Strange Bedfellows and Other Critters - A Great Gift Idea

by Kate on November 28, 2020

The second my younger daughter saw this book, Strange Bedfellows and other critters, she started running through the house saying “cock-a-doodle doo!” which, for a 2-year-old comes out something like “cock doo doo.” Until I saw the rooster on the cover, I thought, “oh boy, what’s going on now?” Like when your baby yells “fu*k” at the dinner table and you look all flabbergasted at her until you realize she’s just asking, very loudly, for a fork.

The book, by my step-dad Campbell Hutchinson (aka Hutch), is a compilation of his paintings and limericks about the bond that forms between differing species in the animal kingdom. These pairings work together, transcending their differences to unite against a common enemy. Much like grandparents and grandkids.

I think Hutchy, as Hutch is known in our household, wrote the book because of all of his grandkids and their cumulative unquenchable thirst for stories. And yes, my kids are his grandkids. Well I’m lying a little. Yes, Hutch is their granddad but we don’t really just call him Hutchy. To be honest we call him MinnieHutchy because he’s is married to my mom and when my babies started talking ‘Grandma’ was definitely NOT an option.

Maybe you can relate? Minnie became Grandma’s name since she has been affectionately known as Missy her whole life and my older daughter just couldn’t quite make the ‘s’ sound. How sweet are those little happenstances! Now the grandparents are BOTH known as MinnieHutchy. As in ‘hi MinnieHutchy and MinnieHutchy.’ It is actually fitting since those two are joined at the hip. At the hip. But I digress. Just wanted to be upfront about the family ties! And I’m sure MinnieHutchy two times is thrilled that I added this part. Thrilled.

Back to the book. It’s just plain fun to read! The paintings are sturdy but whimsical - abstract enough for the reader to project personality onto but you know when you’re looking at an elephant or a zebra, even if it’s from the rear. My favorite one is the cows kissing for the rhyme “A Swiss Kiss” (I think of it as a MinnieHutchy self portrait). The way the Swiss bovine leans into the smooch is so endearing.

The favored limerick by far is the one about Basil, the ‘Fraidy Cat. As cats are wont to do, this cat just sits and watches with disdain, even in the presence of a mouse:

“Catch that mouse,” I implored
advice which Basil ignored.
there she sat
on her kitty mat
looking for all the world bored.

My kitty-obsessed older daughter wants to hear this over and over. And over.

And that’s actually OK because it’s fun to read. While the limericks are easy in form to read, Hutch uses words that will tickle an adult’s fancy like “fume”, “transcend” and “contrarian” (to rhyme with vegetarian). You don’t often find those in children’s books! And, they are actually educational in the sense that you can glean the animal’s traits and environs from the rhymes.

For older kids, the limericks are long and interesting. For the younger set, the pictures keep the attention. I will say that my 4-year-old will sit for a long long time listening while the 2-year-old listens for a bit then busies herself with crayons, shoes or water glasses - you know, whatever is nearby. Sometimes, when I’m reading to just the wee one, I’ll chose one limerick and stretch it out, repeating it slowly and really getting animated with my voice. It makes her happy. Which makes me happy. I’m sure the girls will enjoy these books even more when they are just a bit older.

All in all Hutch has published four books so far. He started with Wild Things. Funny, he published that just as each of us siblings had our first child. I wonder if that was a coincidence, that title? Hmm. Then there is Strange Bedfellows, Animal Treks and another one called Great Woolly Beasts and some feathery aminals (no that’s not a typo, just another malapropism from the family). Here’s how to find them on Hutch’s books start at around $30 for softcover and go up to around $45 for hardcover.

Oh, and guess what! The original paintings that the book pages are based on are available, too. If you like the one of a kind paintings, you can visit his website to see what he has available. He also has archival prints of some of the critters as they appear in the series of his books. You fan find those, too, on his site.

I’m really excited that he’s chosen to make these books and artworks available to a wider audience than his ever-growing family. I thought we were just the lucky ones, but now you can delight in them too! Maybe you can help me spread the word?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Pinchus Rose November 28, 2020 at 12:15 am

In the course that I’m taking, we discuss which books to read to our kids, and how to read it. Books are so important! This one seems to incorporate everything. It streches the mind, opens the world of beauty and art, gives information and a taste for culture. I like.

Penny W. November 28, 2020 at 8:49 am

“These pairings work together, transcending their differences to unite against a common enemy. Much like grandparents and grandkids.”

Bhahaha! That’s so true!

Adventures In Babywearing November 28, 2020 at 8:03 pm

Oh, I love the artwork! That’s a big sell for me! :)


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