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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sun 13 Apr 2014, 15:37

Just realised you've edited your message, MM - so mine sounds as if I hadn't read yours - well, I hadn't, not the edited version.

Yep, of course decent people do get "shafted", as you say, all the time. But surely if we give up trying - and give up trying to teach children via stories and films to keep trying - we've had it?
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sun 13 Apr 2014, 17:52

Sorry, I'm afraid I do have a tendency to repeatedly edit and hone the message, until someone replies.

I like the 'Happy Prince' ... not just for the tale itself, but also because for two years now I've actually had one, possibly two, house martens, that have over-wintered here in the nests in which they were hatched, while all the rest of their family have departed for sunnier climes. I can relate to them when I too am all alone in the depths of winter, and they are certainly a cheery sight on sunny December days when they have warmed up enough to make a short desparate search for what meagre food is available. I would feed them but I think they will only eat flying insects that they catch themselves. However, so mild has been the weather this year, that I'm certain at least one survived to welcome the rest of the family back to their old haunt, when all the others arrived back from Africa, en masse in just one afternoon, about  two weeks ago.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sun 13 Apr 2014, 21:37

There's been quite a flurry of activity on this thread so the post I refer to is old news. I made a mistake and believe it was on this thread. I realise that somewhere I referred to the Arthurian Legend, or really a later add-on to the legend as being Gawain and the Green Knight.  Of course that's quite another story and the one where Gawain makes the ugly woman handsome again is Gawain and the Loathsome Lady or Gawain and Dame Ragnall. Perhaps I've been affected by TV adaptations which alter the source material. As I've said before fidelity to source material appears to have fallen out of favour in many TV and film versions of tales.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sun 13 Apr 2014, 21:47

LiR - I'm not convinced fidelity to sources ever was in favour in films, but you may have a point as far as TV is concerned.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 14 Apr 2014, 09:10

MM's mention of the house martens who stay to brave the winter with him reminded me of a story that made a big impression on me when I was young: Maeterlinck's The Bluebird (L'Oiseau Bleu). It was written as a play in 1908, but I read it as a simple account in one of those big "Wonderbooks" - collections of tales and rhymes - that were so popular in the 1950s. You always got one in your Christmas pillowcase.

No need for frantic searching: the bluebird of happiness is there in your backyard all the time - or at least that's what we were told.



Maeterlinck's play has been adapted for film many times:

The Blue Bird (1910 film), a silent film starring Pauline Gilmer and Olive Walter
The Blue Bird (1918 film), a silent film directed by Maurice Tourneur
The Blue Bird (1940 film), starring Shirley Temple
The Blue Bird (1970 film), a Soviet animated film
The Blue Bird (1976 film), a joint Soviet-American production directed by George Cukor
Blue Bird, filmed in Togo. Directed by Gust Van Den Berghe and presented at the 2011 Cannes festival.

I dread to think what Shirley Temple/Hollywood did with it.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 14 Apr 2014, 09:18

Anytime you have a spare 80 minutes Temp;



it was just posted on youtube yesterday.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 14 Apr 2014, 11:14

Thank you for that, Trike. Here's the 1918 version:



Only 40 years between that and The Ringing Singing Tree.

Both disturbing and dark, despite the apparently positive message they contain.

Perhaps we are all better off with the Shirley Temple approach to life; but then again, perhaps not...

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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 14 Apr 2014, 11:32

Maybe not the Shirley Temple approach to life, but the Shirley Temple Black approach had a lot to commend it.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 15 Apr 2014, 11:32

nordmann wrote:
Maybe not the Shirley Temple approach to life, but the Shirley Temple Black approach had a lot to commend it.
For a former child star the late Mrs Temple Black seems to have survived the Hollywood years retaining a remarkably "normal" personality.  Judy Garland was (in my view) a talented person but she does seem to have suffered in some ways.  I recall reading that when she was making "Over the Rainbow" the studio bandaged her bosom to make her look more childish than the teenager she actually was.  I don't mean this to be a rant against child stars.  There's a child on a certain TV show I won't name that I could cheerfully throttle (well metaphorically speaking, in case anybody takes what I say too literally, thinking of what happened on a different thread earlier in the year), though to be fair the directors/producers of the show probably make the kid act that way.  I believe Deanna Durbin, who to be accurate played more teenage type roles than little kid roles, retired from show business at about 26 and lived quietly thereafter.

