LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Winnie the Pooh, a Classic

Is Winnie the Pooh a classic?

Yes, of course. It has had a presreadingence in each of our lives. The majority of people in the U.S. know about Winnie the Pooh or have heard of it. Particularly, it has been successful in capturing the interest of young children; though, Milne wrote the Pooh stories for both children and the child within adults. To this day, Winnie the Pooh remains a multibillion merchandising empire whose trademarks are owned by Disney. Disney has created numerous adaptations based off of Milne’s original stories, and is continuously releasing new Pooh movies, Pooh video games, Pooh TV series/specials, and a great variety of Pooh merchandise.

Now, what is a classic? What makes a story a classic? Well, a classic in the literary context is a story that transcends time and maintains itself as a source of value, relatability, and/or pleasure for the recurring generations. Although each classic is distinctively different from another in its unique form, style, presentation, and/or plot points and storyline, all classics share certain characteristics that nurture their success.

footprints

Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner have a distinctive writing style that distinguishes them from other texts. Milne adds humor at the expense of the characters who may have no idea what is going on, but we know all too well. We see such occurrences in chapter three, “Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle.” Here, Piglet and Pooh are following animal tracks that they hypothesize to be Woozles. The reader is told that Pooh has been “walking round and round in a circle, thinking of something…” (A. A. Milne). Then Pooh and Piglet commence their tracking of some mysterious prints in the snow, which the reader knows them to be Pooh’s own footprints. More evidence of these being Pooh’s (and Piglet’s) own footprints presents itself as Piglet and Pooh come across more pairs of footprints along the same track. It is amusing to the reader to watch two completely oblivious characters waste their time in tracking nothing but their very selves, and then seeing Piglet in fear over what the creatures could be (and how many as well).

Milne uses characters who dominantly express one single trait: Pooh and his constant hunger; Piglet and his anxiety; Eeyore and his depression; Etc. Milne’s intention in doing so is to create a more enjoyable piece; to use exaggerations that are both humorous and enjoyable to the reader. Furthermore, as we discussed in class, because the characters never change and always result back to their original selves by the beginning of the next day (the next story), we have here everlasting characters who will always be in a single state of mind, and whom popular culture can make into infinite adaptations featuring new adventures and experiences, thus keeping Winnie the Pooh classic, interesting, and profitable.

Pooh stuff         A good sign of the timelessness of Winnie the Pooh is its popularity in terms of merchandise and profitability. In fact, Winnie the Pooh is Disney’s most profitable franchise, and brings in over a billion dollars in revenues each year. Just surfing through the Disney online store, there are Winnie the Pooh plush toys, figurine playsets, crib bedding sets, mugs, quilts, tees, beanie bags, pillows, slippers, cups, pajamas, and even a limited edition signed artwork for approximately $800.00. It goes to show that children and adults alike enjoy Pooh and may develop nostalgia — or “expensive” nostalgia — for the lovable bear and his companions. There is no doubt that Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner will continue to be classics for years to come as they inspire new adaptations and new adventures that offer joy and value to the young and old alike, as well as for many future generations to come.

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Why We Love Five Children and It

It is safe to say that we all, at the very least, have enjoyed our reading of Nesbit’s Five Children and It. As we discussed in class, there may be an argument that Nesbit’s treasure chest of ideas were savaged from other writers’ works, and therefore may be perceived as “unoriginal.” Whether or not someone comes to this conclusion, Five Children and It remains a fun-filled children’s story structured with moral-encompassing instances and situations, all intertwined with adventure and imagination; broadly speaking, this is why we love and enjoy Nesbit’s story so much, but there are a plentiful more reasons why.

