Childhood favourites (Was Oh the horror!)

Ian W. Riddell iwriddell at
Wed Feb 12 16:30:18 EST 2003

>>>  Love You Forever (double bleagh),
>>I'm amazed at how many adults love this book and think that 
>>children will too. Don't get me wrong, I love Robert Munsch, his 
>>"Paper-bag Princess" "Stephanie's Ponytail" and "Thomas' Snowsuit" 
>>are some of my favourite books to read and read aloud. Kids adore 
>>them. Kids respond less enthusiastically to "Love you forever". I 
>>think it's some adults' idea of what kids will like - but it's just 
>>too heart-on-the-sleeve for kids to sit still for more than once.
>We all *loved* _The Paper-bag Princess_.  So much fun.  I'm not sure 
>about _Love You Forever_, but I'm getting a bad feeling that it was 
>something the kids other grandmother read to them.  Becca thought 
>so, but found it disturbing to remember too closely!
>Another one I'd have expected to find on people's lists is _The 
>Giving Tree_.  Seemed to have pride of place in a lot of pre-schools 
>in the US when we were there.  I did a violent swing against it 
>(we'd loved reading a lot of Silverstein's poems to Becca) after 
>clicking onto the fact that the Tree was female, and her role was to 
>give and give and mutilate herself to try to satisfy this horrible 
>Boy. (Yeah, Weird Readings Ltd. - that's my name.)

I truly *hate* that book. Yes, because the tree is female and she is 
only happy when she is sacrificing herself for the boy who does 
nothing to deserve anywhere near that level of sacrifice and never 
even thanks her. Great. I think people believe it's about learning to 
be generous and loving - when I think it's about teaching people to 
allow themselves to be used (is this what a Strong Reading is?)

In the two and a half years I worked at the book store, I never 
recommended it to one customer, never made sure we had "enough" 
copies in stock. If someone asked for it I gave it to them, if they 
didn't then they didn't hear about it from me!

I, of course, own a copy (go figure) that I won't get rid of because 
my dearest friend in all the world gave it to me at a very special 
time. It's not on the list of books that I'll give to my goddaughter 
or nieces or nephews though (and I seem to be the designated book 


Fairy tales are not true--fairy tales are important, and they are not 
true, they are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons 
exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be defeated.
G.K. Chesterton

Ian W. Riddell
iwriddell at
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