While thinking about "darker" tales aimed at children, I ultimately found the message of "Over the Rainbow" a bit preachy, but I attended a showing once where the younger children in the audience (including ones that would be younger primary school age, not pre-school children) found the flying creatures the witch sends after the "goodies" very frightening.

I don't want to be PC gone mad, this is speculation really, but nowadays could the inclusion of the creepy dwarf in "The Singing Ringing Tree" be considered as being anti-small people?
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 16 Apr 2014, 09:30

LadyinRetirement wrote:


While thinking about "darker" tales aimed at children, I ultimately found the message of "Over the Rainbow" a bit preachy, but I attended a showing once where the younger children in the audience (including ones that would be younger primary school age, not pre-school children) found the flying creatures the witch sends after the "goodies" very frightening.


I remember being terrified by those dreadful flying monkey things - but then I had to be taken out of Pinocchio because I got so upset about his nose.

I really was a dreadful wimp - too lively an imagination, I suppose.

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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 16 Apr 2014, 11:15

I think kids just get frightened by certain things.  I remember having nightmares after reading Noddy and the Goblins.  And I certainly don't think of myself as very sensitive or imaginative but I remember having trouble with the walls in my bedroom - some nights they seemed to come alive and move.  I would have to shut my eyes very tightly not to see the wallpaper sort of shifting. Or even climb into my grandmother's bed for a bit of comfort.

One of my sons had to hide behind the sofa (when I was in the room) when Little Red Riding Hood was on the television.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 16 Apr 2014, 11:50

Caro has a point about certain items frightening certain children I think.  After watching a programme where a very young David Attenborough met with head-hunters in New Guinea I had nightmares and one episode of Fabian of Scotland Yard where somebody was going round drowning people scared me. I had a friend once who insisted on a bath rather than a shower after having seen Psycho, though that was in young adulthood rather than childhood.  It was some years later, but because I suppose (though they didn't phrase it thus) my parents thought I was a wuss I wasn't allowed to watch Quatermass and the Pit the first time it was on.  Even in adulthood I have never sought out horror tales; never read a "Twilight" book in my life though I did watch some episodes of "Mystery and Imagination" back in the day.  Then again, there is a part of us that likes to be scared though I suppose there is a fine line between what works and what doesn't.  I can't remember the story but there is one Grimm tale where the heroine has to escape her new husband (or is it fiance - it's such a long time ago) when she finds out that her predecessor ended up in the cooking pot. I was about 9 and found it just about suspenseful enough without scaring me out of my wits.  (The heroine does escape).  Going back to the exact topic of the thread, did I learn anything from those stories?  Maybe that some things gave me a frisson of fear without driving me doo-lally whereas other things left me unable to sleep.  Of course, before reading/watching a book/programme/play one does not know what the degree of fear involved is .....
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 16 Apr 2014, 11:52

I used to watch The Outer Limits purely to get a scare.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 16 Apr 2014, 14:57

Blame Vizzer and his Trolls for this one;

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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 28 Jul 2014, 08:26

And what on earth are French enfants learning from the children's section in their libraries ???





A selection chosen by Jenny Colgan of the Guardian can be found here.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 16 Aug 2014, 23:18

Maybe the French don't want their children to grow up too molly-coddled. My reason for posting is that I was thinking about my pre-school days when I was at the looking mostly at the pictures stage of getting to grips with books (no I wasn't one of those child prodigies who read "War and Peace" back to front in the original Russian before my fourth birthday).  I used to like Rupert Bear (despite his awful checked pants). I remember there was one story about a flying horse (a bit like Pegasus) with a "mare's nest" in a tree. I was disappointed when my Mum told me there weren't any flying horses.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sun 17 Aug 2014, 08:00

Actually the original acticle about "French" children's books (most of the authors aren't French), although amusing, does rather exaggerate and cherry-pick. A look at the descriptions on amazon.fr shows that several of those books were specifically written to address children's fears and problems in a manner they can relate to. For example:

"L'enfant silence" (meaning "the child called Silence", not "the silent child") deals with the issue of child abuse and the struggle the little girl has in putting what is happening to her into words, thus the "disturbing" doll with the sewn up mouth - in French "une bouche cousue" (sewn up mouth) just means to keep quiet about something.

"La Tête dans le Sac" ("The head in the bag" - and it's a handbag not a plastic bag) is about a very shy girl who hides her head in her handbag when people approach her, until one day she's so scared that she starts crying and causes a garden to grow in the bottom of her bag. Looking after the garden she gains confidence and learns to make others confident too. 

