You can’t really grow up in America without hearing pirate stories. Even if you aren’t a fan of adventure stories, the trope is everywhere in our culture.
The most famous of these stories is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. This used to be the book young boys would sneak under their covers and read by flashlight, but now it is mandatory reading by schools–which takes away some of the pleasure. Not to mention the language is somewhat old fashioned and confusing to us now.
Still, read or not, the characters in these pages are everywhere–Long John Silver and his parrot are not just fictional mutineers, they are also a fishy fast food mascot. I also knew a few others, like Ben Gunn and Tom Morgan, even though I hadn’t known where they came from. Disney had a theme park “Discovery Island” based on the story, though it is shut down now. And there’s just a bunch of adaptations and other cultural references from Stevenson’s story.
To be honest, I really wasn’t that into the book itself. I really just skimmed it to get the jist. The seafaring dialect was difficult to read unless you really go slow, and I mostly had the story in my head anyway. I mostly just wanted to get through it to check it off my list and get all the cultural reference goodies. I like to connect the dots on this sort of thing to all the moments in my life that have related back to old books like this. And there were several. I’ll probably come across other scenes in other movies now that I’ll go “Ooooooh that’s the thing from the thing!” You know how that works.
Fulfills Boxall #89
Sometimes I wonder if kids today still get the same stories that we grew up on. Remember Velveteen Rabbit? That was always my favorite. Or The Little Engine that Could, Babar the Elephant, The Giving Tree? Are those still around? Do kids even know what Aesop’s Fables are anymore, or is it just that Mama Llama book every day?
That is maybe the only thing I miss about not having kids of my own–sharing my stories. I have nieces and nephews, but it’s not quite the same when you aren’t there to read to them every night.
The Prince and the Pauper is one of those stories I remember hearing at some point. Or maybe it was just seeing the Mickey Mouse version. But I know that story by heart, and as I was reading Mark Twain’s book, I kept wondering if my littles would ever hear this one.
Another thought I had while reading it–I never realized before that this was a legend of Henry VIII’s son. As much as I love his court, I didn’t make the connection. This was apparently Mark Twain’s first attempt at historical fiction, and it’s such a silly little tale, but I quite enjoyed reading the full version. I will say that it is much more…vivid…than the Disney version! Not such a kid’s story, this one.
If you are as in love with Henry’s court as I am, this is worth the read. Mark Twain is so much more than Huck Finn. Who knew?
Long before Smaug, there were fairy tale princesses, locked up in dragon proof towers. There were princes to save them, and then dragons were always mean and scary.
E. Nesbitt’s versions of these tales were fun to read. They were the same prince and princess and dragon motifs, but the stories were not quite so predictable. First and foremost, the princess was not always helpless. Often she was smart, and while she may not beat the dragon all on her own…she does help quite a bit. Also, the dragon is not always completely bad–more of a misunderstood creature. Sure, it has an appetite for whole towns, but it’s a HUGE animal! I can see how that could make it feared among humans, but in one of the stories it just thinks that is normal behavior. But, it is a loving mother, and also extremely gullible.
Overall these were very sweet stories that any elementary aged kid would like. I could imagine reading these as bedtime stories to any little adventurer.
Sometimes, I wonder if the old movies I grew up with are still making their rounds with kids today. I hope so. It is one of the things I do miss out on, not being a parent–getting to read my favorite childhood books and show my old movies over and over.
Shirley Temple was always one of my favorites when I was little. Even though she was way before my time, we watched her constantly in my house. She’s a classic, obviously, but also, she was especially famous in our family because my Nana looked so much like her when she was young. And, of all the Shirley Temple movies we had, the best one to me was, of course, the one about the clever book-addict, Sara.
I may have watched A Little Princess a million and a half times, but this was my very first time reading the book! Until I picked it up at a Goodwill sale recently, I never realized it was written by the same author as The Secret Garden!
The story was just as magical. Of course my Sara will always be Shirley Temple, although in the book she’s described as much skinner than Temple’s chubby little features. I suppose that makes sense, for someone who is starving. On one hand, the book is sadder–there’s no reuniting with the father at the end–although the ending IS happy, and I thought it was a much more likely, and very sweet ending. Maybe not as Hollywood, but I liked it better.