What this book does good at — if not best — is constructing one’s intolerance for wishes. Just about every wish the children make ends up putting them in troublesome circumstances in which they then must find ways of hiding or suppressing the wished items, which is necessary in preventing very real consequences such as jail time, death, starvation, etc. By the end of the story, the reader — like our heroines — is exhausted due to the children’s constant struggle to cover up the unintended results of their wishes (all while dealing with having to stay fed). In a genre of fiction where a child would dream of being submerged in a reality where some one/two/three wishes have the possibility of being granted, ‘wish granting’ in Five Children and It becomes one’s seemingly worst nightmare, thus Nesbit does well in suppressing the reader’s tendencies of wishful thinking.wishing

The ‘consequences associated with wishing’ is a successful lesson to be learned in Nesbit’s story, and it is the main motif that the story builds upon, thus allowing the development of the children’s many adventures (inevitably providing for a some 200-page story). But what this motif further offers us are underlying values, such as the importance of family (as seen in the instance where the Lamb is suddenly wanted by everybody, and is nearly kidnapped from his siblings on several occasions — if it had not been for their smart thinking; the children soon realize how important their brother is to them in hindsight to his ever being lost) and further the value in necessity over greed (as demonstrated when the children seek beauty, riches, and wings, among other things, and then suffer in the absence of food; nutrition being the most fundamental, vital, and important item for their well-being — rather than unnecessary items of greed).

Nutrition

Therefore, it is not just the adventures in Five Children and It that we love and enjoy so much, it is also the building upon (or the learning experiences surrounding) these central morals.

Nevertheless, it is the adventures that we first and foremost love, wouldn’t you agree? And how wonderful they are! Mighty appealing to any child, I might add: the unorthodox inclusion of a monster-like fur-ball-of-a-fairy that speaks perfect English and once lived in the dinosaur age; the children’s becoming as beautiful as the day, but then going unnoticed by all those closest to them; their becoming rich with money that the townspeople, as they later learn, are unlikely to accept in transaction — also arising suspicions that could put them in jail; the children’s being granted beautiful wings and flying over rooftops only to fall victim to hunger and winding up stuck atop a church after losing their wings to the sunset; their defending a home-made castle from an invasion of colorful medieval warriors brandishing an assortment of deadly sharp weapons; Robert’s becoming of a giant and joining a fair as to make a short-lived profit — then having to devise a plan with Cyril in order to escape unharmed and unnoticed due to the giant-magic diminishing at sunset; and so on and so forth.

Giant

What makes this so appealing to a children audience?

Primarily, the very ambiguity, excitement, and thrill associated with the aspect of adventure. Also, the reader’s relatability and connection with the text (in this case, a child audience).

A child is neither completely good nor completely bad, which is quite evident in the characters of our heroines who exhibit thoughts, feelings, and emotions on both sides of the spectrum. Nesbit’s perception of a child is much different to that of the Victorian ‘ideal’ child; Nesbit details a more realistic version of the child — a common literary practice in the Edwardian period that begins (roughly) in the year 1901; it so happens to be that Five Children and It was first published the year after, in 1902, thus it could be argued that Nesbit had set the stone for (or aided in the development of) the Edwardian-Era image of the child.

With that said, the child reader is more likely to relate to our heroines if the characters are, in fact, actual (rather than perceived) children, increasing the legitimacy of the story — as if the story itself was written by a child. And as I noted above, a child is at most only ‘mostly good,’ and the adventures that entail our (cunning) heroines who, like actual children, steal, lie, sugar-coat, manipulate, fight, and escape trouble, among many other things, become believable in the sense that their involvement in fantastical matters are almost overlooked because they, themselves, are not the least bit made up. As we discussed in class, Nesbit gives fantasy a realistic reality by including close-to-home places and conventions of society; this, combined with the presence of ‘actual’ children rather than the ‘ideal’, makes this story evermore believable — enjoyable — to a child audience. When fantasy is made every effort to be written as believable, we, the readers, are more likely to submerge ourselves into the framework of the story, and forget most — if not all — of our knowledge of reality. Isn’t this why we read books in the first place? For an escape of  reality with characters and places we can relate to on an emotional, relatable level? This holds true even for the child reader of a children’s book.

child reading

There are perhaps a hundred or more reasons I could formulate as to why Five Children and It is such an enjoyable read to all who come across it. Personally, and quite obviously, I have enjoyed this book very much so, and I am privileged to have been given this opportunity to discover its many morals and adventures, and to behold the most realistic portrayal of children I have seen yet. I will, most certainly, be reading this to my children one distant and delightful day.

