Tuesday, February 27, 2007

this is not right

There's a book called The Littlest Angel. It's about a little cherub who gives a gift to the newly born Christ Child.

(Kind of like the Little Drummer Boy, who apparently thought banging a drum in the stable would make everyone happy. All night long, riling up the goats, Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum! Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum! Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum! Joseph: "Shut up, you little cretin, there's a newborn in here!" Baby Jesus: "Waaahhhh!" In real life, Mary would have killed the little drummer boy and hidden his body in the straw. But I digress.)

My point is this: I can forgive the hijacking of what is sacred scripture to millions, and the sickly-sweet illustrations, but I found The Littlest Angel to be just this side of completely unreadable.

Every sentence is a tortuous thing, full of asides, replete with commas, loaded with vocabulary only a reasonably well-read adult would understand.

It begins,
Oh, many, many years ago as time is calculated by men--but which was only Yesterday in the Celestial Calendar of Heaven--there was, in Paradise, ...

it continues
Although these flaws in behaviour might have been overlooked, the general appearance of the Littlest Angel was even more disreputable than his deportment. It was first whispered among the Seraphim and Cherubim, and then said aloud among the Angels and Archangels, that he didn't even look like an angel!

and so on
And then, in all those timeless days that followed, everyone wondered at the great change in the Littlest Angel, for, among all the cherubs in God's Kingdom, he was the most happy. His conduct was above the slightest reproach. His appearance was all that the most fastidious could wish for. And on excursions to Elysian Fields, it could be said, and truly said, that he flew like an angel!

And why do I care? Because last night I tried to read this book to an energetic, easily-distracted 5-yr-old. She made a valiant effort to concentrate, but it was rough going. Every sentence had to be explained. By the third page, I was wishing all the characters would fall down a well together and get drowned.

Who would write such a thing? I know kids in 1958 had longer attention spans, but c'mon -- Elysian Fields? [His] general appearance ...was even more disreputable than his deportment? Be serious. If this is what kids were raised on in the 50's, I don't blame them for taking drugs in the 60's -- I'd have done the same, just to escape the mind-numbing boredom of what apparently passed for children's entertainment.

Or maybe it's a really good book, I don't know...

7 Comments:

At Tue Feb 27, 02:14:00 PM PST, Blogger Left Coast Sister said...

Some books are better left on the shelf. Like the Lullabies of the 1940s CD that Pottery Barn sells. No one under 75 can appreciate it... PS Did you pick out that book to read?

 
At Tue Feb 27, 05:52:00 PM PST, Blogger Alan said...

The princess's favorite book as a five year old was "Funny Bunny". She still remembers it fondly.

 
At Wed Feb 28, 07:30:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

LCS,
No, I didn't pick it -- little Maribel picked it from her school library, and her homework was to pick out the words she recognized as the book was read to her. For some reason, she didn't recognize "deportment"...

Alan,
I still read Funny Bunny every night before I go to sleep. Don't you?

 
At Wed Feb 28, 07:30:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Thu Mar 01, 09:33:00 PM PST, Blogger si said...

maybe if you had enacted the scenes -- the angels and cherubs -- that might have helped it along.

 
At Tue Mar 06, 01:53:00 PM PST, Blogger SoozeSchmooze said...

ummm ok...that was a very outdated story....no need to be so very testy about it though...just choose another...geez...

 
At Tue Feb 26, 03:15:00 PM PST, Blogger soma8 said...

I remember being forced to endure that piece of crap book in day-school as well. Terrible sentence structure, inappropriate vocabulary, and lazy writing (the plot really was an embellished rip-off of "The Little Drummer Boy"). This is a Christmas gift that belongs on the rubbish heap.

 

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