The Jolly Pocket Postman
A few years ago I came to the conclusion that The Jolly Pocket Postman is the perfect children’s book. What a delightful read. The text is lyrical, the imagery is thoroughly traditional, and the story is steeped in the best of Anglo-American culture. If the humor, idiom, metaphor, and literary allusion contained in this book come naturally to you, then you are a culturally grounded individual and were not cheated of an education. If these do not come naturally to you, then, well, you have a lot of catching up to do. I put myself in the latter category, but never tire of reading this book to my kids. They never tire of it either.
The postman is something of an American icon. At least he was before “going postal” became part of the national vocabulary. In the old days a postman made a good family wage. He knew everyone in the neighborhood. He knew the names of their children and their pets and the relatives who sent them letters. He knew everyone’s business, in fact, but was good at keeping it to himself. He was part of the glue that held communities together, at a time when someone was always at home during the day, and not only home, but likely to be outside in the garden or chatting with a neighbor rather than indoors watching television. His job was tedious and a bit lonely, but not overly technical – the perfect job for someone like me. The tediousness was compensated for by frequent, though brief, social interaction with the people on his route.
Ah, the glory days of the postman! If we can’t bring them back, we can still celebrate their memory by reading the best modern children’s book around.