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Close Reading of a Peter Pan Passage

“‘I think I shall go back to mother,’ he said timidly.

‘Good-bye,’ replied Solomon Caw with a queer look.

But Peter hesitated. ‘Why don’t you go?’ the old one asked politely.

‘I suppose,’ said Peter huskily, ‘I suppose I can still fly?’

You see he had lost faith.

‘Poor little half-and-half!’ said Solomon, who was not really hard-hearted, ‘you will never be able to fly again, not even on windy days. You must live here on the island always.’

‘And never even go to the Kensington Gardens?’ Peter asked tragically.

‘How could you get across?’ said Solomon. He promised very kindly, however, to teach Peter as many of the bird ways as could be learned by one of such an awkward shape.

‘Then I shan’t be exactly a human? Peter asked.

‘No.’

‘Nor exactly a bird?’

‘No.’

‘What shall I be?’

‘You will be a Betwixt-and-Between,’ Solomon said” (16-17).

This passage from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, when analyzed, is found to supply us with a general portrayal of the entire novel. We see a boy named Peter Pan who, at first, longs for his mother, then realizes he can’t ever again fly. We further get a general idea of Barrie’s style of writing — the reader is also addressed directly using the word “you.” Finally, Peter Pan also learns from the very wise bird, Solomon, that he is neither human nor bird, but rather a “Betwixt-and-between.”

Firstly, we see an unsure Peter Pan; a little baby who’s only 1 week old (which is absurd — I shall get into that shortly) and has recently flew away from his mother’s company, already regretting his departure. Indeed, in the passage above, Peter Pan is very willing to go back, if only he was able to fly. Of course, Peter Pan lost faith in his ability to fly so he is never again able to do so. This, of course, is a powerful message that shows the empowerment of self-confidence and how crucial it is to be sure of yourself if you ever wish to conquer and accomplish your aspirations — or even your flaws. This is described earlier in the text just after Peter Pan flew from out his window, “It is wonderful that he could fly without wings, but the place itched tremendously, and–and–perhaps we could all fly if we were as dead-confident-sure of our capacity to do it as was bold Peter Pan that evening” (13). How beautiful is this? To be a child reading this line, the child would be consumed by wonder, amazement, and inspiration. Because I’m grown up and have been told repeatedly by others that I can’t “fly” among other things, the inspirational impact this line has on me is minimized, but I can only imagine its limitless impact on a young, fresh mind.

peter pan flying

Throughout life, more specifically in school, a child — any child — will be faced, one time or another, by people who tell that child that he or she cannot aspire to do certain things or be a certain somebody, and eventually the child will start questioning his or her own abilities, potential, and capacity. This is another reason why the Peter Pan series is such a classic; Peter Pan may be told now, by Solomon, that he will never again fly, but inevitably Peter Pan succeeds at just that and much much more! A book is a collection of mere thin pages and ink imprints, but the worlds that are detailed will take any reader on an incredible adventure that defies all the ifs and buts we are faced with in reality; another reason why fiction writing, in particular children’s literature, is essential to our society.

From this passage, we also get a feel for Barrie’s inclusion of the reader as a character in the story. he does this with the line, “You see he had lost faith,” which tells us directly (evermore emphasizing the importance of faith) and also asserts that this story is for “you,” and that this story was written by many of “you.” As we see in chapter 1, “The Grand Tour of the Gardens,” the narrator/writer of this novel is also a character in the story, “[The Kensington Gardens] are in London, where the King lives, and I used to take David there nearly every day” (3). The use of the personal pronoun, ‘I’, declares substance to the narrator, thus the use of ‘I’ and ‘you’ reenacts a sort of story telling involving a storyteller (I) and its audience (you); a situation where a child feels comfortable and delighted to have, perhaps a parents, sharing to them a story. Barrie further captures the heart and attention of the child reader through his inclusion of David as a character in the story; though, he is the most relatable character because David is also joining in on the listening of the story — Barrie even taking it one step further by having David as an accompanying storyteller in which the story manifests from both the adult narrator’s perspective and that of a child’s (David),

“I ought to mention here that the following is our way with a story: First I tell it to him, and then he tells it to me, the understanding being that it is quite a different story; and then I retell it with his additions, and so we go on until no one could say whether it is more his story or mine” (13).

