Full of Surprises

Klara approached me with a severe look on her face and asked menacingly, “Mommy, do you worship idols? It’s not OK to worship idols. Prophet Elijah said that the worshippers of Baal…”

After I stopped choking on my coffee, I realized that she and N have a new hobby which consists of reading a thick illustrated children’s Bible.

17 thoughts on “Full of Surprises”

  1. Do you and N want to expose Klara to translations of some Russian works for kids too? Like “Russian Fairy Tales” (in English)?

    As an entertainment, I read “The Chronicles of Prydain” by Lloyd Alexander and liked them. If Klara understands “The Secret Garden”, may be she is ready for those novels too:

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    1. She hates fairy tales. I had to rework Cinderella completely to make it relevant to her. I now tell it to her as a chapter book, and we are on chapter 14. In the story, Cinderella found her parents, became friends with Klara and the prince, and realized that the stepsisters are only mean because they are lonely and have no friends. So now they are all hanging out as a group, thwarting the plans of evil Aunt Drusilla who is grumpy and tries to spoil everybody’s fun. How can Pushkin possibly compete?

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      1. That is awesome! We have been reading fairy tales at dinnertime. The kids enjoy them, and often take the books and read to each other. So I was really surprised the other day when they requested “Cinderella” at dinner. I’d always thought of that as strictly appealing to girls. I read it, and –mystery solved– it was the Grimm version, where the dress and shoes come from the dead mother who haunts the hazel tree, there’s lots of foot mutilation, and in the end birds peck out the eyes of the stepsisters.

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        1. I have figured out that most of the fairy tales I hated were by H. C. Andersen. He’s not considered a children’s author in Danish and this explains a lot. There are all these extreme lessons in sexism and female masochism and the tales are quite toxic, really

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            1. We just finished “Blue and Green Wonders”, a collection of Lithuanian tales. We are now going back and forth between an unexpurgated Grimm–which has many classic stories, and also a lot of variations on “a hen, a bean, a coal, and a stick all fall in the river and die. The end.”– and Clever Gretchen, a collection whose stories are so engaging the kids have not yet noticed that all the heroes are girls. Weirdly, my six-year-old also really enjoys Aesop. I think he would listen to anything we read to him, he loves stories that much. When he was 2-3, he had a deep emotional connection with the stories of Scuffy the Tugboat, Tootle the Train, and the Little Engine that Could.

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              1. Z: delighted to meet someone familiar with all those! Do you happen to know any others in that vein? I don’t know what we’ll do when we exhaust Grimm! They’ve already got several of the Andrew Lang fairy books as part of their school reading, so those are out… Eventually we’ll read George MacDonald’s short stories (but I haven’t got hard copies yet). I’ve always loved Melisande, and the Light Princess…

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              1. Great prose in Danish, but very dour, illustrative of the meanness in this culture . . . I firmly believe that the reason they need the welfare state is that otherwise they would all die, nobody would lift a finger to help anyone. Mind you I am not against the welfare state, just noticing a reason they HAVE to have it in these terrible Calvinist lands.

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      1. // But Prydain isn’t like fairy tales.

        Yes, it’s a long hero’s journey based on Welsh myths. Reminds one of Lord of the Rings but for kids. Or of king Arthur’s adventures for kids. Each books stands alone, but also is a part of the series.

        I loved the writing style and the characters were likeable too.

        QUOTE from the beginning of the first novel

        Chapter 1
        The Assistant Pig-Keeper

        TARAN WANTED to make a sword; but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes. And so it had been horseshoes all morning long. Taran’s arms ached, soot blackened his face. At last he dropped the hammer and turned to Coll, who was watching him critically.

        “Why?” Taran cried. “Why must it be horseshoes? As if we had any horses!”

        Coll was stout and round and his great bald head glowed bright pink. “Lucky for the horses,” was all he said, glancing at Taran’s handiwork.

        “I could do better at making a sword,” Taran protested. “I know I could.” And before Coll could answer, he snatched the tongs, flung a strip of red-hot iron to the anvil, and began hammering away as fast as he could.

        “Wait, wait!” cried Coll, “that is not the way to go after it!”

        Heedless of Coll, unable even to hear him above the din, Taran pounded harder than ever. Sparks sprayed the air. But the more he pounded, the more the metal twisted and buckled, until, finally, the iron sprang from the tongs and fell to the ground. Taran stared in dismay. With the tongs, he picked up the bent iron and examined it.

        “Not quite the blade for a hero,” Coll remarked.

        “It’s ruined,” Taran glumly agreed. “It looks like a sick snake,” he added ruefully.

        “As I tried telling you,” said Coll, “you had it all wrong. You must hold the tongs—so. When you strike, the strength must flow from your shoulder and your wrist be loose. You can hear it when you do it right. There is a kind of music in it. Besides,” he added, “this is not the metal for weapons.”

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  2. On a different topic, you haven’t shared what you’re researching or even reading for fun for a long time. Are there any interesting books you may share, please?

    The Israeli and American media are naturally very concentrated on covid and American elections. Frankly, both subjects are depressing and feel old (to me). So anything on your research would be a breath of fresh air.

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  3. What about The Chronicles of Narnia? Raised in FSU, I haven’t heard of them till immigrating to Israel but they are considered a classic.

    ‘King Matt the First’ by Janusz Korczak was one of my favorites, but Klara may be too small for it?

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