Classic Children's Literature · RAL · Reading · The Classics Club

Coming Soon: Classic Children’s Lit Event, 5

2017-ral-original

I’ve been more absent from here lately than I’d like–it seems like February is just a month that I don’t get along with. But now it’s March, the sun is shinning (and it’s supposed to be half-way warm this week!), and that means the 5th edition of the Classic Children’s Literature Event is just around the corner: April–less than a month away! I can’t believe this is the 5th year.

alice-original

As in years past, I will be reading an optional readalong title. I really waffled over what to pick this year, but finally opted for one of the runners up from last year’s poll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s been many, many years since I last/first read this–I believe in fourth grade, so I don’t remember it all that well other than that’s is odd, something that must surely appeal to many, as evidenced by the recent movie adaptations (confession: I haven’t actually seen them). Although I have an illustrated version that also contains Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, I decided to pick up The Annotated Alice from the library. Still a coin toss as to which book I’ll read from.

Event Basics

  • During the month of April, read as many Children’s Classics as you wish and post about them on your blog and/or leave a comment on the event page on this blog. I will have a link page starting the first of April to gather posts so that we may share as we go.
  • The optional RAL title: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. (Optional: also read Through the Looking-Glass. I’m guessing I won’t get through both.) I plan on discussion the weekend of April 21-23.
  • I’m not going to be the “children’s classics” police. Use your own judgement for what fits the category but if you want some guidelines, these are what I’m going by:
    • I think many of us have read more recent children’s books that we may already deem “classics” (for example, many people feel that way about the Harry Potter books), but for this event, I’d prefer if we read books that were written prior to 1967. This will still allow a lot of options, and will hopefully avoid the “but what is a classic” dilemma! (And yes, 1967 is rather arbitrary. Rebel if you wish, but 50 years old seems a good age.)
    • Defining “children’s,” especially prior to 1900 or so can be a challenge as some books we think of as “children’s” today may not have been intended that way at the time. Personally, I’d say books appropriate for approximately an elementary-school aged child or preteen (to read or to have read to them) should be fine. I’d personally also count the various fairy tales, even though some of the earliest versions were not exactly family friendly.
    • Feel free to include books from any country, in translation or not. I have limited exposure to non-American children’s lit, so I’d love to learn about books from other countries myself.
    • Feel free to double up with other events or challenges if you wish.
  • And if you need ideas I posted
  • There is no deadline for joining or participating (other than, of course, the end of April).

Most important: Have fun!

Please let me–and other participants–know in the comments of this post if you are interested in participating, and let me know if you have any questions. Also, please feel free to use any of the event/RAL images on your own blogs.

Classic Children's Literature Event April 2017 300px

Classic Children's Literature Event April 2017 250px

Classic Children's Literature Event April 2017 200px

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland RAL April 2017 300px

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland RAL April 2017 250px

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland RAL April 2017 200px

Happy reading!

Participants:

Image sources: The event logo illustration is “Merry Christmas” from The Way to Wonderland (1917, Mary Stewart), illustrated  by Jessie Wilcox Smith (1863-1935). The RAL logo illustration is from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865, Lewis Carroll), 1907 edition illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939).

Classic Children's Literature · RAL

Completed: Emil and the Detectives

Emil and the DetectivesEmil and the Detectives [Emil und die Detektive]
Erich Kästner
(1929, Germany)
Eileen Hall, translator
Walter Trier, illustrations

’Oh he’ll like Berlin, I’m sure of that,’ declared Mrs. Wirth from the depths of the wash-basin. ‘It’s just made of children. We went there the year before last for the skittle club outing. My word, but it’s a noisy place! Do you know—some of the streets were as light at night as during the day. And the traffic! My, what a lot of cars!’ (Chapter 1)

Emil and the Detectives starts out deceptively, Emil carrying the water jug and his mother washing her client’s hair—a scene of domestic tranquility, nothing of adventures in sight. Yet this opening chapter, slow by current standards, is our introduction to Emil and his character: he is obedient and polite, determined to do right by his mother. Which is why it is so important to Emil, when the one thing she warns him against happens, losing the money she gives him for his grandmother, that he make it right. Especially since he feels particularly wronged; he didn’t lose the money, it was stolen from him after he fell asleep on the train, despite all his precautions, both to protect the money and stay awake. It is from this point that the story takes off; Emil soon meets up with a group of boys who upon learning his story are only too happy to help him chase down and trap the thief. His cousin, Pony, the only girl in the story, makes occasional appearances with her new bike—which she is only too eager to show off—functioning as messenger or go-between with Emil’s adult relatives. We also see other aspects of Emil’s character–his determination to right a wrong, a bit of temper (he nearly fights the first boy he meets), and a hint of mischief: he believes he can’t go to the police, because he chalked a statue at home and believes the Berlin police will surely learn of it and accuse him of stealing the money!

