In which I seriously over-think a children’s book

One of the fun things about growing up and having children is getting to introduce them to the beloved books of your own childhood. Every time I visit my parents’ house my mother and I carefully negotiate which books I can take home with me to add to Anselm and Perpetua’s library. Of course, sometimes when you re-read a children’s book as an adult, you start to notice some …. inconsistencies.

Enter Katy No-Pocket, by Emmy Payne (author) and H. A. Rey (illustrator), a charming little story about a mother kangaroo trying to find the best way to carry her son Freddy, since she doesn’t have a pouch like the other mother kangaroos. Here’s Katy, very distraught about her plight:

Katy decides to ask the other animals how they carry their babies. First she asks Mrs. Crocodile, who suggests that Katy carry Freddy on her back. It doesn’t work — Freddy has a difficult time climbing aboard and his arms are too short to hang on while Katy is jumping — so Katy then turns to her friend Mrs. Monkey.

Wait. Mrs. Monkey? We’ve seen kangaroos and crocodiles — aren’t we in Australia? There definitely aren’t any monkeys native to Australia. Hmm. Well, perhaps Mrs. Monkey and her son Jocko escaped from a zoo. We’ll go with that. At any rate, Katy can’t carry Freddy in her arms, and so she and Freddy try to think of how other animals carry their young. Freddy asks about lions and birds:

Okay… lions live in Africa, not Australia. But there are also monkeys and crocodiles in Africa, so maybe it’s Katy and her tribe of kangaroos who are zoo escapees. But what about the birds? Those are clearly robins. Now, they could be the European robin (which does range into north Africa), or Australasian robins … but they certainly look like American robins to me. Curiouser and curiouser.

Well, we move on. Katy and Freddy visit a wise owl who suggests that they go to the city and attempt to find or purchase a pocket there. So off they go, and … wait. Are those pine trees? And deer? What is going on here?

At any rate, Katy gets to the bustling city, where she… hold the phone.

U. S. Post Office. U. S. Post Office???

I give up.