Norman the Doorman and Other Stories
There are videos you can let your child watch without worrying that his imagination will be sucked out. They can be a parent’s friend, reading to your child while you rest. Norman the Doorman and Other Stories is one of these tapes. It’s worth having just for its animated production of William Steig’s Brave Irene, a compellingly beautiful story about a girl who, against snowy and windy odds, delivers a gown her sick mother has made for a duchess. Irene captures the tenacity and generosity of which the human spirit is capable. The subtle brilliance of Steig’s pictures is largely lost on video, but the story’s inspiring ideas are not.
In the title story, by Don Freeman, Norman the doorman, a mouse who guards the rodent entrance to an art museum, loves art so much that he enters his own sculpture in a contest and wins first prize. (It’s not as improbable as it sounds; the sculpture has a mouse-like Calder charm.) For his prize, Norman gets to tour the museum without worrying about being caught by the guards. (Passion for art leads mouse to happiness.) And in Robert McCloskey’s Lentil (with still photos from the book) a boy saves the day by playing his harmonica in a village celebration after a local meany takes the wind out of the band that was supposed to perform. (Passion for music leads ordinary boy to happiness.) A