Saturday, 28 September 2013

Favourite children's stories

As a child which were your favourite children's stories? 

Mine were Pinocchio and Jack and the Beanstalk. This was before Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the Famous Five and the Five Find-Outers, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, the William stories, and C.S. Lewis came along and nudged me toward books for young adults. Incidentally, I discovered the term ‘YA’ somewhere in the nineties long after I grew out of my teens. Did the term originate later or was it my ignorance? The latter, I guess.

The magical world in the two fairy tales held me spellbound. I suspect I used to like these books more because of the covers of the Classics Illustrated editions that I owned and read over and over again. I was so fascinated by the clean and colourful illustrations that I used to draw some of the strips and paint them with water colours, which came in a pocket sized flat box of 10 or 12 circular shaped colours with a small flimsy brush. I’d sit with this set, a little plastic palette, a steel container filled with water, and an A4 sized drawing book, and proceed to recreate those charming pictures. It was annoying when the colours got mixed or the round paints came off. Nonetheless, many a happy hour was spent this way.
 

Although I liked Pinocchio, I felt sorry for Geppetto’s wooden puppet. I think he has been one of the most recreated and vulgarised characters in all of literature, adapted in so many mediums that you forget what the original looked like. For instance, I don’t particularly remember Pinocchio as being whiny, Shrek told me so. I remember him as being a quiet little fellow. Well, he didn’t inspire me as much as the adventurous Jack did. I thought it was very brave of him to climb a giant tree with his harp and confront the monster lurking in the sky. The huge tree spiralling up endlessly caught my imagination like few things did in those days.

Pinocchio and Jack and the Beanstalk are fairy tales, morals actually, but I wonder if these and other similar children’s stories can be considered as fantasy, sf, and supernatural literature; perhaps, a child’s initiation into these genres. Alright, let’s not take the fun away from the kids.

13 comments:

  1. Great choice Prashant - of course for me as an Italian PINOCCHIO is a huge part of growing up, so I would say that! It's almost a religion out there in fact.

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    1. Thank you very much, Sergio. PINOCCHIO and the other fairy tales, read via Classics Illustrated, were a huge part of my growing up years too. Sadly, not many kids today remember these vintage stories and comic-books. I still have a small collection of the CI comics acquired painfully over the years.

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  2. Besides the golden age books, the earliest books I remember reading and really enjoying were the Walter Farley Black Stallion books and the Jim Kjelgaard dog books.

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    1. Charles, I'm familiar with the Walter Farley Black Stallion and Jim Kjelgaard dog books though I have never read them. I have, of course, seen and loved the movie BLACK STALLION. It became a big hit when it was released in India.

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  3. I loved PINOCCHIO too (we had it as an audio book on tape). I also loved Pippi Longstocking...

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    1. Fleur, I once had occasion to listen to an audio book of PINOCCHIO but I never did. I'll have to take a look at Pippi Longstocking which doesn't sound unfamiliar to me.

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  4. These are great choices. I remember these fondly too. I also remember a series about triplets, FLICKA, RICKA, AND DICKA. By a Swedish author.

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    1. Tracy, thank you. I think a lot of grown-ups would remember these too. I have never heard of the FLICKA, RICKA, AND DICKA series by the Swedish author. I'll check it out.

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  5. Children's books seemed a lot richer then, didn't they. And yes for Pippi.

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    1. Patti, I agree. Children's books back then had class and character. Now they are published and forgotten. I can't think of a single new children's storybook. Pippi it is then.

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  6. I always found Pinocchio a little bit creepy or disturbing to be honest.

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    1. Col, I was never comfortable with Pinocchio either. Perhaps, it had to do with him being a puppet who couldn't lie his way through!

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