D is learning to read.
I remember the revelation of learning to read myself—to really read, cover to cover, and understand. It happened on the front steps of my house in Piedmont, Calif., where I lived from ages four to eight. It was a book about a bear of some sort—a firefighter bear, perhaps?—and was in a set of three stories bound together. I have a picture stored in memory—the book in my lap, the sunlight, the dappled shade. My elementary school stood right on the other side of Linda Avenue.
I remember another book I had as a child which had in it the story of three little ponies—a black, a grey, and a chestnut—who go to town and dress up as humans, or perhaps they were humans who dressed as ponies. It was bound in a single volume along with a story about a hippo and I remember I always wanted to read about the creepy ponies in creepy masks and my mom always wanted to read about the happy hippo with the pleasant adventures.
. . . five minutes passing . . .
Another revelation, this one via Google: I've found a description of the book. Apparently someone else has seen the same edition, as this blogger has described the very set I've been trying to remember. I now recall the happy hippo was named Veronica, as referenced in this blog post:
http://www.vintagechildrensbooksmykidloves.com/2009/01/three-little-horses.html. The book was Three Little Horses, by Piet Worm, and I might not be the first adult to note that it has a touch of a fetish vibe. The protagonist hides, dressed as a tree, until he can lure the three little innocents away and doll them up like voluptuous women.
Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe it's a sweet story. Perhaps it should be enjoyed for its simple beauty, by a child, as I once enjoyed it.