Mother and Daughter Reading Together

The intended audience being a child reader, thus the inclusion of a child’s voice in helping tell the story gives it more authenticity than most other texts of children’s literature.

Finally, as we see in the passage above, Peter Pan learns from the very wise bird, Solomon, that he is neither human nor bird, but rather a “Betwixt-and-between.” Peter Pan is seemingly incapable of declaring his identity. This absence of identity is discussed in this week’s assigned essay, “The Riddle of His Being: An Exploration of Peter Pan’s Perpetually Altering State,”

“Peter Pan changes shape and position so often that he is uncertain about his identity. Wendy is the first to ask Peter Pan what he is but he cannot answer. His responses to Wendy’s question are vague and abstract” (McGavock).

This brings me back to Peter Pan’s absurd age of only 1 week old. This also brings me to many questions such as: how is Peter Pan so intelligent at so young an age? How is he able to speak nearly perfect English so fluently? How does he know braveness but not fear? Such observations baffle me, and I am forced to categorize such as the work of fiction; not to be questioned. It is believable that because of his young age that he is unable to see himself as human when he was so recently a bird, but these matters of self-identity and self-discovering are usually associated with teens and young adults who are trying to find out who they are (it was only until recently until I discovered such myself!). Poor Peter Pan, I wish him all the best, but for a boy of 1 week old who will never grow up… I pity him; though, I envy all his faith through his adventures — and many at that.

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The Motif of Corrective and Confusing Speech

In Carroll’s Through The Looking-Glass, as well as his first book, there is a consistency of characters questioning everything Alice says, or correcting her; more so in Through The Looking-Glass, I find. It is a motif that spans both stories to the very end, and, for me at least, can make me nauseous at times, due to the literalness and word-picky characters in his stories. For poor Alice, I hardly know how she bears with it all, constantly having her words and sentences reevaluated and given meanings she hadn’t first meant, then being told that she should have said what she meant; which I’m sure, if she had said exactly what she meant, it would have been questioned and evaluated just as harsh.

Some major instances of this motif in Carroll’s Through The Looking-Glass are the scenes when Alice meets the red queen, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the white queen, and Humpty Dumpty.

With the red queen, Alice says that she lost her way, in which the queen replies, “‘I don’t know what you mean by your way,’ said the Queen: ‘all the ways about her belong to me.'” For poor Alice, such a reply would be considered extremely rude an outbreak, especially in the social aspects of England at the time. Alice is simply saying a normal utterance: that she lost her way. Like most all the people of Wonderland and in the Looking-Glass, the red queen takes this literal, and, because she is a queen (and very ignorant, I may add), she automatically assumes Alice is claiming that all the ways are her’s.

red queen

Tweedledum and Tweedledee are much worse to her though, suggesting that, because the red king is perhaps dreaming of Alice, that she doesn’t really exist — that she couldn’t exist in two places at once. Instead of messing with the very words she speaks, they mess around with her logic, convincing her, to a point, that she is not real!

“‘And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you’d be?’

‘Where I am now, of course,’ said Alice.

‘Not you!’ Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. ‘You’d be nowhere. Why, you’re only a sort of thing in his dream!’

‘If that there King was to wake,’ added Tweedledum, ‘you’d go out–bang!–just like a candle!'”

