Ouch, you naughty lion.
The My Teddy Bear Book.
“Ouch, you naughty lion. You mustn’t bite.”
It’s funny when three people all have the same memory and it turns out to be wrong.
For probably twenty now I’ve been searching for a book. It was one of those things that was published well before I was born and was read to my two sisters and finally to me. I had a vague idea that it was a Golden Book (because, really, what children’s book wasn’t a Golden Book?) I had a vague recollection of what the child in the book looked like. And I remembered one line: “Ouch, you naughty lion. You mustn’t bite.”
I don’t know why this line stuck with me my whole life. But I, for some reason, could always recall the phrase. And I, for some reason, always wanted to find this book again. I’d flip through children’s books at used book stores and search online for the line but could never ever find it.
About a month or so ago I searched online again for the phrase and this time came up with two websites. One was mine because I had mentioned this once before. The other was an answer man website where he helps people find books. Someone else was looking for this exact same phrase. The suggestion he gave was, of course, wrong. The book was too new and too many pages. I could tell just by looking at the cover. A few days later I found out who it was who was searching for the phrase: my sister Jen.
Turns out that all three of us, at one point or another, had been searching for this book. So I made it my mission to find it. Selfishly I think I just wanted to be the hero, the smart one, the one who could finally figure out this mystery.
While searching through titles and pictures of Golden Books, I started thinking that it could be one of these prayer books I kept seeing. The girl on the cover looked awfully familiar. But it couldn’t be a prayer book because a) I was never in any way religious and b) why would a prayer book contain a girl with a stuffed lion in her crib? But it got me thinking that maybe that was the clue, maybe whoever drew those prayers also drew my stuffed lion.
So I found the illustrator’s name, Eloise Wilki, and started looking up her books and started googling her name with descriptive phrases and parts on my line until I found one mention of the line, slightly different then the way I remembered it, with a book title, “My Teddy Bear” by Patsy Scarry.
I immediately went to Amazon and ordered a used copy for myself. (Choosing to order the $15 copy that was torn up a bit over the $40 one in better condition…)
A few days later the old, used, copy of “My Teddy Bear” arrived in the mail and I anxiously paged through the book until I came to the page. And there was my line, only slightly different than I remembered it. And there was that little girl with a little lion in her little crib.
“Ouch! Naughty Lion, you mustn’t bite!”
What caught me the most about it was that all three of us had been placing an extra “you” between “ouch” and “naughty” that apparently never appeared in that book.
Strange. Then again, maybe my mom just always read it wrong.
But now I can at least stop searching.