Before there was Reading Rainbow or Mister Rogers, there was Captain Kangaroo. An early morning children's television show, which began in 1955. The show crept into my life in 1968 or '69. It was a regular part of my childhood morning ritual. One day while watching it, I met a book that would remain with me for life, The Story About Ping. Written by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Weise, the tale of duck on the Yangtze river melded itself to my heart.
As I was now old enough to go to the public library with mom, I couldn't wait to borrow a copy of the book. To be able to turn the pages myself and stare at the fantastic colorful illustrations. The event was pivotal in my life. I felt very grown up.
I still remember the children's level of the library was below ground. You could see into it from sidewalk outside, by looking through the rectangular street level windows in the top of the basement wall. A room floor to ceiling with books was a magical vision for a four-year-old.
If memory serves, Mom read Ping to my brother and I every day for the two weeks we had it. Obviously, we needed to own a copy. On my birthday, I received my own permanent version of Ping. That book remains in my family today. Over the decades, each of my siblings and their children, as well as my own children have floated down the Yangtze River with Ping and his duck family.
The Story of Ping was written by Marjorie Flack of Long Island, New York. Published in 1933 it was a quiet book along with many of her other children's books such as her Angus series. In 1955, Captain Kangaroo which had become a television staple featured the Captain or Mr. Greenjeans, reading a book aloud to the television audience. You felt like you were tucked into your grandma's lap and escaping life. The books varied from day to day. Each was interesting however, according to Wikipedia, "Ping was read once a week on the show for seventeen years, while displaying its colorful illustrations in stark black and white on the screen."
My love affair with the mischievous duck has never waned. I don't recall reading any of Marjorie Flack's other books. Of if I did, they didn't crawl into my soul like Ping did. Someday when I meet Marjorie Flack and Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo, I will deeply thank them for introducing me to the love of a good book.
Interested in hearing The Story About Ping. Click the link, give yourself ten minutes and enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNKBTOM4Whg
Also if you have a few more minutes, enjoy other books with Captain Kangaroo.