RSS

Tag Archives: children’s-literature

IMHO- Children’s Books I Liked/Disliked Growing Up

Children’s books are still a reading option for one and all well into adulthood.  One does not outgrow a classic story worth its salt even if the wording is simplified for little ears.  Sometimes, that is the best way for a story to reach the heart.

Unfortunately, not all children’s books are discovered by us when we are children.  Not all children’s books that should be appreciated at a young age are until we are much older.  And not all children’s books are really worth reading at any age.

I’m not a literature professor.  But I was a kid once, and knew my taste in books.  I thought it would be interesting to do a post on the books I remember loving -and hating- when I was a kid.  The books I have listed as loving are titles I feel have been underrated (or at least, I haven’t heard them talked about much) and wanted to bring attention to them.  Were my tastes correct?  My opinion on some of these stories have changed over time (my commentary is provided with each).  Sometimes, there is no right or wrong (just unique) taste.

I loved: The Kingdom of Kidderminster books, by Christopher A. Lane.  Based on the parables of Jesus, good King Leonard and his animal kingdom learn familiar lessons in tales such as King Leonard’s Great Grape Harvest and Nicholas and His Neighbors.  The illustrations are rich and super cute.  These were also some of the very first “audiobooks” I narrated as a child :).  To this day I can’t hear of these parables in a sermon without thinking of Mrs. Beaver or Sir Humphrey.

I disliked: Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books.  I’m not sure why I could never get into them, but I have an idea it was the pictures of scraggly-drawn creatures.

I loved: The Goose Girl, by the Brothers Grimm.  A twist on the Cinderella story, the goose girl uses her creative talents to design a beautiful ball gown made entirely of white downy feathers.  This always captured my imagination!

I disliked: The Princess and the Pea, by Hans Christian Andersen.  I believe I now have this enigmatic fairy tale figured out, but as a little girl I was upset with the ending that did not make sense.  Could it be it was all about the noble use of discernment?

I loved: Homer Price, by Robert McCloskey.  Long chapters, great vocabulary, fun illustrations! For older readers.  My sister and I made a radio drama out of Nothing New Under the Sun.  I loved the small town setting with familiar characters in new adventures chapter after chapter.

I disliked: Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson.  I tried many times to start and restart this book.  I can’t tell you how many times I checked it out of the library.  But that old yellow cover just did not appeal to me and I could never get beyond page 2.

I loved: Incognito Mosquito, by E.A. Hass.  Not exactly a classic forevermore, but I’ll reckon maybe you never heard of it.  I’d done run out of Encyclopedia Brown books and was hankering for more of the like, when I come across a private insective with a gnat for witty bug jokes in rambling narrative who saves history slime and slime again.

I disliked: Paddington Bear, by Michael Bond.  I wish I could say this was a book I loved, but I required much more action and the marmalade-sucking, rain-dripping bear wasn’t cutting it.

I loved: Snow White & Rose Red, by the Brothers Grimm.  This was one of my favorites from the old Childcraft books.  I loved the story of two sisters, a cottage among roses, and of good things coming to those who are kind and loving.  I always wondered though- did they fight over marrying the bear prince and who would settle for his brother?  Probably not; they were so good, after all.  They weren’t like my sister and me.

I disliked: Diamonds and Toads, by Charles Perrault.  Rather an obscure tale overshadowed by the more popular Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  Ironically, although I didn’t like this story growing up, I believe I was fascinated with the idea all the same.  It isn’t what goes into a person that corrupts them, but what comes out of them (ie, the heart) through their words and actions.  But imagining frogs and toads coming out of their mouths made me shudder.  Actually, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be rewarded with diamonds and butterflies coming out of mine, either.

I loved: The Ivan Series, by Myrna Grant.  I think these books are almost unheard of among today’s generation, and probably were for mine as well (they were published in the 1960’s).  But my grandparents were church librarians at the time and that was how I discovered these gems.  Set during the Cold War era in Soviet Russia, the suspense had me on the edge of my seat.  I couldn’t get enough of them!

I disliked: The Pansy books.  If you are an Anne of Green Gables fan, you may remember a brief reference to these as books Anne and her friends passed around at school.  As a homeschooler, I had access to them as well and did read one called ‘Esther Reid.’  The books are basically moralistic Sunday School tales with great benefit, I’m sure– but I was bored to tears.  I could not bring myself to slog my way through another one, though my friend enjoyed them.

I loved: …The King of the Golden River, by John Ruskin.  We had this as an oversized storybook when I was a kid.  There was something mysterious about this tale and its pictures that captivated me.  Perhaps it was partly because it was given to us by an old man with a funny accent and a mysterious past himself.

