Gift hunting during the Christmas season, I wandered into a baby store, in search of a toy or two. And no, the recipients were not necessarily under 2 or 20 years of age. At Christmastime, one has to be creative. For the legitimately-aged baby, I found Sophie, France’s best-selling giraffe teether-toy.
Then, I found Amos and Boris (1971), a children’s book by award-winning American author, William Steig.
It’s about the journey a mouse called Amos finds himself on when he is capsized at sea, and his friendship with Boris, a passing whale.
This quote caught my eye:
…they developed a deep admiration for one another. Boris admired the delicacy, the quivering daintiness, the light touch, the small voice, the gemlike radiance of the mouse. Amos admired the bulk, the grandeur, the power, the purpose, the rich voice, and the abounding friendliness of the whale.
They became the closest possible friends. They told each other about their lives, their ambitions. They shared their deepest secrets with each other. The whale was very curious about life on land and was sorry he could never experience it. Amos was fascinated by the whale’s accounts of what went on deep under the sea.
Such truths abound in well-written children’s literature. Especially those written by William Steig, who also wrote Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, which is about gratefulness and not taking what you already have for granted.
Respect and deep admiration are some of the less-touted traits of friendship, but they are there all the same, like the stitches you mostly don’t notice down the centre of a hardcover book. Unless like me, you’re interested in graphic design and printing and like looking at how well made things are so well made.
Better than glue, the stitching adds strength and elegance to something already full of bulk and permanence. Whatsmore, a book with stitching is synonymous with quality printing and binding.
Admiration, the kind that is mutual, mostly unacknowledged, barely noticeable in the interaction of, can sound the depths of a friendship quite accurately. Lately, that’s what I’ve been thinking.
Do you think admiration is a neccessary component of good friendships? Love to hear your thoughts on this!
- Laugh Lines | Revisiting William Steig (tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Amos & Boris, by William Steig (us.macmillan.com/amosboris/WilliamSteig)