Tuesday, May 25, 2010
There are always two kinds of people, right? Those who like Winnie-the-Pooh and those who don't. Those who like broccoli and those who don't.
When it comes to children's stories, there are those who like them sweet and mild - and those who like them grim!
I come by my own predilection for grim stories naturally. My mom told me The Hobyahs over and over again when I was a wee lass, and while it does end happily for one character, it's pretty much death by dismemberment or ingestion for all the rest of the characters, especially the canine hero of the tale. It's not that I relish violence (no, really) - it's more an appreciation of the story, even those uncomfortable bits.
Should two of the three pigs get eaten and the big bad wolf get boiled? Yes! Forget about those pigs getting away (as a librarian friend of mine told a library school class last week, "those pigs made bad choices.") and forget about the big bad wolf learning to repent. Let's let the fur and bristles fly.
I must admit that I have never told The Hobyahs to kids at the library (although my own kids have heard it - and so our penchant for peculiar tales gets passed on), but I stand by the Bloody Version of the Three Little Pigs. Parents look faintly shocked sometimes, but then, I've had parents express dismay about the Gingerbread Man getting eaten. Hey, that Gingerbread Man is one of the most obnoxious characters around! I have no qualms with him being eaten by pigs or foxes or whoever manages to trick him.
And what about the wolf who gobbles up Little Red Riding Hood? He's a baddie, so it never bothered me as a child when his stomach was filled with rocks and he was tossed in the river (or was it a well?). It was so vivid an idea that I could almost hear the rocks scraping and clattering against each other and see their lumpy outlines through the wolf's stomach.
Sometimes it's teachers who are the sensitive ones. I was recently told of a preschool teacher who curtailed her class's trip to the library after the librarian read The Super Hungry Dinosaur by Martin Waddell, in which a boy talks a dinosaur out of eaten him and his family. Apparently it was too violent and taught poor values, according to the note the teacher left for the librarian. Oh dear.
I could go on and on, quoting Bruno Bettelheim and mentioning red hot shoes and poked-out eyes. But I will never convince tender-hearted folks who don't like that stuff. We wolf-boilers and gingerbread eaters will just have to carry on, telling stories the Intense Way.
Posted by Eva M