"L'Amour qu'on porte" means, "The love that one carries within" or "The love we carry with us", rather than, "The love that takes us away", and is about the sometimes difficult relationship between a father and his son. It has the charming catchline: "Ce qu’on porte avec amour n’est jamais trop lourd" - "Whatever you carry with love is never too heavy".

"Le poids d'un chagrin" means the weight of sorrow, not the weight of disappointment, and is about trying to find joy and hope when something sad happens. It's for four year olds so it's mostly pictures anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 03 Nov 2014, 14:50

This was on BBC4 yesterday evening, this is now the second time I've missed it. Fortunately it is on I-player.

Extract, sorry the full programme is not on youtube as yet;

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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 03 Nov 2014, 15:03

Trike, I can't remember having read these non-fiction Ladybird books though they seem to have been little gems. I didn't like the fiction ones - perhaps I was that little bit too old and as for the readers, I liked Peter and Jane as much as I liked Dick and Dora (Happy Venture); in other words I hated them.  Maybe I didn't give  the non-fiction books a chance because I hated the fiction  ones so much.

Edit: for the sake of clarity, when I refer to "readers", I do not mean readers as in persons who indulged in the act of reading Ladybird books but the Ladybird reading scheme with Peter and Jane and Mummy and Daddy - and they gave the dog a shortened form of my real-life name.  I'd already had a dog (well a bitch) called after me in real life - well nearly the same name.  I know the dog's name being similar to mine was just a co-incidence in the Ladybird books and I think they did make a stab at teaching kids phonics and not just expect the kids to learn it by osmosis somehow.  I seem to have missed the Ladybird appreciation gene.


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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 05 Nov 2014, 10:38

Ladybird books had a very explicit agenda to educate so, whether one acknowledges it or not, it must be true that anyone around as a child during the series' "golden age" could not fail to have learnt quite a lot of information from their content. Whether all that was learnt was necessarily useful, adequate or even in need of drastic reappraisal in later life is a moot point. But sometimes a combination of the simple language and easy to interpret graphics could impart something to the child reader which transcended its obvious content. One example that I remember vividly and I notice has also been posted by a contributor to the Ladybird Book fan site concerned a graphic from the "Soldier" series. This was intended for very young readers so the graphics portrayed a highly sanitised view of warfare, concentrating on machinery, uniforms and without a drop of blood in sight. All the more reason therefore that the final graphic in a book looking at modern warfare jumped out at you, especially with the accompanying text with which the book ended:



"In the past, soldiers fought other soldiers.
In war today, nobody is safe.
Any man, woman or child can be killed, injured or made homeless"

The statement is not actually true with regard to the past, but I still get a shiver when I see that picture today. As a child I must have empathised completely with the featured toddler.

The Ladybird fan site is here (a Norwegian registered site too, I notice).
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 05 Nov 2014, 11:25

The flowering of Ladybird books must have been a little after my time.  I can remember there was a series that was under the aegis of Ladybird books in - I think - the "Swift" comic [which I didn't like - the Ladybird series not the "Swift" as a whole].  I think their non-fiction books must have surpassed their fiction ones (as I said in my earlier post).  There were a lot of Ladybird books about in the 1970s if I remember rightly, but I was an adult by then so didn't appreciate them.  If I had had kids (and therefore perhaps bought books to read to them) maybe it would have been different.  There were a couple of magazines I read when I was about seven or eight, "Enid Blyton's Magazine" and "Sunny Stories" which I quite enjoyed (I know Mrs Blyton is kind of persona non grata on this site but she could spin a yarn; obviously I never met her so I don't know what she was like as a person).  I'm not saying that because the Ladybird brand didn't appeal to me personally other people shouldn't have liked them - and I either completely overlooked - or have completely forgotten about - the non-fiction side of their output, which to be fair from the examples Nordmann and Trike have given do seem to have had merit.


