“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” ~C.S. Lewis
The Ernie & Bert Book written by Norman Stiles, illustrated by Joe Mathieu, caused my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder! Yes, everything does begin on Sesame Street.
This story is introduced by the contrasting characters of an angry Bert wearing a pot on his head and an obliviously happy Ernie on the front cover. Any curious (aka “nosey”) little girl would have been automatically hooked. I had to be at least 5 when I was introduced to the chaos that was created by the broken cookie jar; I now know this for sure because the book was published in 1977, and I was born in 1972. The story follows Ernie’s explanation to Bert for why he should wear a pot on his head instead of his beloved cowboy hat. It is a wonderful example of sequence of events. Ernie begins telling Bert how he broke the cookie jar, so he had to find a place for the cookies. Each page turns you closer and closer to the end result, which is portrayed on the front cover of the book.
Many reviewers describe this book as “funny” or “a lesson on everything having its place.” To me, this book was threatening. I can still hear my mom saying “see what happens when you don’t put things where they belong, Shannon? You will end up wearing a pot on your head!” I can remember thinking over and over, “why didn’t he just put the cookies in the stupid pot?!” But, we all know that children don’t always think rationally when they are trying to hide something that they did wrong. Ernie’s irrational decisions created anxiety inside of me, but I was addicted. I couldn’t get enough. The more I read it, the more I tried to find alternate solutions for him so that Bert wouldn’t get mad at him…just like my mom if I put my shoes by the door instead of in the shoe closet. It was a therapeutic book. If I could rewrite the ending of this book, I could rewrite my own ending. Sadly, the book still ends with Bert wearing a pot on his head, and little Shannon grew up to be a sufferer of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.