[DWJ] OT: Diana Hendry

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at eon-uk.com
Wed Jul 12 13:03:25 EDT 2006

I found a horribly depressing children's book at the BookCrossing
national meet-up in Birmingham.  The book is called "The Carey Street
Cat" by Diana Hendry, and... well, here's my review of it:


The book (for young children) tells the story of Jenkins, who is adopted
as a stray kitten by one of the residents of Carey Street. As he grows
up, he gets to know all of them, and they all want to claim him as their
cat - a dispute only resolved by a suggestion that they all share him.

Jenkins likes to jump, and one day he jumps so high he comes down with a
piece of a star. He thinks it is wonderful, but all the humans in Carey
Street are frightened or awed by it, and Jenkins finds that he has no
friends any more.

Not surprisingly he gets quite hungry, until one family can tempt him
away from the star with some food; they take the star, douse it with
water, and seal it up in a plaster ornament.

The star gone, Jenkins can regain his old life with his human friends,
and everyone is happy...

... except me. What is the moral of the story? To me, it is that there
are wonderful things in the world, but we mustn't strive to attain them
because it will mean we are alienated from society, in a life not worth
living, until we give them up; and that the things that seem so
wonderful are not really worth having.

I sincerely hope that Diana Hendry doesn't believe this, and didn't
intend it as her message, because it is diametrically opposed to my own
belief: that there are wonderful things in this world, which we must
strive to attain whatever other people may think, for _without_ them
life is not worth living.

But I am still depressed that people are printing books for young
children that seem to say that we shouldn't strive for what is wonderful
in the world.

I almost dare not release this. But I'm against censorship, so off it
will go. (It used to be a library book. I hate to think how many
Northamptonshire children had their ambitions stunted...)


So, what do people think?  Am I over-reacting?  Do you think this is
deliberate preaching on Hendry's part?  If not, what possessed her to
write such a book?

obDWJ:  I cannot imagine her writing such a depressing book.
Thankfully.  (Compare "Yes Dear", for example)

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