Last edited by LadyinRetirement on Wed 05 Nov 2014, 13:53; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Not sure "published" was the right word - have changed to "given")
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 05 Nov 2014, 12:23

Ladybird books were so extensive a range that there was a fair proportion of good and bad in the output. Personally it was the artwork that hooked me - I really yearned at a young age to be able to paint and draw with almost photographic realism like their artists could. From the 70s onwards I noticed that they added artwork from artists who preferred more stylised or slightly caricaturish pictures, with much more line drawing than before. This change of style seemed to devalue the series somewhat - at least for me. It also coincided with a huge drop in readership from which they never recovered. I couldn't help but feel that these were related.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 05 Nov 2014, 13:32

In a recent episode of "Germany : Memories of a Nation" a refugee's handcart very like the ones illustrated in that Ladybird book picture was featured. For those who haven't been following the series, here is a link to the episode.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6ttw
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 05 Nov 2014, 14:26

An opportunity to indulge in some nostalgia;

http://www.arranalexander.co.uk/
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 05 Nov 2014, 14:34

Remember these ones?

DEAN'S CLASSICS (Dean and Son)
Serial No./Title

1. Heidi (by Johanna Spyri)
2. What Kay Did (by Susan Coolidge)
3. What Katy Did Next (by Susan Coolidge)
4. Robin Hood and His Merry Men
5. Treasure Island (by R. L. Stevenson)
6. Little Women (by Louisa M. Alcott)
7. Moby Dick (by Herman Melville)
8. Black Beauty (by Anna Sewell)
9. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (by Lewis Carroll)
10. The Three Musketeers (by Alexandre Dumas)
11. Children of the New Forest (by Capt. Marryat)
12. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
13. Around the World in Eighty Days (by Jules Verne)
14. Good Wives (by Louisa M. Alcott)
15. Jo's Boys (by Louisa M. Alcott)
16. Wuthering Heights (by Emily Bronte)
17. Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte)
18. Lorna Doone (by R. D. Blackmore)
19. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (by Jules Verne)
20. Vanity Fair (by W. M. Thackeray)
21. The Man in the Iron Mask (by Alexandre Dumas)
22. Great Expectations (by Charles Dickens)
23. Coral Island (by R. M. Ballantyne)
24. A Tale of Two Cities (by Charles Dickens)
25. The Last of the Mohicans (by J. Fenimore Cooper)
26. Pride and Prejudice (by Jane Austen)
27. Oliver Twist (by Charles Dickens)
28. Ivanhoe (by Sir Walter Scott)
29. Gulliver's Travels (by Jonathan Swift)
30. The Water Babies (by Charles Kingsley)
31. Robinson Crusoe (by Daniel Defoe)
32. Tom Brown's Schooldays (by Thomas Hughes)
33. The Black Arrow (by R. L . Stevenson)
34. Kidnapped (by R. L . Stevenson)
35. Little Men (by Louisa M. Alcott)
36. Ben-Hur (by Lew Wallace)
37. The Swiss Family Robinson (by Johann R. Wyss)
38. Adventures of Tom Sawyer (by Mark Twain)
39. Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales
40. Grimm's Fairy Tales
41. Vilette (by Charlotte Bronte)
42. Son of Black Beauty (by Phyllis Briggs)
43. The Pilgrim's Progress (by John Bunyan)
44. A Christmas Carol (by Charles Dickens)
45. Saint George for England (by G. A. Henty)
46. Winning His Spurs (by G. A. Henty)
47. Barchester Towers (by Anthony Trollope)
48. The Black Tulip (by Alexandre Dumas)
49. King Solomon's Mines (by H. Rider Haggard)
50. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (by Mark Twain)
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 05 Nov 2014, 14:47

Number 7;




Looks like the actual book I once had.............. I was cheering for the whale.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 05 Nov 2014, 18:26

I think it would be a bad idea to give some of those titles - Moby-Dick amongst them - to children, as it might make them less likely to read them once they were old enough to get the subtleties of the story.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 21:35

Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
In a recent episode of "Germany : Memories of a Nation" a refugee's handcart very like the ones illustrated in that Ladybird book picture was featured. For those who haven't been following the series, here is a link to the episode.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04k6ttw



Yes that were the common handcarts used in Germany in that time. With the exodus in May, June 1940 in Belgium and France it were also some common carts that were used, as a baby carriage and a pushcart. And in 1948 I have still seen some examples of it,
we built even our own pushcart I suppose in 1947 to carry the fish (it were fish merchants) from the railway station to the shop. I still see the procedure of the building in my imagination, it were one of my first childhood rememberings...
http://goo.gl/oR5ldS
http://goo.gl/yDavXF


Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 22:07

Paul :
The ex-pram, usually with the handles removed and a piece of rope substituted, was a common sight in my youth in my mining village (all now, alas, long gone, my youth, the local collieries, and my sojourn there). The "allowance" coal given to current and ex-miners was delivered by lorry, not in sacks as a coal merchant would, carried through the"entry" and tipped, bag by bag, in the coal house, but tipped in the street outside the house concerned. The different pits delivered it at dates to suit themselves, so there was a reasonably constant traffic between those temporarily short of fuel, and other family members who had plenty.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 07 Nov 2014, 22:17

Gil, thanks for your childhood rememberings.Yes those past childhoods, worth a thread? Priscilla?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 22 Nov 2014, 11:11

I see Ladybird Books were recently in the news for their intention to rename and rebrand some of their titles which were specifically targeting children of either sex. Not many it must be said (12 or so from 600 current titles), but enough to warrant a bit of PR overdrive as the company pledged to concentrate instead on children's "potential" rather than gender etc etc.

This touches on the original intended theme of this thread - those things we inadvertently took on board from our early reading whether it was ever the authors' intention or not and which therefore has become something learnt so long ago that we don't even know from where we picked it up, something moreover that has become ingrained in our psyche. Sexism, it must be acknowledged, has to have been high on the list of such things to which we were at least exposed at a tender age from this type of source.

But that in itself is a tough one: did exposure to sexism in children's literature train us to be sexist, or in fact did it equip us to recognise in terms we could understand the innate sexism in the society we would grow up in? If, as the modern trend would seem to be, children will now be "protected" from such influences by having sexism purged from our bookshelves in shops and libraries, does this liberate them or merely equip them poorly for dealing later with the "real world"?

One could substitute any -ism for sexism and ask the same question of course. Just as one could substitute any source of information for books. But the question is the same, and it's no easier to answer.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 22 Nov 2014, 21:31

Nordmann,

my first approach would be that the "protected" child is not a good idea. The  earlier they learn about the "real world", the better.
Later the gap of ignorance will be less and it helps too to not be seen by the "knowledgeables" as backward. I speak of own experience. Of course every individual is different...what good is for one can be bad for another...

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 22 Jan 2015, 09:59

A new take on some classic Ladybird book illustrations courtesy of today's Guardian newspaper, celebrating the book publishers' 100th birthday today ...



















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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 22 Jan 2015, 10:09

And then I found these:















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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 22 Jan 2015, 16:06

Another one of Bob Staake's:

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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sun 25 Jan 2015, 17:01

Trike and Nordmann, you are both very naughty.  The re-titled Ladybird books titles are extremely funny though.  The one of the ginger-bread man makes me think of "The Jerk" an old Steve Martin film, where he played a character who had been taken in as an orphan by a black family.  He was of course a man grown by the time the film was supposed to be taking place - his adoptive mother took him aside and said "Nathan, you ain't our natural born child".  It probably doesn't work when I type it here but in the film it was (to me at least) quite funny.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 06 Mar 2015, 08:14

Looks like someone at the BBC has been cribbing ideas from res historica:

BBC News - Ladybird books: the strange things we learned.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 06 Mar 2015, 09:12

Meles meles wrote:
Looks like someone at the BBC has been cribbing ideas from res historica:

I've had my suspicions about that as well.... and when that bagpipe programme started on Wednesday, well
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 07 Mar 2015, 20:18

Could be "Great minds think alike" - couldn't possibly be "Fools seldom differ".  Mind you MM and Trike could be on to something - didn't this site break away from the BBC boards (some time before Sincerely Thine found her merry way here).
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 07 Mar 2015, 21:57

Perhaps Someone Here is selling our ideas to Auntie, or Someone There used to work for Murdoch.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 09 Mar 2015, 14:22

LadyinRetirement wrote:
 Mind you MM and Trike could be on to something - didn't this site break away from the BBC boards (some time before Sincerely Thine found her merry way here).

Res started when the BBC History message boards closed down LiR.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 11 Mar 2015, 10:29

A Classics Illustrated online;

http://www.reformation.org/lion-of-the-north.html

click each page to enlarge
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 11 Mar 2015, 12:12

Not in the same league as the Ladybird books but in much the same style, at least artistically, were the I-Spy series. Again very much a product of their time when days out were trips to the seaside or family hikes in the country, and summer holidays were always spent in Britain, and involved long slow train or car journeys to get anywhere. I-Spy books were invaluable for keeping children occupied as the scenery slowly passed, and with their simple, easily copied line-drawings and brief explanatory text, they were good for doing school work too.





