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Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Classics’

49-1My first introduction to Tuck Everlasting came from the movie (starring Alexis Bledel as Winnie). I think it was actucally through the movie that I heard of the book. After reading the book, I’m surprised the movie didn’t take as many liberties with the story as I originally thought it might.

I think I would have enjoyed this story more if I hadn’t seen the movie, but in some ways the movie also heightened the novel since I had a visual of characters and landscape, in particular the creepy man in the yellow suit (played by Ben Kingsley), and the sound of the music box! (Even if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to see their favorite classics ruined by a movie, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The movie is very beautiful.)

In Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbit threads the dream of immortality into the life of Winnie Foster, a prim and proper Victorian girl being trained for her upper class role, as she meets the Tuck family. She comes across the youngest Tuck, Jesse, in her father’s woods bent over a tree drinking from a spring, but when she wants a drink Jesse tells her she can’t and a struggle ensues. Winnie ends up being kidnapped by the Tucks in order to preserve the secret of the spring, and their own, whoever drinks from it will live forever.4

Babbit deals with a heavy topic. Living forever, or being forever young, seems like an ideal situation, but through the Tuck’s Winnie learns that there’s more to the allure than meets the eye. Life’s a cycle and death is supposed to be a part of it. There’s a finality needed in life that immortality doesn’t bring. The reality of endless life in this world, ultimately, fills empty for the Tuck’s. Even if they can live forever, travel to exotic places, and have adventures they can never settle down, start a family, put down roots–as Miles sadly experienced.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Tuck Everlasting and would recommend it. It’s very well written, childlike, and reminds me of a dream.

The Novel & the Movie

tuck-everlasting-1

There are some differences between the novel and the movie, which are to be expected. The plot doesn’t change, but a few minor (or not so minor) details do. For one, Winnie is 10 going on 11 in the novel and between 15-17 in the film, which sets her up for a romance with Jesse (whose 17). At first, I was disappointed that the movie changed the age to add the romance aspect, however as I read on they didn’t add the romance but embellished it. In the book, Winnie is quite enamored with Jesse from the beginning,

Sitting relaxed with his back against the trunk was a boy, almost a man. And he seemed so glorious to Winnie that she lost her heart at once. (25)

Jesse even asks Winnie to drink from the spring when she’s 17,

…and then you could go away with me! We could get married, even. That’d be pretty good, wouldn’t it! We could have a grand old time, go all around the world, see everything.” (72)

In the film, Jesse and Winnie’s romance is elaborated and quite sensational–if you’re a hopeless romantic you’ll love it.

The only other difference I can think of is how Mae is rescued, but overall no changes to change the plot and theme of the novel. I enjoyed both the book and film. Who knows…maybe you will too!

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secret-gardenThe Secret Garden is one of the reasons I fell in love with English literature. As a kid I had an abridged copy of the story and loved the movie which I bought myself…I was so proud! And it even came with a little locket.

I love this story. It brings you back to that place of childlike wonder and abandonment to something magical. It’s the story of two lonely, spoiled children who life, love, and pleasure in the discovery of a secret garden. I loved to see how Mary and Colin grew throughout the story from being closed and very sad to hopeful, full of life and purpose.

I can’t quite think of how to describe the characters. I love them all. From Ben Weatherstaff to Miss Mary, Dickon, 51HTYRN363L._SS500_and Master Colin…oh, and Martha! Mary was “quite contrary” for a good bit, before discovering friendship and the garden. Colin is the boy you feel sorry for but want to put in his place at the same time, and Ben Weatherstaff is the cranky old man who really isn’t so cranky. Dickon is probably my favorite character–warm, lovable, forgiving from the beginning, and always with his personal menagerie.

I think Dickon is probably the catalyst for Mary’s change, after the discovery of the garden. He’s so gentle with her and gains her trust little by little and before she knows it Mary’s sharing every secret with him and is so eager to learn she loses her early inhibitions.