Poor Alice, this even provokes tears in her eyes. This is a clear example of the cruel nature of the characters in Carroll’s books; perhaps they don’t mean to be cruel, since their logic is based off of nonsense and a common theme: that we rely so much on language to convey meaning to everything, that if those meanings are meddled or messed with, our existence shrivels up to the size of a useless, slugging snail.

The last scene I want to note, is that of Alice meeting Humpty Dumpty, who may just be the worst of them all, in terms of messing with Alice’s words. When Alice tells Humpty Dumpty her name, he follows with, “‘It’s a stupid name enough!'” Then asks what it means. Of course, Alice doesn’t understand why a name must mean something. Humpty Dumpty declares that it does, in fact; that his own name describes his own shape and good looks quite well. Similarly, Alice tells him her age, “‘Seven years and six months.'” Humpty Dumpty, of course, tells her that she’s wrong, that if he meant how old she was (which he pretty much did), then he would have said it. Then he says that her age is better left off at seven, then further messes with her words.

humpty-dumpty

Poor Alice, such interactions could make one go mad. Clearly, Carroll meant all this upon the reader; it creates an atmosphere of nonsense, which is entertaining to children because it can be funny at times, and they don’t have to use much of their brain to get it. For me, I find it entertaining but at the same time, a bit angry at the characters and wanting to put an end to their nonsense, for some of it is so uncalled for. This is the motif in Carroll’s books. It works. It is original. It is a classic, with an everlasting place in our society.

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Character Analysis of Pinocchio

It is easy to say that, although Pinocchio is not a real boy until the end of the story, he definitely resembles one inside and, for the most part, out as well. As we discussed in class, although Collodi never had children of his own, he writes Pinocchio almost with expertise in the field of boys’ behavior, as if having years of experience. What distinguishes the puppet to a real boy, besides obvious physical characteristics, is his naughtiness and foolishness. Like 99.9% of young children, Pinocchio was born (he, an enchanted wood) not knowing any manners, virtues, or morals. The entirety of the story centers on Pinocchio’s adventures throughout the many surrounding lands, and how he progressively develops good conduct and moral principles. At first we see Pinocchio as this selfish puppet character who kicks his creator Geppetto’s nose after his feet are carved, squishes a cricket who is out to help him, and sells his primer that his father bought him for school with the money he got from selling his own old coat. Much later on, after many lessons are learned from numerous fun and/or cruel adventures, we see Pinocchio’s will and determination as strong as the very wood that composes his body: such that when Pinocchio and his father, Geppetto, enter the cricket’s cottage after escaping the stomach of the shark. Here, we see a caring and compassionate Pinocchio making “a good bed of straw for old Geppetto,” and then asking the talking cricket, “‘Tell me, cricket, where can I get a cup of milk for my poor father?'” Then, not soon after, Pinocchio is working hard turning Giangio’s windlass, “Pinocchio started at once, but before he could draw the hundred buckets of water he was perspiring from head to foot. He had never worked like that before.” This was in fact true, as earlier on we see him in Busy Bee town (after being told of it by the dolphin) where he was “terribly hungry” for not having eaten “more than twenty-four hours.” Here, we see just how money and food is earned by hard work, as Pinocchio begs to many passers-by who offer him double, triple, and even quintuple the penny he is asking for, but only if he is willing to aid them in carrying their merchandise. Of course, Pinocchio refuses for he is very lazy, and ultimately agrees to a kind little woman who offers him copious amounts of food. It is evident that the Pinocchio who would turn down even five pennies–as opposed to just one–despite how hungry he is, is not even recognizable as the same Pinocchio who later cares for his father, “From that day, for over five months, he got up before dawn every morning to turn the windlass, so as to earn the cup of milk for his father,” and, “Learned how to weave baskets of reeds,” which he sold.