I’m really not quite sure what I expected from this classic from 1920s Germany. Perhaps more of a mystery, but the detective work in this story is tailing a known suspect, not discovering “whodunit.” Of course, this makes for an exciting adventure, and the reader never really cares that we know the thief already or that we feel fairly assured of a positive outcome. After all, there are still plenty of twists and turns and we can’t be sure, exactly, how the boys will manager to confront the thief and reclaim Emil’s money.

A German writer, Kästner would some years after writing this children’s tale watch the Nazis burn many of his books, including the sequel Emil and the Three Twins. But they didn’t include Emil and the Detectives, in part because of of its popularity. It’s been adapted for several film versions, including multiple German versions and the 1964 Disney adaptation, as well as a UK stage production.

Emil and the Detectives Readalong April 2016 - 300px wide

As well as reading this for the readalong, it also counts as one of my titles for the Books in Translation Challenge 2016.

RAL · Reading

The Pickwick Papers, Chapters 1-2

Button: The Pickwick Papers Read-Along
The Pickwick Papers
Charles Dickens
Chapters 1-2, March 1836

I knew little about The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club when I signed up to join O’s read-along, mostly that they were favorites of the March girls in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women—ah, the joys of following a path from one book to the next. For this read-along, I will be doing something a little different than I usually do: writing a little about each section, mostly plot summery. (Else, I’m afraid I’ll forget what I’ve read between sections.)

It would appear from the first two chapters, the March 1836/2016 portion, that we are in for a humorous book, perhaps a satire. I would have to know more of Victorian English life on this last to be certain. But certainly, if it carries on as it begins, it will be quite the diverting—if perhaps a bit lengthy—story.

Chapter 1 was admittedly a bit of a slow start. It appears that there is a conceit (thus the “Posthumous Papers”) that this story is compiled by an unidentified editor, presumably Mr. Dickens, from a collection of papers belonging to the Pickwick Club and its members. The stylized introduction of this conceit—in the form of meeting minutes—is not the gentlest introduction to what soon appears to be, based at this point solely on chapter 2, an episodic “adventure” story. Or at least as much adventure as a group of four English gentlemen who appear fonder of food and drink than action can get up to. Chapter 1 forms the introduction, recounting the meeting at which the formation of our company of four, Mr. Samuel Pickwick (founder of the society), Mr. Tracy Tupman (fond of the ladies), Mr. Augustus Snodgrass (poetic), and Mr. Nathaniel Winkle (sporting), is announced and of their determination to travel and report back to the larger Pickwick Club “…authenticated accounts of their journeys and investigations; of their observations of character and manners; and of the whole of their adventures, together with all tales and papers, to which local scenery or associations may give rise…”

Still he could not but feel that they had selected him for a service of great honor, and of some danger. Traveling was in a troubled state, and the minds of coachmen were unsettled. Let them look abroad, and contemplate the scenes which were enacting around them. Stage coaches were upsetting in all directions, horses were bolting, boats were overturning, and boilers were bursting.

The second chapter relates of the first episodes of their adventures. And if it is anything to go by, there will be quite a bit of trouble in store for the quartet. They haven’t even left London, when a cabbie, suspicious of Mr. Pickwick’s questions and notebook, accuses them of being “informers”and starts a fight. They are rescued by a stranger who offers no name, but who happens to be traveling the same way they are, and after sharing the carriage to Rochester with the talkative stranger, they invite him to dinner. A dinner with many tales and copious amounts of wine follows.

[Mr. Pickwick] had gradually passed through the various stages which precede the lethargy produced by dinner, and its consequences. He had under gone the ordinary transitions from the height of conviviality to the depths of misery, and from the depths of misery to the height of conviviality. Like a gas lamp in the street, with the wind in the pipe, he had exhibited for a moment an unnatural brilliancy; then sunk so low as to be scarcely discernible; after a short interval, he had burst out again, to enlighten for a moment, then flickered with an uncertain, staggering sort of light, and then gone out altogether.