I disliked: Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.  I can appreciate this story now with a few more years under my belt, but as a kid the utter chaos lost me but good.

I loved: …The Story of the 10 Lepers, found in Luke 17:11-19.  I loved the stories of Esther and David and Goliath.  But there was something about this story as well, that made me fall in love with the one leper out of ten who had a heart of gratitude for what Jesus had done for him.  His simple and sincere thank you made Jesus smile.

I disliked: The Jungle Books, by Rudyard Kipling.  As I said, I was usually much more into romantic stories of kings and queens than I was into half naked boys and mongooses.  It was just too different of a culture for me to understand and get interested in at the time.

What stories did you love or hate as a child?  Are there any you consider underrated that deserve more attention?  Share below!

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Movie Review: “The Little Prince”

ec4e725b6d1c1d6faf94e3a956f7a7e4Based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Version: 2015; starring Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, James Franco

Genre: children’s; animation

Plot Summary: [from IMDb:] “A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to prepare her for it. Her neighbor, the Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of the Little Prince.”

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not by comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

Growing up, my mom had two copies of the French classic “The Little Prince.” One was in French (and incomprehensible to me), the other in English. Neither interested me very much.  The pictures looked bland and too unbelievable.  I was sure I wouldn’t enjoy the story.

Not too long ago I saw that Netflix had made an animated version of the book and I didn’t mind sitting down to spend an evening that way. I was mildly curious.  I was not prepared to be blown away.

I think I was drawn into it from the first notes of music. The art, the plot, the script were beautifully done.  The old phonograph playing was enough to melt my heart alone!  I was nearly crying by the end of it.  And now I want to read the book very much.  It isn’t often that film versions inspire me to read the book, but when they do…  🙂

This movie is actually told in two stories. One is of a little girl who is expected to live a life where childhood is forgotten.  She unexpectedly meets her next door neighbor, an eccentric old man (and self-proclaimed ‘hoarder’) who used to be an aviator once upon a time.  He begins to woo her friendship by telling her the story of the Little Prince he met in another world long ago.  The story of the Little Prince and his rose is told through stop-motion animation, and I loved every bit about it!  I enjoyed it even more for it’s nuances, and thought-provoking lines about life that are hidden like gems throughout where you have to mine them to interpret the meaning for yourself.  Wonderful!

5dc9afdfecd8144ffddd97bd0c8b18e9There are many who abhor this film because they say it takes too many liberties with the book. Apparently the story of the little girl trying to live the expected life of an adult is not in the original.  Since I’ve never read it, I don’t even know if the part of the Little Prince is told faithfully.  But I know I loved the film and that it has inspired me to pick up a book I never knew I needed to read before.  I would say that is the effect of a well-told, don’t you?

One of my favorite lines comes from the Aviator consoling the little girl when she tells him she doesn’t want to grow up. He responds, “Growing up isn’t the problem– forgetting is.”  I wish someone had been able to tell me that when I was a kid and afraid of graduating to adulthood.  This wisdom makes a world of difference because it is true!  I have found that becoming a true adult is really only becoming the person you were meant to be, which includes the parts of childhood that are good and pure and young in heart.  Idealistically, the aim is to shed the ‘juvenile’ ways we used to think and act.  Juvenility is to be differentiated from being childlike in that it is immature, selfish, and narrow-minded.  (1 Cor. 13:11)  Childhood, on the other hand is essentially joy, wonder, and innocence.

1631c1a78f3a24aa2c2690874535b559I have met older adults, even Christians in their 60’s, behave like juveniles. I have met adults who have completely forgotten what is childhood, instead exuding joylessness, hyper-practicality, and busyness.  But I have also met other adults who have retained their openness to life, wonder at the world, and quest to learn and grow- the mark of a true ‘child at heart.’  That is what God means for us to be, I think.  And for us believers, we are all to be trusting children in relation to Him.

And He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)

I do have a qualm about the movie’s plotline, and that is although it is an indie flick, it does not escape the usual Hollywood storyarc of children being better-knowing than their parents (or more often single parent): rebelling against the ‘status quo’, and teaching the parents they do not know what is best for their kids. See an excellent article on this topic here.

But the voices (esp. Jeff Bridges’ for the Aviator) were great!  Bridges has a voice that has aged well, resulting in a friendly, comforting effect.  I also loved the Fox, voiced by James Franco.  So adorable!

