In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Peter Pan industrial-strength haiku

Dear Annie,

Yes!  Please come visit again soon. It was wonderful having all five of you here in D.C.  The block castle still stands guard in the living room, and kids' books are scattered even more thickly than usual all around the house.  We had a lovely time.  I'm very fond of the picture of Jeff and the girls reading in the board book section.

We all managed to linger over many delightful books, but today I'm bringing us one that is more efficient than eloquent.  As you heard when you came to the store, it's hard to find a short book with pictures in it which can introduce the story of Peter Pan to a three or four year-old.  You wrote a while ago about a re-telling at an early chapter level, but as you pointed out, the Disney Golden Book is about the only illustrated option for young ones.

Imagine my surprise when
Disney Peter Pan Level 1 Reader
appeared in a shipment recently. It's a reader -- one of those beginner ones which rarely offers more than two or three words per page.  This one reads like the winner of a contest to summarize a plot in fewer than 50 words.  Here's the entire text, each line a page:
Peter Pan!
Fairy dust.
They can fly!
Fly to Never Land!
Meet Tinker Bell.
Follow the Lost Boys.
See mermaids.
Pirates! Oh, no!
Captain Hook's ship.
Walk the plank.
Brave Peter.
Clumsy Captain!
Take the ship!
Fly home.

Forty-one words.  I find this weirdly engaging.  It gives the parent who's forgotten everything the rough outline to summarize the plot to a child.  A few major elements are missing, of course: Stories!  Poison! Tiger Lily! There's zero literary merit here, but room to elaborate.  A sort of disneyfied haiku.

At this rate, how many words for The Secret Garden (Wake up./All dead./Moor./Uncle's house./Screams in night./Locked!/...)? And shall we allow 70 for Dickens?

Ah well, the summer heat is wreaking havoc with my brain.

Love to you and yours,


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