The others asleep, Mr. Tupman and the stranger ascend to the ballroom for a charity event, their entries both paid for by Mr. Tupman, and a suit provided for the stranger by the sleeping, and unknowing, Mr. Winkle. All is well until the stranger offends a local Dr. Slammer by dancing with the wealthy widow the doctor is courting. While the stranger seems to laugh off the whole event, the next morning a messenger for the doctor arrives at the hotel. Believing Mr. Winkle to be the offending party, on account of his distinct coat, the messenger informs Mr. Winkle that if he will not offer a written apology, he must instead duel the doctor. As a matter of honor, Mr. Winkle agrees to the duel—despite not knowing what is it about. Mr. Snodgrass will serve as second. They head off that afternoon to the dueling site and just as it is ready to start, the doctor calls it off—Mr. Winkle is the wrong man! All part as friends, with an invitation to meet again late that evening. But we are left with the tantalizing hint that when the doctor meets Mr. Winkle’s friend Mr. Tupman—who was, it must be remembered, with the stranger at the ball—all may not be well. Thus ends the chapter.

I am, I must admit, more excited to read the next section than I thought I would be on starting the novel. The story is so over-the-top as to bring more than one smile of amusement, and I find that I am quite curious as to the result of Dr. Slammer’s formal introduction to Mr. Tupman!

Once Upon a Time · RAL · Reading

Anticipating April….and May….and June…and…

I was just updating podcasts to my iPod and thinking, “oh, I’m nearly caught up with my favorite podcast – I’m almost to November,” when it dawned on me: my brain is still stuck in January, even while it’s March all around.

Spring Squills - 2016

We’ve had an unbelievably mild winter (although, cruelly, there were snowflakes falling on this first day of spring), but it is still nice to welcome in the spring blooms and longer days.

And with spring, my mind turns to spring reads. This past week, after reading a number of “books I’m looking forward to this spring” and “here’s what I’m reading for April’s Classic Children’s Literature Event” posts, I thought, “hey I need to do one of those!” So here goes:

Spring 2016 Reads

From the top:

  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, and The Tailor of Glouscester – I’ve been wanting to revisit Beatrix Potter for a while, such delightful and charmingly illustrated tales, and what better time than for the Children’s Event?
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream – I’ve been wanting to read this in June for years
  • The Jungle Book – I have long had a fondness for the tale “‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,'” but I’ve never read any of the rest. Long overdue!
  • Pedro Páramo – my Classics Club spin selection
  • Titus Andronicus – the next Shakespeare selection on my list for this year
  • Selected Poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar – I’ve slowly, slowly working through this and vow to finish by the end of April – poetry month!
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – I’m hoping it’s as amusing as the premise sounds. It’s one of the many books on my shelves that I’ve decided I must simply get read sooner rather than later.
  • Bleak House (vol. 1 of 2) – Well, a start.
  • The Sound and the Fury – another I’ve started, but have since been distracted from
  • Emil and the Detectives – the readalong title, of course!
  • The Complete Stories of Paul Laurence Dunbar – I don’t intend to read the whole thing at this point, but I’ve started with Dunbar’s first story collection Folks from Dixie. This, and the Selected Poems above are both part of my Ohio project.

And this assumes of course, that some other distraction–or other blogger’s list–doesn’t catch my eye! On the other hand, if the reading goes well, I may add another title or two to the Children’s Classics list, most likely Part 2 of Little Women (in my edition, Good Wives in other places). Of course, the list above may give you a clue that I’m joining in some other events, despite all my busyness (I’m pretty sure that I’m piling on the books as a knee-jerk response to the fact that I can’t keep up at work either – might as well fail spectacularly at everything all at once!)

Button: Poetry Month Celebration at The Edge of the Precipice

Cleo’s been a terrible temptress of late, but I won’t blame her for letting me know about the Poetry Month Celebration at The Edge of the Precipice. No, I’m happy to have an outside incentive (besides library due dates) to finish the Dunbar poems. For that matter, I believe that The Jungle Book has some poetry as well.

Button: The Pickwick Papers Read-Along

But even before that, O’s Pickwick Papers Read-Along begins. A nice, slow, long term one, it seems totally doable as long as I remember to read for it!

Button: Once Upon a Time X (art by Melissa Nucera https://www.etsy.com/people/ThisYearsGirl)

And of course, I have to participate in Once Upon a Time! Even when I’m not planning on it, the pretty artwork (this year by Melissa Nucera) reels me in every year. I’m not sure what I’m reading, other than A Midsummer Night’s Dream (although there are some rereads I’m eyeing), so I’m only planning on participating in “The Journey,” which is just one book (or more…) Of course, if I were to pick up some Ancient Greek mythology (for one of my 2016 challenges), that would count as well. See, blogging is a very dangerous thing!

