Tuesday, January 16, 2007

trying to find the light

After last night's terrors about dying mummies, which saw Amy stay fully awake until well after 3am, I did a quick tally of her favourite stories. A good 80%+ of traditional fairy tales and compendium stories feature dead or dying mothers and failing fathers - beauty and the beast, rumplestiltskin, hansel and gretel, cinderella... the list goes on and on.

But Amy has reached an age where picture books and five minute stories just don't cut it, so each and every night she reaches for the big kids books, the ones with words and stories with some length and substance. So we end up reading about dead mothers and rescuing princes and stuff I find pretty repugnant.

So I went to the bookstore today and spent damn near an hour trawling for some new books. I used nearly an hour of a sales assistant's time (something happy!).

Books which are age appropriate, where stuff actually happens. Books that give a four and half year old something to think about and somethign to listen to, but which don't induce nightmares about loss and death, which don't make them think a husband is a girl's only saviour, which don't promote shopping as a life purpose. Something that isn't completely inane and scary to my adult sensibilities, but still appeals to her.

And I came away with two new titles - The Princess and the Unicorn (in the Aussie nibbles series) and Tashi and the Dancing Shoes (in the Tashi series).

And we read the Princess and the Unicorn. And both the mummy and the daddy die.

Please, someone out there tell me there's a secret list somewhere.


Anonymous Kristy said...

I really know what you mean but maybe you could try and get her to make up her own endings help to see that they are just fiction and we can make them what we want.Just like life itself.Kids have amazing imaginations but sometimes they just need direction.I hope I haven't offended just trying to help.It's always a tricking thing this advice giving xxx

12:12 am  
Anonymous Ash said...

Enid Blyton Faraway Tree and Other Stories. Seriously. We have nightmares here too and it's difficult.

I have found Enid Blyton and Dick King-Smith to be the least upsetting authors. Dick King-Smith wrote the Sophie stories which are great for little kids. Anne Fine is also a good writer for the over-imaginative. I'll trawl more through our bookshelves and see what else seems good.

12:21 am  
Anonymous juliastitches said...

Hello- I just found your blog through flickr.
The Tashi book are a great choice. At 9 and 13 my kids still think Tashi books are cool.

9:04 am  
Anonymous juliastitches said...

Oh I forgot....animal books written by Jackie French (Australian organic gardening writer and children's author) are great too.

9:05 am  
Anonymous alice said...

Here are some mostly older, mostly American "big kid" books--don't know if any would appeal or even be readily available in Australia. If she likes books that can't be finished at one sitting, maybe Beverly Cleary? (Ramona stories) Oz books?(The Lost Princess of Oz and the Land of Oz--with some on-the-spot elimination of excessive detail--have been favorites here) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Finish-in-one-sitting books my daughter has enjoyed--Blueberries for Sal, Bear Dance (Katya lives in the woods with her friend Bear and defeats Jack Frost by dancing him into melting), Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy World.

3:17 pm  
Anonymous Schelle said...

how about some Australian Classics? May Gibbs, Blinky Bill, Dot and the Kangaroo, The Magic Pudding...

2:18 am  
Anonymous schelle said...

(oops, forgot the father koala dies in Blinky Bill... maybe better to skip to Blinky Bill and Nutsy! It's a long time since I read it...)

You can do some advance reading on most of these at Project Gutenberg - read them before you buy them! Here is Blinky Bill & Nutsy - complete with illustrations. http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks04/0400581h.html

3:10 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read a good book called Creative Storytelling by Jack Maguire and its all about ways to tell a fairytale and then discuss then parts you don't like, make up endings you don't like, find different versions of the same fairytale from different cultures etc and then tell the same basic fairytale yourself (rather than reading it) but with the endings and characters you like. Ite excellent and full of resources. We seriously don't need another generation of women raised with woeful role models - good luck!

7:44 am  
Anonymous alice said...

I forgot to mention the Usborne Children's Puzzle Books--My daughter fell in love with Puzzle Dungeon at 3 when she just liked the pictures and the story and couldn't really "do" any of the puzzles and now (she's 5)likes to look at them on her own. If princesses/knights are Amy's thing, you might want to look into Puzzle Castle. They're good for nursing a younger one, too, because they're paperback (easily held in one hand) and you can do so much on a single page. Oh, yeah, The Beast With a Thousand Teeth (by one of the Monty Python guys) was a big hit here, too--the beginning is scary, though, so you'll want to read it first. Children's librarians have been most helpful for me in finding books to match specific interests/fears of my kids. Good luck!

1:02 am  

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