. . . if some July you should chance to
A viridian Central Park dale,
Look around for a squirrel
with a gleam in his eye
And some paint on the tip of his tail.
John Lithgow may be most familiar to adults as a comedian and television and movie actor, but as far as I’m concerned, his greatest talent lies in his amazing stories for children, Micawber being an excellent example. Micawber is the story of an artistically inclined squirrel who lives in the Central Park Carousel, and his journey from admiring fine art to becoming an artist in his own right. While the story itself is imaginative and entertaining, what makes it truly special—like all of Lithgow’s books—is the author’s fantastic use of rhythm and language.
One of the things I love most about Lithgow is that he’s not afraid to use big, challenging words, not just for the sake of intellectualism, but because he seems to recognize the beauty of words themselves, and the fact that the right word, well-placed (in this case, those words include such gems as “peregrination,” “abode,” “beguiler,” and “vermilion”), can transform a simple story into something extra-special. A beautifully-paced rhyming rhythm makes Micawber a great book for reading aloud.