Le jardin secretI love the Yorkshire accent. It was a little hard to read smoothly at first, but it doesn’t take long to get used to. Oh, and I thought it was hilarious how Mary was so proud of gaining weight and how both her and Colin had to hide their hungry appetites.

There are definitely differences between the book and the movie. The book is, of course, better, but I think the movie does justice to the beauty of the garden as well as how well the actors captured the essence of their characters. Two things that were left out of the movie and didn’t understand why: Susan Sowerby (Dickon’s mother) and the doctor being Colin’s uncle. I think both of these would have added to the movie, especially Dickon’s mother. I think her presence is the loving adult-figure both Mary and Colin needed as well as her boldness to write Master Craven and tell him to come home.

Overall, I love this book and movie. I feel like I’m rambling a bit without really saying much, but it’s a good story that both children and adults will enjoy.

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childrensclassics

As a child the only book of poetry I can remember having is A Child’s Garden of Verses, a collection of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson. Of course, I got my share of Shel Silverstein at school. He’s great, especially “Homework Machine” and its illustration–I loved that one!

But poems from The Land of Nod brought out the magic and imagination of childhood.

The Land of Nod

From breakfast on through all the day
At home amongst my friends I stay,
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.

All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do–
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.

The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.

Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.

Other favorites from this collection are “My Bed Is a Boat,” “The Swing,” “Picture Books in Winter,” “Young Night-Thought,” and “Foreign Lands.”

My husband really enjoys William Blake and often reads his poems to our son. The one I hear him read most often is “The Tiger.”

The Tiger

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

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childrensclassics

One book I hope to become a future children’s classic is Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy. I read this last fall in the last days before my son was born and since he was 10 days late I got to read a few books. (Thanks, Joey.) princessacademyl

I don’t know what all the young(er) ones out there thought of this book, but I loved it. Maybe it’s the idea that a princess will come from this small, obscure village in the furthermost part of a kingdom or that the heroine is the protected and slightly small Miri whom, nearly, everyone overlooks.  Or it’s the idea of common girls attending an academy (because doesn’t that make it sound more prestigious) where they’ll be taught to be princesses.

But maybe, just maybe I love the story because of its unlikely hero who faces her circumstances with strength and courage, and where others back down Miri only pushes further.

Of course, there’s rivalry among girls at the school, a hint of romance, and a group of bandits who threaten all their lives. But among all these things there’s also a love of learning and exploration as the girls from Mount Eskel are opened up to a whole new world. I loved it.

That’s just my pick for a future classic, what do you think? I’d love to hear yours…

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Ichildrensclassics read Beatrix Potter as a kid, but I don’t have a strong memory of her stories. What I do remember is a book cover with  Jemima Puddle Duck  and a story about a fox. And, of course, I have read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but with no lasting impressions of her stories.

In December, I saw the movie Miss Potter and found her life interesting, particularly how they painted her as talking to her animals and them stepping out of their paintings. She did come across as cooky as you’d imagine someone who had conversations with drawings would, but lovable. You must felt sorry for her, that these were her few friends…her world. Watching Miss Potter definitely gave me an added interest in her works and made them more personable.

So, I checked out The Tale of Samuel Whiskers (or The Roly-Poly Pudding). It was quite catching. I really enjoyed the illustrations and thought it was funny to find out just exactly what a “roly-poly pudding” is. Quite comical when you see the drawing. I could see her personality in the story. Especially when she referred to herself, beatrixpotter

…he had just finished making a wheel-barrow for Miss Potter, and she had ordered two hen- coops.

And when I was going to the post late in the afternoon–I looked up the lane from the corner, and I saw Mr. Samuel Whiskers and his wife on the run, with  big bundles on a little wheel-barrow, which looked very much like mine. […] I am sure I never gave her leave to borrow my wheel-barrow! (pp. 71-72)

It was funny and enjoyable, even for an adult.

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