Button: Once Upon a Time X "The Journey" (art by Melissa Nucera https://www.etsy.com/people/ThisYearsGirl)

 

Happy Reading!

Classic Children's Literature · RAL · Reading · The Classics Club

Coming Soon: Classic Children’s Lit Event, 4

Classic Children's Literature Event April 2016

I’ve been teasing it for a while, but now the official post: The 4th edition of the Classic Children’s Literature Event will be here in April–just one month away!

As in years past, I will be reading an optional readalong title. The votes are in, and although it was close, Emil and the Detectives [Emil und die Detektive] by Erich Kästner (1929, Germany) was the winner, so hopefully many will join in. I know absolutely nothing about this one, other than at one time I read something about it interesting enough that I decided to add it to my own project list. (And apparently there was a Disney movie, but I don’t know anything about that either.) Note: my library didn’t have a paper copy in their collection, and a cursory search online suggests it may be not so easy to find a new paper copy for purchase, so if you want to join in and don’t already have a copy, you may want to start looking now. (A digital edition is available, but I know that’s not for everyone.)

Emil and the Detectives Readalong April 2016

Event Basics

  • During the month of April, read as many Children’s Classics as you wish and post about them on your blog and/or leave a comment on the event page on this blog. I will have a link page starting the first of April to gather posts so that we may share as we go.
  • The optional RAL title: Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner. I plan on discussion the weekend of April 22-24.
  • I’m not going to be the “children’s classics” police. Use your own judgement for what fits the category but if you want some guidelines, these are what I’m going by:
    • I think many of us have read more recent children’s books that we may already deem “classics” (for example, many people feel that way about the Harry Potter books), but for this event, I’d prefer if we read books that were written prior to 1966. This will still allow a lot of options, and will hopefully avoid the “but what is a classic” dilemma! (And yes, 1966 is rather arbitrary. Rebel if you wish, but 50 years old seems a good age.)
    • Defining “children’s,” especially prior to 1900 or so can be a challenge as some books we think of as “children’s” today may not have been intended that way at the time. Personally, I’d say books appropriate for approximately an elementary-school aged child or preteen (to read or to have read to them) should be fine. I’d personally also count the various fairy tales, even though some of the earliest versions were not exactly family friendly.
    • Feel free to include books from any country, in translation or not. I have limited exposure to non-American children’s lit, so I’d love to learn about books from other countries myself.
    • Feel free to double up with other events or challenges if you wish.
  • And if you need ideas I posted
  • There is no deadline for joining or participating (other than, of course, the end of April).

Most important: Have fun!

Please let me–and other participants–know in the comments of this post if you are interested in participating, and let me know if you have any questions. Also, please feel free to use any of the event/RAL images on your own blogs.

Classic Children's Literature Event April 2016 - 300px wide

Classic Children's Literature Event April 2016 - 250px wide

Classic Children's Literature Event April 2016 - 200px wide

Emil and the Detectives Readalong April 2016 - 200px wide

Emil and the Detectives Readalong April 2016 - 250px wide

Emil and the Detectives Readalong April 2016 - 300px wide

Happy reading!

Participants:

Anastacia from Rambling Reviews
Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews
Bellezza from Dolce Bellezza
Bex from An Armchair by the Sea
Carol from Jouney and Destination
Cleo from Classical Carousel
Lynn from Smoke and Mirrors
Nancy from ipsofactodotme
Plethora from Plethora of Books
Tom from Wuthering Expectations

Image sources: The event logo illustration if from The Tale of Jemima Puddle-duck (1908) by Beatrix Potter (1866-1943). The RAL logo illustration is from Emil and the Detectives (1929), illustrations by Walter Trier (1890-1951).

Classic Children's Literature · Poll · RAL

Open for Suggestions – Children’s Classic RAL

I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of January already! I’ve been thinking about the upcoming Classics of Children’s Literature Event I have planned for this coming April. Mostly, about what RAL title I should have this year–last year’s RAL of The Adventures of Pinocchio was so fantastic, it’s going to be hard to live up to. I’d been thinking about looking for another translated title, but it turns out that, outside of the very well-known, it can be rather hard to find English translations of quite a few of the titles I’m interested in (at least, readily available English translations). Pity.

I’ve been looking over my personal list and have some ideas, but thought I’d open it up for votes/suggestions.

 

I won’t promise to take the winner – if a new suggestion is made that is especially appealing I may select that. I’d also be open to having more than one RAL title as well, if there’s interest (or if my whim leads me that way). Suggest away!