This is the picture I recall being inside children's books of yesterday, not much like the books I’m coming across today. It’s almost like day and night. In fact, I’m finding many of the books of the yesteryears either has been rewritten, or no longer are in print.
Those that stand out are The Three Little Pigs. I was lukewarm on this one. Cute story, but what did I know, or would ever know about building a house? Even at four it was unbelievable. How likely was it that a wolf would ever be able to blow down a house?
Goldilocks and the Three Bears, I used to love this one. Can’t remember why, but I preferred this one being read to me over the others. Little Red Riding Hood I didn’t care for too much. That wolf in the bed in place of Grandma, didn’t like it.
The Teeny Tiny Woman was the creepiest story of them all. Maybe it was the way my mother enjoyed reading in that creepy voice, “Give Me My Bone!” This one gave me nightmares! Now I’m seeing many *new* versions of this Teeny Tiny Woman, nothing like what I remember!
Jack and the Beanstalk, another unsettling tale. Pinocchio, don’t lie or people will know because your nose will grow. Didn’t like it. Hansel and Gretel, now this one was so unnerving and I just didn’t know why until recently when I read the original story. Humpty Dumpty, the kids in class used to ‘crack up' at this one. The Little Engine that Could was soothing. It was one of the better tales. And Cinderella I would have to say was a favorite. Here’s a girl with raw beauty being mistreated and pushed aside by evil twisted women, but ends up getting the biggest prize. Loved it!
But after being introduced to these types of stories, relaying surly underlying morals, it’s no wonder (as a child) that I gravitated right over to ‘the big books’ without so much as pausing to check out the juvenile section. Occasionally my mother used to look down at me while I was reading one of my big thick books and ask, “what in the world are you reading?” I guess she saw the dripping blood and the eye of a strangler on the cover. But, “oh nothing,” would be my tranquil unruffled reply.
Now today we have little Ruby Booker books to charm us with her little creative go-getter spirit, and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, another small-big treat of a comical little guy that has moved to the big screen, and Happy to Be Nappy – adorable, and toot for the Peek-a WHO? – too cute, and Word After Word After Word…now this one I’ve got to get.
I’m really coming to enjoy the great mix of books available to children. The art and colorful covers are powerful without being menacing, and brilliant. No more creepy covers, or rather, characters. The themes of the stories are quite creative and imaginative too. The nightmarish scare tactics now all gone. Some books today even explore new ways of thinking, unleashing anecdotes of wisdom here and there. I must admit however, the shock value in books of yesterday taught valuable life-long lessons in a way not easy to forget. The ‘moral of the story’ I picked up in those old timers, was planning. In almost every one of the older books I was reminded to think about what could happen if…fill in the blank…which motivated me in a way that a polite nudge may have never done, to always think ahead (& Out of the Box) in whatever I was about to do – Planning.