I used to have this book when I was a child. I have fond memories of my sister and I sitting quietly on our Dad’s lap as he read it aloud to us – probably the only moments of solace for him as we spent most of our time screaming through the neighbourhood. The three of us can all recite it perfectly from memory today, even know it has been missing for years.
I went to the animal fair,
The birds and the beasts were there,
The big baboon by the light of the moon
Was combing his auburn hair…
Remember that one? I still can’t come to terms with the fact that it is essentially the story of the death of a monkey, and possibly a pre-mature warning on the dangers of alcohol. But this book was amazing. I was obsessed with the illustrations. I can still picture them in my head; they were so intricate and pastel and comforting.
I found the book once, after I wrote it off as long gone many years earlier. I hid it under a pillow in a drawer for safe keeping, knowing I was the only organized person in my family and if I left it out in the open it would be lost again forever! Perhaps not surprisingly, given the common occurrence of theft-by-sibling in my house, one day the book disappeared from the hiding spot… never to be seen again.
Given the magic and majesty of the internet, it dawned on me recently that I could probably find it online. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this sooner! I scoured our UsedCanada.com sites and even looked for it new – but I couldn’t find it. Every time I go into a thrift store, used bookstore, or new bookstore, for that matter, I look for it. I just can’t seem to find it anywhere.
The poem is called “The Animal Fair”, but I don’t know what the book itself was called or who did the illustrations. All of the current publications of it are all wrong – they have made it more politically correct, completely omitting the fact that the monkey was a raging alcoholic and this was his ultimate undoing.
It’s funny how some things from your childhood just stand out – the book probably means more to me now than it did then. Do you have any long-lost things from your childhood that you wish you still had?
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