…four or five Hop, Skip, and Jump Cocktails will demonstrate that this edition is no juvenile.
3 1/2 PARTS GIN
1 PART FRENCH DRY VERMOUTH
1 SPRIG OF MINT
-from So Red the Nose
Well, this is another variation on the martini, this time with a mint garnish, which adds a nice decoration, but not really any flavor. Sooooo…go back and read my review of the martini I guess.
Actually that’s not really true. Hop, Skip, and Jump! is a dry martini, while I used sweet vermouth for The Bank Manager. So I guess if you’re a marini-Nazi (they are legion), that makes this my first REAL martini, which I enjoyed. I didn’t gorge myself on it quite as passionately as I did the sweet version, but it was still surprisingly drinkable for such a strong cocktail. And the mint makes it super pretty, so that’s a plus.
There was once
A secret spot
With willows all around,
And a buried
That no one ever found, …
Oh, I’d go back there if I could.
Will you go back
– From Hop, Skip, and Jump!
This book is so damn charming, I could just spit.
The very fact that the So Red the Nose editors thought to include a children’s book-themed cocktail fills me with glee (I’m not going to check, but I would bet good money that there is a pinterest page dedicated to Dr. Seuss cocktails. There’s no way that doesn’t exist.). Dorothy Aldis was an incredibly prolific and successful author in the genre, and 1934’s Hop, Skip, and Jump is just one of her many collections of short poems, this one accompanied by the adorable line drawings of Margaret Freeman.
Actually, as with so many children’s books, the pictures kind of steal the show. They are simple and quaint in a Winne-the-Poohesque fashion:
But there’s no doubt that the enchanting little poems live up to their illustrations. They are written in a child’s voice, which narrates all the small, everyday adventures that occur throughout the span of one year: going to the circus, getting a stuffed dog for Christmas, taking a bath, blowing out her birthday candles. And let me tell you, they apparently had some freaking magical childhoods in the 1930’s. For example, there’s “The Island”:
They mowed the meadow down below
Our house the other day
But left a grassy island where
We can still go and play.
Right in the middle of the field
It rises green and high;
Bees swing on the clover there,
And butterflies blow by.
It seems a very far-off place
With oceans all around:
The only thing to see is sky,
And wind, the only sound
Uuf. Most days, I’m just relieved that being a child is all behind me, but doesn’t that make you want to sit in grass taller than yourself and watch the wind blow through it? And maybe later that day, get something from the ice cream man? Dang that sounds perfect.
But as much as the poems totally idealize childhood, they can sometimes be surprisingly melancholic. Like this one:
The fog horn makes a curious sound,
Long and sad and thin —
Like lonely people waiting round
Wanting to come in.
It even gets a little surreal at times, like when a poem about the beauty of fall leaves suddenly ends with the tree getting up and walking on its roots. That was random.
But, most of all, the nostalgia level on this thing is off the charts, from the sweet little line drawings to the poem about having a conversation with the ice man (I don’t know which is more dated: ice delivered to your doorstep or a little girl who is allowed to talk to strangers.). Seriously, this book has all old-fashioned cuteness of a baby hedgehog wearing a top hat (This is also something I instinctively know the internet has created.).
Forgotten classic or better left in the past?
This one is actually a hard question for me to judge, despite all the gushing above, because the question isn’t really if I like it, but if it’s intended audience would like it. And for the most part I try to avoid children between the ages of three and 13.
On the one hand, kids do like a surprising number of stories from the 1930‘s. In fact, I always thought it was kind of interesting how children’s media seems to age better than any other genre, how kids today are watching the same Disney movies and reading the same picture books that my grandmother did as a child.
In spite of that fact, my gut reaction is that Hop, Skip, and Jump! wouldn’t really fly with the kids today. It has a subtlety to it that I think 21st century children just aren’t used to. By which I mostly mean there are no color pictures. And well, I would of liked it, but I was also the little girl who would grow up to write this blog. And even with me, I don’t think it would have ever held a candle to my beloved Tatterhood or Brambly Hedge.
So — although I’m sure there are some exceptions — I think this book will mostly bring a small smile to the face of adults with an appreciation for juvenile literature, not the juveniles themselves. But if a whimsical mid-century childhood holds any interest for you, I promise it will stuff you full of so much 1930’s whimsy, you’ll be begging for mercy.
Used copies of Hop, Skip, and Jump can be found — if you look super hard — on Amazon.
Next time: It’s an American pirate’s life for me.