Sunday, November 14, 2021

I Made Some Flannel Apples and Came To Terms with Dr. Seuss

Remember how I'm obsessed with making baby gifts for my baby niece?

I figured out how to combine that obsession with my OTHER favorite hobby, reading! I've been having a lot of fun figuring out gifts I can make her that pair with my favorite children's books, and figuring out what awesome children's book I can pair with the baby gifts that I want to make.

When I was an early reader, I super loved my super worn copy of Ten Apples Up on Top:

I think my grandparents must have joined a Dr. Seuss Book Club at some point, perhaps for their own kids, because I remember almost all of the publications from the first thirty years of Random House Beginner Books. Like, I PORED over those books, read them over and over and over constantly--I think those, a set of Disney's Wonderful World of Knowledge, and my aunt's old comic book collection were the extent of my personal library for a time, and I loved them.

Dr. Seuss is definitely not unproblematic, sigh, and I highly recommend the book Was the Cat in the Hat Black?, but fortunately Ten Apples Up on Top IS unproblematic, I think. It's just apples and counting!

I don't know why I was so charmed by that book in particular (my other favorites were Go, Dog. Go! and Little Black, A Pony), other than it's funny to watch animals stacking stuff that you know doesn't actually stack easily, I guess? But charmed by it I was, and then forty years later I found myself wanting to give a copy of that book to my baby niece along with a set of semi-stackable apples of her own.

I knew I wanted the apples to be sewn from flannel, but it took ages to get the shape right. This one is orange-shaped, don't you think? 

I made a few more orange-shaped ones, then surprised myself with a pear-shaped one, then thumped myself on the head when I realized that if you turned the pear shape upside-down, it looked exactly like an apple!

Let's make a bunch more, then! 

I also figured out that I could hide the blanket-stitching I used to close the apple--

--by using a long sewing needle and some embroidery floss to pull the top and bottom of each apple together, and that also made those top and bottom divots that real apples have!

They're still not very stackable... but, you know, neither are real apples.

The apples that aren't in my niece's hands are now in my Pumpkin+Bear etsy shop. You can buy multiples--

--or just one, and you get to choose your favorite color between red--


--and green:

The leaf and stem are embroidered felt, stitched VERY firmly into the apple:

They're soft and comfy, squeezy but with a bit of heft, and even if you can't get all ten up on top--

--you'll hopefully have fun trying!

I did feel weird, to be honest, about giving my niece a book written by an author who's also made some  racist depictions. I was exposed to a lot of casual racism in my youth--never directed at me, because I'm white, and rarely directed at any Person of Color around me, even. It was just... there. I know a lot of racist childhood comebacks, and I know a lot of racist colloquial terms for all kinds of things you wouldn't think would have racist connotations. I played an "Indian" in my elementary school's Thanksgiving play. I read Little Black Sambo, and And To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, and Tikki Tikki Tembo. That crap absolutely harmed me, and messed up my worldview for a long time. It's still something that I feel like I have to be careful about, just because it's so embedded in my childhood that I'm never confident that some random thing that I remember doing or saying or knowing as a kid is actually an ethical, appropriate thing. 

But I still want to share the safe parts of my childhood with the kids I love, and I think this book is one of the okay ones? 

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