I recommend this glimmering, luminous movie for family viewing, young and old alike. If you approach it being prepared that it’s more loosely based on the book, I think you’ll enjoy it.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 13, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

C. S. Lewis Audio Drama

I wish it had not taken me so long to listen and pass this excellent audio drama on to you, but such has been my [lack of] blogging activity lately I’m afraid!  The Northern Irish Man in C. S. Lewis* stars Geoffrey Palmer as that famous author, who reminisces about his childhood in Ulster.  The acting felt very realistic and it was interesting to find the pieces of Narnia that inspired Lewis as a boy.  Settle in and enjoy, but don’t forget that this is only available for a limited time!

*For some reason cannot insert link to text, so click on picture to take you to the drama!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Dark Nursery Past & Present

Have you ever wondered about the origins of seemingly nonsensical nursery rhymes?

Ring around the rosie,

A pocket full of posies,

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!

Why in the world do we teach young children these simplistic poems when we don’t even know what they are talking about?  Are they clues to some hidden meaning or are their histories long past memory?

In this shortish, informative article by Clemency Burton-Hill, I learned that many nursery rhymes were at one time veiled records of current events.  It’s fascinating, and helps to view these children’s poems in a closer light.

But why are they children’s poems?  Are they fit for children?  The Victorians certainly didn’t think so, and began the campaign to clean the rhymes up.  Okay, I’m grateful for that.  I’d much rather my young’uns babbling fun repetitive sounds than knowingly reciting tales of torture techniques geared for male genitals.  I’m convinced of the educative quality of children learning soothing sounds and rhythms.

But I got to thinking about how ‘shocked’ we are to learn of the real meanings that lie behind these mysterious sing-songs.  It was dealing with the world as they knew it at the time, only later being ‘sanitized’ for society.  We live in a much more decent world, our children are much more innocent…  Or are they?  Our world contains much violence today.  School shootings, child molestation, human trafficking.  However, what worries me more than these issues is what they learn in the home little on up from those nearest to them.  Broken homes, where mom’s had three boyfriends in the past month.  If dad’s in the picture, he’s never grown up himself and spends his waking time playing violent video games or watching adult “cartoons” that spew forth 4 letter (and 3 letter) words.  “Mother”; “It”; “hotdogs and buns”…  And we’re shocked over Rock a Bye Baby?

No, I’m not stressed over wool tax.  I’m worried about the little boy who lives down the lane, who grows up in a world where his dad was busy texting during his first steps and his mom can’t decide whether or not to give him up for adoption because she spends part of her time in jail.  He doesn’t get to be read or sung nursery rhymes.  It’s heartbreaking, and it’s not just little Danny.  His story is a common epidemic!

Yes– clean up the content for the little ones, but let’s not forget about the overall home we’re raising our kids in.  Is it mentally, spiritually, emotionally clean and healthy?  Ultimately, the only way for this to be possible is for the people in the home to be rooted in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Eventually, there’s only so much we can protect our kids from.  We do not live in bubbles forever, and it’s important to remember history from those who came before.  People from long ago passed their experiences down to us in rhymes.  What will we pass down?

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

How Biblical is the Fantasy Genre?

Someone recently approached my mom and asked her if she liked fantasy.  Sure, she said; some of it.

What constitutes fantasy that is good as opposed to fantasy that is bad?  Is there a difference?  Is there something about it that should make one hesitant from a Christian perspective, or are they all just good fiction stories?  As Christians, we may sometimes be reserved when approaching the fantasy genre because different reasons.  Too much unreality may not be beneficial, or maybe the magical elements are of a corrupting influence.  Then, I have known other Christians who seem to practice no discernment, and devour anything because none of it is true so what’s the problem?

I first discovered author Gene Edward Veith while helping out in the church library.  I still have yet to read his books, but a growing number of his titles are on my TBR list.  I stumbled upon this article written by him, entitled Good Fantasy & Bad Fantasy.  I thought it was an excellent piece that approached the subject in an well-rounded way.  Though perhaps written a few years ago, it’s content is still classic for today’s audience as well.

What are your thoughts on the fantasy genre?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Image

Quote for March 15, 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Quotes

 

Tags: , ,

Interview w/ Aaron Fullan

music-1970040_960_720Greetings all!  Are you fan of Heirloom Audio Productions’ G. A. Henty audio dramas?  I confess I have yet the privilege of getting my hands on them, but I can’t wait until I do; they look like great quality stuff.  I came across this on Facebook this evening and wanted to pass it along to anyone else interested.  HAP’s Associate Producer Aaron Fullan will be on Facebook Live on Feb. 24 at 10:30am (CST) answering viewer’s/listener’s questions.  You can find out more here.

Sorry for the lack of posting lately.  I hope to get more free time soon!

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,