Friday, July 1, 2005

Book Review

Flea at One Good Thing has been reviewing books lately. That started me thinking about what I've been reading.

I have been growing frustrated with the portrayal of caterpillars in modern children's literature. What? You were expecting James Joyce?

"The Ugly Duckling" gets it right. The moral is that while the ugly duckling is, indeed, "ugly" for a duckling, he's not really ugly at all - he's just not a duckling. (I hope I didn't give away the surprise ending for anyone).

Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar and its ilk get it all wrong. Several of these newer books talk about the drab life of caterpillars until they transform into beautiful butterflies. Percival, for example, is depressed because he's "so plain."

Then something wonderful happened! He became a butterfly! "And no one ever said he was plain again."

How could the apples have fallen so far from the tree?


  1. You are discussing an area of children's literature that I've never considered. Of course, you are correct. I remember reading the plain caterpillar book to our children and thinking the author could have said more about P's life. I WAS expecting James Joyce. Have you read, "I'll Love You Forever"? Charming.
    I like your blog!

  2. I've put a post up today in response to your review;)

  3. The book sounds bad. Chuck it! I am ruthless about the messages in books for my beloved toddler. I do like Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar, though and I think that story is different. That's about eating and eating and eating and then turning into something new: I don't think it's about beauty but about growth: the mystery and hard work of it, the independence of it, the weird spurts of it. (I think that I'll Love You Forever is drivel--too sentimental for me. But I'm being too frank: a mood, perhaps.)