juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

KIDDIE LIT

on April 27, 2012

KIDDIE LIT

 

You certainly know  Jack and Jill along with probably dozens of other nursery rhymes.  You also know the stories of Cinderella and Peter Pan. When you outgrew nursery rhymes what did  you read? Maybe Heidi, The Bobsey Twins, The Hardy Boys. All of those can be classified as ‘kiddie lit.’  I met an English professor who taught a course called Kiddie Lit and we spent hours arguing over whether or not certain books could be classified as such.

 

He claimed The Little Prince was children’s literature while I contend its primary purpose is not to entertain children but to show adults they have lost what is important in life: to encourage them to explore the world and find their way back to the mindset of a child.  Adults are given short shift in this story. The power hungry king and the vain man demonstrate the meaninglessness of their lives. The businessman is after meaningless pursuits and has no visitors. The commonality between all the people the prince meets on the asteroids is that they are alone Their  personality traits prevent them from making friends. Friendship is all important to The Little Prince.

 

“When  you tell them you made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead they demand, “How old is he How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?”

 

“To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has a friend. And if I forget them, I may become like the grownups who are no longer interested in anything but figures.”

 

The Little Prince points to other things he sees the grownups as having lost.

 

“Well, I must endure the presence of two or three caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted wit the butterflies.”

 

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

 

How can that learned professor deny The Little  Prince is much more than Kiddie Lit?

 

I also asked the professor if parts of the Bible could be called kiddie lit.  How could he not agree that a story about a man living for three days in the belly of a fish isn’t an adventure story suitable for a child.? How about a  boy killing a giant with a slingshot or talking jackasses or an ark large enough to hold two of every species in the universe?

 

It seems to me that parts of the Bible are fairy tales and should be shelved in the library along with Children’s fiction. You can make a case for it being history as well.  There are millions upon millions of  people who will dispute this and I do not mean to disparage their views.  Still, I simply cannot fathom a belief that some stories contained in the Bible are “truth..” or divinely inspired.

 

What child doesn’t love magic? The creator had a wonderful imagination. He (or she) could be called a magician. Witness the spreading of a peacock’s tail or a fish that swims upright. Turning tadpoles into frogs is no small trick. The mind of a child is open to such magic.  As in The Little Prince the minds of grownups are often closed to it.

 

Pity.

 

What would be your parting words to The Little Prince as he returns to his asteroid?

 

Julie Rose

Juliroseee601@gmail.com

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