A Little Princess should be read over and over again, especially at bedtime to your young princesses. It’s a story of hope in a world where there isn’t much hope, and it’s a good lesson in humility and encouragement. The morals in this book are as true today as they were when Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote it in the 1800s, and I think it’s not one we hear very often anymore.
This fulfills PopSugar #33: A book from your childhood.
What are your top five favourite picture books?
I don’t remember very many picture books, to be honest, so this took some serious thinking. I remember being read to, and I remember going to the library, but most of the books I remember from my childhood start in the chapter book section: American Girls, Babysitter’s Club, Boxcar Children. I know there were some picture books at some point, but I started reading on my own really early, so I didn’t hang on to most of them for long.
Here are the ones I do remember:
- Barenstain Bears
- Little Bear (I must have had a thing for bears!)
- Babar the Elephant
- I Love You Forever
There’s also some vague ones that I can remember the characters, but I don’t know their titles–something about Mrs. Rude Girl, those multi colored shapes that taught a lesson–someone has to remember what I’m talking about. There was also one about too many cooks in the kitchen, and an old grandmother making soup. It had crudely drawn people with really big noses and scraggly hair. Awesome description, I know.
And then, of course, I was a huge fan of fairy tales and fables–I still am.
It’s probably good I’m not a parent. I’d be reading the poor kid Game of Thrones and Dorian Gray!
I don’t typically keep books on my shelves that I don’t care for. I need the room to add more books! Plus, trading books back to the used book store means credits for me.
But, since The Golden Compass is a husband book…I suppose it’ll have to stay on my shelves.
I am thrilled that fairy tales are making such a reappearance lately. I was raised on the Disney versions, along with constant rereads of Grimm and Aesop’s Fables. So now that I’m an adult, there’s nothing that I love more than to see my favorite characters getting revamped on TV and in what is essentially fanfiction that is popping up all over the place.
Rump by Liesl Shurtliff is the latest of these that I’ve found–a YA version of Rumpelstiltskin. Other than being a character in Once Upon a Time, Rumpelstiltskin isn’t a character who has gotten a lot of viewership over the years. When we hear about him as children, he’s a villain–the creepy hermit who bargained away the queen’s baby for gold.
Shurtliff spins a whole different story. This is very much a fable–and the moral at the end of this is one of self discovery. Rump is a quick read–I got through it in a few hours, but I enjoyed it. The characters are magical, and I wanted very much for Rump to succeed in his quest.
I would say kids as young as 2nd or 3rd grade could easily pick this up. My only warning is that they do use words like “pee” and “butt.” No real cuss words, just things younger children might go “ooooooooo, you shouldn’t say that!” The message is fantastic, though, especially for kids who need a boost of self confidence.
In my Nana’s living room (or there used to be, I’m not sure if they are still there), there are two pictures, side by side. Two black and whites of two little girls. If you didn’t know any different, you would think they were the same curly-haired, chubby cheeked sweetheart. When my Nana was little, she looked EXACTLY like Shirley Temple.
So of course, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Shirley. My favorite movie of hers? A Little Princess. I finally picked up a copy of the book last month, and it sits patiently on my TBR shelf, pretty and pink and just waiting. I know it’s going to be as beloved as The Secret Garden.
What are you currently reading?
Brooklyn by Colm Tobin
Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
Aimless Love by Billy Collins
What did you just finish reading?
Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
What do you think you’ll read next?
Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
She Walks in Beauty by Caroline Kennedy
When I was young, one of my favorite movies was The Secret Garden. I loved the story of the rebellious little girl, sent to live in a big manor house (because even then, I dreamed of living in a big manor house…maybe that’s where it started). She was of course an outcast, left to her own devices. I dreamed of having my own secret garden, a place to play alone, that no one knew about. And then when she finds Colin, sick and sad and angry, and nurses him back to health? *sob*
When I discovered it was a book…even better. And as an adult, the moment I could get my hands on a copy…I bought it. I have a well worn copy, now, that is way overdue for a reread.