Since Aura started reading illustrated books on her own a while ago, Adam and I decided to start reading her chapter books at bedtime. It’s been an…enlightening experience. I have much to say on the subject, but for now, allow me to cast a modern parenting eye on four classics from my childhood.
The Chocolate Touch
How I felt about it when I was a child: I loved it. I saw nothing wrong with having everything I touched turn to chocolate. I aspired to it, actually. A lot. Things got uncomfortable when my mother found me frequently and determinedly tapping random pieces of furniture (it’s important to Think Big, like a sofa), but whatevs.
How I feel about it now: I still love it, though I now find the part about the main character accidentally turning his mother to chocolate to be mildly troublesome.
How Aura feels about it: Rather pragmatically. She explained that while she would not ideally have me turn into chocolate forever, she would see nothing wrong with eating me if she could not reverse the magic. I’m thinking this is called “nonlinear matricide” in certain really scary legal circles.
Overall, how book has aged: It’s a bit dated. For instance, little John Midas’s mother spends an awful lot of time in the kitchen. COOKING, if you can believe it.
Suggestion for modernization: Inclusion of South Beach diet suggestions. Maybe some stevia, here and there.
How I felt about it when I was a child: I adored it. I dreamed of also temporarily living in a Villa Villekula with a monkey named Mr. Nilsson. (And with that, cue the Dirty Spam Comments. COME TO ME.)
How I feel about it now: Maternal experience causes me a few twinges of worries for Pippi. There’s never mention of a bath. Or a single stalk of asparagus.
How Aura feels about it: She’s head over heels with Pippi and now wants to be covered with freckles. She usually expresses this wish right as I’m whipping out my own waxing strips and skin fading cream.
Overall, how book has aged: Mentions of the “native” subjects of Pippi’s missing “cannibal king” father do lead to some questions from a five-year-old, who, the more I think about it, is starting to seem rather aloof about eating other humans.
Suggestion for modernization: Some kind of keratin treatment. Also, an epilogue with a link to that episode of South Park. You know the one. (I CAN’T HELP IT ADAM MAKES ME WATCH IT TOTALLY BLAMELESS)
The B.F.G. (Big Friendly Giant)
How I felt about it when I was a child: Somehow I missed this Dahl masterpiece in my youth (oh, The Witches, how I loved you), but Adam didn’t.
How I feel about it now: I like it. It has its waxing and waning philosophical moments, as do all Dahl books. I could do with a tad less description of bone crunching and flesh eating, but I’m also a very delicate flower.
How Aura feels about it: Hmm. “Obsessed” seems a strong word choice for a five-year-old, but…yeah. Going with obsessed. All the way. Everything is now described as “giant.” Giant Clouds! Giant Dogs! And during one near-coronary moment, Giant Spider!
Overall, how book has aged: According to Adam, it has aged wonderfully. Then again, Adam has been known to declare worthless any music produced after 1997. I’m fairly certain he’d leave me for Soundgarden and Alice in Chains if they asked. Or even if they didn’t.
Suggestion for modernization: Occupy Giantland. With really, really big tents.
Hansel and Gretel
How I felt about it when I was a child: AAAAHHHH
How I feel about it now: AAAAHHHH LEFT ALONE IN THE WOODS
How Aura feels about it: AAAAHHHH
Overall, how book has aged: AAAAHHHH STILL ALONE IN THE WOODS
Suggestion for modernization: BURN IT