pinnochio

Besides developing into a more determined, selfless puppet with moral values–and then ultimately turning into a real boy, Pinocchio also learns a lot about reality and its evil truths. Not only does Pinocchio experience the hardships associated with the lessons that make him into a real, good boy, but he also experiences firsthand what evils and dangers the world has to offer. His first encounter with the nastiness of people is when Pinocchio is seen, very early in the story, begging an old man who is peeping out from his window. The old man who promises Pinocchio some bread reappears with “a great kettle of water” that he pours on poor Pinocchio. Not only does Pinocchio witness lying and deceit, but also experiences harassment. His next experience with life’s evil truths occurs when Pinocchio encounters the Great Puppet Show and sees his puppet brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, it comes with a price when the Showman, Fire-eater, punishes Pinocchio for disturbing his theater by threatening to throw him into his fire–a horrible death for a little boy, wouldn’t you say? Luckily he shows pity, combined with contradicting, immediate will for manslaughter (or in this case, dealing with live puppets), then threatens to burn one of Pinocchio’s brothers, Harlequin, with the same fate–luckily exerting pity once again. Here, the young Pinocchio faces his very death in a gruesome and terrifying way, getting caught in a predicament that would surely leave a scar and an imprint upon a child’s mind for most of his or her life. Next (and most certainly not the last), Pinocchio is tricked by the fox and the cat in following them to a field where money supposedly grows into a money-bearing tree. The young and naive Pinocchio has not yet developed the ability to judge or analyze lies and deceit, so he follows through with their plan, ultimately getting mauled by the duo, which luckily has little effect on Pinocchio since he is made of wood, “Then the smaller assassin drew a horrid knife, and tried to force it between his lips, like a chisel, but Pinocchio, quick as lightning, bit off his hand and spat it out.” Such series of events would be horrific upon a human child. A knife would sure rupture the child’s lips and possibly lead to death. When the assassins catch Pinocchio once again, they hang him on a branch of a big oak tree, which would surely kill a human child almost instantly. It is with this that Pinocchio develops understanding of life’s true and vivid evils that exist within the world. He learns, at least in part, to arise suspicions as to prevent such a similar situation from happening again. Near the end of the book, we see Pinocchio encountering the fox and the cat yet again, only this time he sees right through them,

“‘Oh, Pinocchio,’ sobbed the fox, ‘give something to two poor invalids.’

‘Invalids,’ repeated the cat.

‘Good-bye, scoundrels!’ answered the puppet. ‘You cheated me once, but you never will again.'”

fox

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The Water-Babies To Be Read By Children? Come On Now…

Let us be real. Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies may have centered on the entertaining of a child’s imagination, but within this literature there are numerous points to be made, prejudices, opinionated societal viewpoints, and many other subliminal messages (among very obvious messages) that the average child would not even begin to understand or even have the competence to know whereof to begin–yet alone the average adult.  Many of these messages are signaled to ethnic groups such as blacks or Irish, or “professionals” in the areas of education and medication. Such can be seen when Kingsley satirizes the doctors of his day in response to Professor Ptthmllnsprts’s sudden mental illness, “So all the doctors in the county were called in to make a report on his case; and of course every one of them flatly contradicted the other: else what use is there in being men of science? But at last the majority agreed on a report in the true medical language, one half bad Latin, the other half worse Greek, and the rest what might have been English, if they had only learnt to write it.” Here he shows the clumsiness of “men in science” and how they are always out to disprove one another in argument, using their ridiculous and complicated medical language, in which he further satirizes by presenting the reader with a sophisticated fabrication of long jumbled words to describe the professor’s illness–satirizing onwards by having My (His) Lady react in a shocking manner in response to the sophisticated medical vocabulary, then having Sir John “write to the TIMES to command the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the time being to put a tax on long words.” But it didn’t end there, for Kingsley went on to list all of the “stupid” and endless “remedies” that could have been used by doctors in hopes to cure the Professor’s illness; of course, none of the cures accomplishing the slightest of anything, which is of course one of Kingsley’s arguments. Eventually, the only successful cure became none other than writing–where the Professor begins writing about the moon being made of green cheese and birthing babies.

