is separating from the spine, the pages are worn, and it's just in poor shape overall. I thought it might be time to get online and order a few new versions of Ant and Bee -- completely confident that Amazon.com would have them.

I began my internet search and was shocked at what I found. Our dear, precious Ant and Bee books are now considered collector's items. They're extremely hard to find, not to mention extremely valuable! We had a good laugh at the fact that the original price of the books was £2.50 (written in pencil inside a few of them), and the going rate now is $95.00 and up ... per book!

We've got the entire set, some in perfect condition and hardly touched. So we're probably sitting on over $1,000 worth of Ant and Bee books, if we chose to actually make a profit off of them. But here's the thing ... they're PRICELESS to us, not for their financial value, but for the memories and love we have of them, and now ARF has of them.

Each night I'm at my mom's, ARF requests "Rainbow," and sits through the entire reading of the book. Then he takes it and "reads" it back to me. It's become our routine. I sort of cringe as the pages get more and more worn, and the binding separates a little more. But as I watch my increasingly independent 2-year-old "read" the book in his tiny little voice, pointing out colors and saying, "Uh-oh!" when Ant and Bee spill the paint, my heart melts. I could never sell them. I would love to find a way to mend Ant and Bee and the Rainbow though. It's lived a good life and deserves some TLC. Not to mention the fact that it has many more good years to come.
And of course if anyone out there knows where I can get a reasonably priced copy of Ant and Bee and the Rainbow, please point me in the right direction.

1 comment:

Library Girl said...

No need to get a new copy. I'll fix it for ya. Loved our afternoon/evening together! We must do it more often!