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In praise of Hamster Huey

October 1, 2013

Everyone’s life has a litany of sad days, including the death of loved ones, when that childhood friend moves away, and (for fans for certain baseball teams) pretty much every day between April 1 and September 30. For me, one of those days was December 31, 1995–the last day an original Calvin and Hobbes original comic strip ran.

One of the ongoing jokes in Calvin and Hobbes was Calvin’s love of the book Hamster Huey and the Gooie Kablooie. It was his favorite bedtime story, one read every night. As the parents of every young child know, repetition is one of the things kids crave. (Back in the mid-1990s, I knew the majority of the dialog from Mary Poppins for that very reason.)

Every kid has a book he or she got to hear a lot of times. Mine were BOO, Who Used to be Scared of the Dark and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. I don’t specifically remember anyone ever reading me either book, but I can remember the stories. It’s possible my kids will remember Go, Dog! Go! for the same reasons, perhaps even the liberties I took putting the Chris Berman catch phrases in. (Original: Look at that dog go! My addition: He could. Go. All. The. Way!) In fact, one of the proudest moments of my life to that point was when we were shopping one weekend and my very young daughter decided, for no particular reason, to shout “He could. Go. All. The. Way!”)

It’s an obvious point, but one that’s worth making anyway. Reading to your kid (or grandkid) is vitally important, even when it’s been the Worst Day of Work Ever and the dryer broke and storytime is just a break in the ongoing fight you’re having with the idiot you married. Even when the townsfolk might never find Hampster Huey’s head (knowing Calvin, that could become his favorite version of the story). Even when Chris Berman makes a surprise visit to a beloved Dr. Seuss classic.

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