green cheese moon

Although I found many parts of Kingsley’s rant-like rambling (aforementioned above) quite entertaining and comical, it still yet seems to be no commonplace for Children’s Literature. Sure, the images of a nonsensical medical diagnosis with extensive vocabulary, an assortment of absurd remedies for treatment of the professor’s absurd condition, and a moon made of green cheese with millions of crawling babies all does seem quite normal for a children’s story and the entertaining of a child’s imagination; but, the path towards each image is, at times, unclear and too astray for a child to understand–yet alone an adult. The reader comes upon the scene of Tom (as a water-baby) being seen, clear as day, by the skeptical professor and the faithful Ellie, and thus a fairy manipulating the professor’s mind as to not reveal speculation of the water babies’ existence. With these images being quite clear to any reader, Kingsley persists with one of his “moments”, as I call them, where he elaborates on some social characteristic or, as in this case, a satirical allegory. Now, a child reading this will most certainly enjoy the images that are presented thereof; yet still may be so far off topic as to where the reader forgets how things even led up to, persay, a scientific explanation as to why babies could not exist on the moon, ” …It cannot be cold enough there about four o’clock in the morning to condense the babies’ mesenteric apophthegms into their left ventricles; and, therefore, they can never catch the hooping-cough; and if they do not have hooping-cough, they cannot be babies at all; and, therefore, there are no babies in the moon.”

…I rest my case.

Anyhow, another segment of the story that evermore convinces me that The Water-Babies isn’t designated towards an audience befitting children is another one of Kingsley’s “moments” of stray thoughts heading closer and closer into oncoming traffic (as I like to relate it). Here, Kingsley engages the reader upon the idea of the Water-babies. He neither tries to approve or disprove of them; though, he surely tries to legitimize the idea, but still reminds the reader of such superstitions that do arise in any and all fairy tales, “Don’t you know that this is a fairy tale, and all fun and pretence; and that you are not to believe one word of it, even if it is true?” But his argument is that, even though told as a fairy tale, water-babies may still thrive and dwell upon our world; nobody can readily discount the possibility of water-babies existing in all actuality. His reasons for so, I believe, are not all completely fit for being read by children, as they would be lucky to understand even half of his argument–which persists for an incredible ten paragraphs or so. First, he goes on about well-known professors and how, however much they know of nature, cannot disprove something that has not yet been seen or discovered (and he certainly emphasizes the word ‘cannot’, and how vile it is to make such a judgment): “And therefore it is, that there are dozens and hundreds of things in the world which we should certainly have said were contrary to nature, if we did not see them going on under our eyes all day long.”

babies

He continues to go on about how little seeds can grow to big trees, how an elephant at first discovery would go against previous  conceptions of “comparative anatomy”, how “flying dragons” were thought to only be myth and legend until skeletal remains of pterodactyls began appearing in dig sites, and how almost all that lives and dwells on land has a similar or almost exact comparison in water or in ocean. Then, he goes on about transformations found in nature such that as the butterfly, and how a human could, in all possibility, submit to the same transformations–such that as a land-baby’s metamorphosis into a water-baby.

All in all, I feel that Kingsley goes into too much depth when writing The Water-Babies. In contrast, the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales would have only spent at most two lines on the legitimacy of such a creature, as to make quick sense to a child and thus commit more time and detail to the actual story and its plot. Nevertheless, I find The Water-Babies to be a fantastic story and a unique glimpse back into historical perceptions, values, and descriptions of the natural world. Although I wouldn’t recommend this story to be read by “land-babies”, I highly encourage young and old adults alike to read this story–so long as they’re willing to succumb to such scattered thoughts and impressive imaginings as Kingsley’s.

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Hi, I’m NOT Peter Pan, But I AM Aaron Peter P.

Hello there,

I’m Aaron of course; Aaron Peter P.; Aaron Pirkkala; but they all mean close to the same thing: just Me. You may not know Me (and I’m only just now sort of figuring out myself as well), but I will tell you only remotely as to what I have so far discovered:

I am a writer at heart. I adore writing as an escape to all the world’s worries and woes, allowing my quirky imagination to run its daily exercise (though, in doing so, I myself haven’t exercised in forever).