My sister was more enthusiastic about them than I was and she carefully sent the completed books off to Hawkeye, at the Wigwam on the Water (actually an office next to the Mermaid Theatre in Blackfriars) to get her certificate signed by Big Chief I-Spy. I think they dropped all the ‘redskin’ connotations when the books were resurrected in the 1990s by Michelin travel publications, and they obviously had to update the books a lot:



.... when we went on holiday to visit ganny in Northumberland, motorways didn't exist and it used to take us two full days driving round the London South Circular and up the A1 to get there.

I don't know what the later series were like but the ones from the 1950s and '60s certainly reflected a bygone era when children (at least middle class ones) were not unfamiliar with farm animals grazing in fields, chickens and ducks ranging free in farm yards, wild flowers growing along roadsides, policemen riding bicycles, and where all railway stations were fully staffed with a ticket office, porters, signalmen, and a be-capped and uniformed station master.

Cheap and cheerful, especially when priced in pre-decimal money … nowadays collectors can expect to pay about £4 for each old I-Spy booklet from a specialist dealer.


Last edited by Meles meles on Wed 11 Mar 2015, 12:38; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 11 Mar 2015, 12:35

Gosh, I-Spy books. One of those nearly did for my father.

It was the one (can't remember which - was it "At the Seaside"?) where you had to climb up a lighthouse in order to get your maximum points/score or something - I can't remember how it all worked. I made my aged parent go with me to the very top of a lighthouse - I think it was the one at Land's End - not knowing that he was already suffering from the angina pectoris that would eventually kill him. I am sorry, dad.

But I think I got my Red Feather or whatever the prize was you received from the Chief I-Spy Wigwam or whoever it was in charge. Red Feathers do not come easily in this life - for parents or for their determined offspring.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 11 Mar 2015, 16:03

The equivalent of the 'Janet and John' early-reading books, in France, Luxembourg and Belgium are the classic ‘Martine’ series. I doubt many here know of them but I think they will be familiar to Paul R (though perhaps in Flemish rather than French). Martine has been going strong for about 50 years now, during which time she has rescued kittens, worked selflessly on grandpa’s death-trap of a farm, put on impromptu plays to raise money for charities, found lost puppies, talked to umpteen odd strangers she's just met in the street, helped old people, solved crimes …. and generally been an annoying, precocious goody-goody. And so like Janet and John, Martine is now subject to much parody.

Here are some of the old titles - brought up to date. The French is fairly obvious but I’ve given a few translations. For the original titles you’ll just have to guess!




 ... has missed Gay Pride.



 ..... finds her lost rabbit.


 Martine ... Jehovah's Witness.




Martine ... likes to fart in her corner ..... and then, ... shits at the bottom of the garden!

But returning to the question posed in the original post: “what have we learned from these?”. Well, one leçon might be that you can easily lure pretty little girls into the woods by claiming that you’ve lost your puppy ... or entice them into a long-abandoned shed on the offer of a chest of old clothes for dressing-up! Alternatively the old stand-bys of promised candy, a kitten, “some pretty flowers for your mother”,  or “a ride in my aeroplane”,  seem to work quite well too!


Last edited by Meles meles on Thu 12 Mar 2015, 12:49; edited 7 times in total (Reason for editing : bit of trouble with the formatting)
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 11 Mar 2015, 16:11



That poor dog looks really shocked.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 11 Mar 2015, 16:54

Well quite ... You try doing the reverse cowgirl position when you've got the long body but very short legs of a daschund!
Shocked
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 11 Mar 2015, 17:02

Meles meles wrote:
Well quite ... You try doing the reverse cowgirl position when you've got the long body but very short legs of a daschund!
Shocked



I'd rather not.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 11 Mar 2015, 21:13

MM, I stand appalled - what on earth were you doing with the body and legs of that poor dachshund? Don't try it in the UK is all I can say, the RSPCA will haul you off to chokey in no time flat.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 28 Aug 2015, 15:27

I suppose another lesson we should have learned from children's literature is that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Following on from his success with "Trawler Boy Dick" (1927) which was actually a story about a cabin boy on a fishing boat in Devon, Geoffrey Prout, in 1930, published his most famous best-seller:



... with disappointingly not a single hand-cuff, gag, leather harness ... nor indeed any of the usual accoutrements of the modern S&M scene to be found within its covers.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 28 Aug 2015, 16:05

Very Happy


Never such innocence again - as Philip Larkin said. Even little Year 7 kids would giggle over that one these days.
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