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

Coming Soon: Classic Children’s Lit Event, 5


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.


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!


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

Open to Suggestions – Children’s Classics

Yellow Rose Bouquet
Happy Valentines Day!

I’ve long had pleasent memories associated with Valentines Day, although these are the memories of childhood rather than more mature associations. My mom would always–still does, actually–make frosted heart cookies, double stacked–yummy! My brother and I could always, growing up, count on a chocolate heart or a small bundle of wrapped chocolates from the local candy shop. And for several years, a new paperback as well. I still have my first copy of Pride and Prejudice, which arrived on Valentines of 8th grade. (Though it is considerably more visably battered now.) Before that, it was always a YA or Middle Grade book, almost always award winning. My mom has good taste.

So it shouldn’t be any surprise that on Valentines Day, my thoughts always turn to favorite books. This year I’ve been thinking about the upcoming Classic Children’s Literature Event (April! Just around the corner…), and when not panicked about getting my act together to get ready, I’ve been musing over what to suggest as a readalong title. And I must admit, nothing in particular is really calling to me this year. Sure, I have a great long list (and if pressed today, I would say the Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, which have the advantage of being available in an English translation online), but I just haven’t settled on the right book. So I’m throwing it open to suggestions: is there a children’s classic (at least 50 years old, please) that you would love to read–either for the first time, or revisiting–this year? I’ll take suggestions until the end of the month and announce the RAL title at the start of March.

Happy Reading!

Classic Children's Literature

Mid Month for Children’s Lit

Grape Hyacinth and Birdbath - April 2016

What a difference a week makes! Where just a week ago we were (alas) cover by a light blanket of snow, this week the flowers have rebounded as if the cold weather never happened. They might look delicate, but the early spring blooms are hardy. (And the temperature is nice and warm too – the weather’s always a roller-coaster around here…)

Friday marked the halfway point for the Classic Children’s Literature Event. Already! A reminder (to myself, if no one else) that this coming weekend, April 22-24, is planned for discussion of Emil and the Detectives. I’ve finished my reading, so just now for the writing. I’ve also finished up another group of Beatrix Potter stories and The Jungle Book; if I’m very well behaved I will post on both this week.

But besides myself there have been plenty of posts for the Event. A round up for the halfway point:

Anastacia from Rambling Reviews:
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Carol from Jouney and Destination:
Sir Nigel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Nancy from ipsofactodotme:
Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Bunnicula: The Rabbit-Tale Mystery by James and Deborah Howe
Zlateh the Goat by Isaac Bashevis Singer and illustrator Maurice Sendak
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The King of Ireland’s Son by Padraic Colum

Plethora from Plethora of Books:
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson

Tom from Wuthering Expectations:
The Happy Prince and Other Tales and A House of Pomegranates by Oscar Wilde
Peacock Pie by Walter de la Mere

Amanda from Simpler Pastimes:
Beatrix Potter Stories (group 1)

Please let me know if I’ve missed your post! And please don’t forget to add your links to the main post so that we all can shares in each others’ reading experiences.

Happy Reading! There’s still plenty of month left for much more children’s literature.

Classic Children's Literature Event April 2016 - original

Classic Children's Literature

Welcome to the Classic Children’s Literature Event, 2016!

Classic Children's Literature Event April 2016 - original

No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and far more often) worth reading at the age of fifty.

C.S. Lewis

Today marks the first day of the 2016 Classic Children’s Literature Event! I hope for a fun month of revisiting old favorites and meeting new ones, and for plenty of great discussion about children’s classics both well known and nearly forgotten.

Starting today, the Event Logo at the top right of the blog will link to this page, which will be the link page for the event. (And this post should also be a “sticky” post at the top of the blog.) Please use the  comments below to link to your posts for this month. This will make it easier to for everyone to find each other’s posts! There will be a separate page for the Emil and the Detectives readalong which will go live nearer to the discussion weekend. At the end of the month–and half-way through if there are enough posts to warrant it–I will round up all the links onto one post for ease of discover.

As I said before, I’m not too fussy about the particulars for this event–as long as it’s still April it’s never too late to join!

(If you really want more guidelines check the Introductory Post. If you need reading ideas please see 2013’s suggestions list or 2014’s.)

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

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


Happy Reading!