Anyways, so I love to write–not the biggest of surprises, as we are all in a children’s literature class, which takes me to my next point…

I’m not an avid reader. The only time in my life when reading was prevalent and routine was in 5th grade, due to a competition that my 5th grade teacher held for the class–and this fellow classmate of mine who loved and loved to read and read all day was taking all the glory (and stubborn Me cannot suffice to being outsmarted and outnumbered [competition was based on the conglomerate of pages read] by someone in my age-group, my grade-level, and in my class). So I battled her for many nights and days on end. Words began to slip upon words, sentences began tripping on other sentences–sometimes skipping to lines and lines below, and pages would somehow leave splinters upon my tongue. But I didn’t care, and in the end… I think I won? Or we both came close–I’m not sure. But I use this example in order for you to understand that: I am both stubborn and hard headed, for I will read only when forced to (even if I am being forced to read voluntarily for a class-held competition).

Don’t be mistaken though, for I do enjoy reading… once again. Only recently upon my attendance to UF, due to the English courses that I’ve been taking, I have regained a once acquainted love for reading–for my Beginning Fiction Writing teacher last semester many times said to me, “It is a shame you do not read! You have so much potential. You write very well!” And with that, I promised him to read to my best potential. By taking the Golden Age to Children’s Literature, I’m going to be forced to read lots and lots: stories that remind me of the childhood days–though, in my childhood I never took the time to read them. Stories of fantasy and far-off adventures that provide humanity with an escape from humanity, and provide children with increasingly cherished childhoods (And I’m quite the child myself).

And so it goes without saying (at least, repeating), that this class will not only force me to read pages and pages of lovely children’s fiction (and once again prevent me from my New Year’s resolution of adequate exercise), but will also aid in my passion for writing, as I intend to be a publishing author of, not only children’s novels, but of novels that everyone in all ranges of age, intelligence, and diversity, as well as all intensities of escape-envy- and story-hungry souls can consume time and time again; better said, to write a masterpiece such as that of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Chronicles of Narnia, or The Lord of the Rings would be a career worth creating and a life worth living (within a world worth wondering).

So with that said, you probably know a lot more about me; though, I haven’t quite hit the climax. You see, I have many philosophies. Many many. All appropriate. And all of which I intend to distill throughout future novels that I write. For I fear that too many people live too seriously within the world. Too many people look at tomorrow with pessimism and insecurity and almost always neglect all the great and positive things that are going for them; overlooking what one does in fact have rather than what one lacks. In doing so, people themselves are the cause of many of their own troubles–much of their sadness resulting from their low-down look at the world and their current status as well as their pessimistic perception of what the future has–for them–in store.

Why am I telling you this?

To get to know a bit more about me… I am an optimistic. And one of the main reasons why I wish to be a writer in this lifetime and the next is to convey to others a life worth living within the life they are already living. Beauty almost always goes missed in the world, or will very blindly be treated as “ugly.” And what “ugly” does exist–exists only in the mind of the beholder; the mind of the creator who assumed such “ugliness.”

Anyways, now you know some more about Me–or Aaron Peter P. To sum it up:

  • I’m stubborn
  • I like to write
  • I’m not an avid reader
  • I am taking this class to grow as a reader and writer as well as to expand my imagination
  • One day I shall be a novelist
  • My dream is to construct classics
  • I live primarily for others
  • I have many essentially-positive philosophies in which I live by

Here are some links I treasure

Because the beauty of trees inspires both my imagination and thrill for adventure, here are amazing photographs of leaves and bark, with links to some very exquisite photographs of trees at the very bottom of the page:

Leaves and Bark

And here is a link worth exploring–in all its exoticism. Beautiful and breathtaking birds:

Exotic Birds

Picture time!

Me cleaning up trash on a Ft. Lauderdale beach

Me striking a very epic pose whilst cleaning up trash on a Ft. Lauderdale beach

And this is me attempting to be a Hipster

And this is me attempting to be a Hipster

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