Pitch your tents, bring your iodine tablets!

April 25, 2009 at 10:25 am 2 comments

boxcar_childrenI cannot stand the Boxcar Children. This wasn’t always the case; my addiction to reading can be traced back to the first Boxcar Children book, handed to me in first grade. For two years I pulled Boxcar Children books off the shelf, devoured them, then replaced them in order – one through about 120 – and pulled the next one down. But even childhood nostalgia can’t save these books in my mind. They’re dragged inexorably downward by insipid, flat characters who seem to think childhood is nothing more than ignorant vulnerability.

“Wait!” you Boxcar defenders may say. “They live alone in a forest! They shell peas! Benny has to drink from a cracked pink cup! Poor child!”

While I agree that the first book’s best feature is life in the great outdoors, if you think that drinking from a cracked cup is roughing it for a 6-year-old, you clearly 1. Have never gone camping, and 2. Have never met a 6-year-old.

The author of the first 18 (and best) books of the series, Gertude Chandler Warner, once told her fans that the first book “raised a storm of protest from librarians who thought the children were having too good a time without any parental control! That is exactly why children like it!” What she doesn’t mention is that parental – or grand-parental – supervision is exactly what the books praise. In an ultimate dismissal of children’s resourcefulness and adventurousness, the kid’s boxcar is dragged into their grandfather’s backyard, where it stands, not as a reminder of the adventures they’ve had and the challenges they overcame, but as a statement that they’ll never ever have to do those terrible things again, because now they have an adult to do all the difficult thinking for them.

To be clear, I’m all for kids having adult supervision and am against children running off into the wilderness to live all alone – I’ve read Lord of the Flies. But fiction lets us be adventuresome, and there’s no better way in kids lit to celebrate resourcefulness, quick thinking, and problem-solving than with an adventurous outdoors tale.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of treacherous expeditions and dangerous nights under the stars in the world of kids lit.Those are the escapades we’ll face this week, in Roughing It Week. So pack up your knapsack, grab a hatchet, read up on your falconry and edible mushrooms, cause we’ll be traveling light.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: Weekly Themes. Tags: , , , , , , .

“Noxious nest of nattering nincompoopery” Excuses, excuses

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Care  |  April 29, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Don’t forget that your first two pets also took their names from those not-so-adventurous boxcar children. Can we also talk about how lame Benny is… super lame.

  • 2. Liz  |  April 29, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    This is why you never give your sister your blog address. She’ll poke holes in your argument. She’s right, my first two cats were named Violet and Jessie and I loved them with the immense type of love 6-year-olds inflict on their pets.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Read the Printed Word!
he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.

Recent Posts


%d bloggers like this: