Another Friday and it is time for another brain teaser. Last week was very high pressure, high stress and high reward for me. After all this, I feel like thinking about the simple messages in life; the messages that we glean through the stories of childhood. I love children’s stories and continued reading these when I was already grown up; for a good while I had no children and no excuse to do that. It was just for the love and joy of it.
The question for today is:
What are the three stories for children that you like best and why?
My three choices are:
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
This is a wonderful story about a giraffe that was too uncoordinated and too gangly to dance. All other animals in the forest were accomplished dancers; not only that, all other animals were laughing at the poor giraffe because he was the outlier, because he can’t dance.
One evening the giraffe got so upset that he went away and as he was thinking how hopeless and clumsy he is, he heard this wonderful music. And he started dancing! He went back to the party and danced to the astonishment and admiration of the other animals – because his dancing was extraordinary.
I love this story because of its message: anyone can dance but they have to find their own music.
Karlson on the Roof by Astrid Lindgren
I have always loved Karlson on the Roof: it is funny and it is naughty. This is a book that doesn’t patronise children and gives them many messages that otherwise will be very hard to explain. For example, it makes it easy for children to grasp that it is not that their thinking is less valid than that of adults but it is just different. Little Man (the main character) goes back home with a black eye and his mum says: ‘How many times have I told you not to fight; arguments can be resolved with words not fists.’ Little Man doesn’t argue but he goes away thinking: ‘How can I explain to mum that not all arguments can be solved with words. If someone tells you that they can beat you up and you tell them that they can’t…you have to fight.’ Lovely!
I love Karlson on the Roof because it is imaginative, funny and naughty. However, I was told off for looking to buy it for my son in Sweden, by a lady who considered it to be sexist, old fashioned rubbish. Each to their own, I say.
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Now this is something else! The story of a little mouse that takes a walk through the forest and meets different animals; all animals want to eat it. Clever little mouse knows how dangerous the world is so it invents the Gruffalo – an ugly and scary creature he is going to meet. But the Gruffalo exists and when they meet it also wants to eat the mouse. Mouse warns the Gruffalo that it shouldn’t pick a fight: mouse is the scariest animal in the forest. To prove this they start walking back and true: all animals run away when they see mouse … because the Gruffalo is behind it.
I love this book because of its message: being clever and inventive is so much better than being strong and scary.