Thursday, October 25, 2012

children's books with an edge

Tired of the soupy sweet repetitiveness of Children's Books? Longing for something with a little bite? Here are two of my favorites.

Hurry, Hurry, Mary Dear!
by N.M. Bodecker
illus. Erik Blegvad
If you don't mind a little nasty feminism, this is a lovely book. Mary has so many things to do to get ready for winter--bringing in the harvest, winterizing the house, mending warm things, and finally (spoiler alert) placing a pot of tea over the head of her husband who hasn't lifted a finger to come to her assistance. While you're telling your sons not to marry a floozy, you can put a word in the ear of your girl child not to marry a man who might order her around. Worth the horrified snickers of children who know in their immortal souls that its very bad to pour tea on other people.

Cinder Edna
by Ellen Jackson
illus. Kevin O'Malley
Who among us hasn't wanted to trip Cinderella as she ascends the steps of the Palace to be swept into the arms of her Prince Charming?  Ellen Jackson provides a charming outlet for those of us who live on the darker side of Disney. While Cinder Ella sits in the Cinders and whines, her neighbor, Cinder Edna, after catering to her evil Step Mother and Step Sisters every chance whim, doesn't want the hassle of constantly washing ash out of her clothes. Edna rolls up her sleeves and cheerfully adds to her collection of jokes, perfects her repertoire of Tuna Casseroles, and earns money mowing lawns and cleaning bird cages. Her true love turns out to be a man who loves hard work and kittens. On the whole, this book offers a cheerful and friendly alternative to the nauseating idiocy of Disney Love.


Jessica Snell said...

The first sounds like it'd be a lovely companion piece to "The Fisherman and His Wife".

Have you read "I Want My Hat Back", by Jon Klassen? It has a bear and a rabbit and, happily, the bear does what one would EXPECT a bear to do with a rabbit. I found it refreshing.

Kat said...

The first two books in the series aren't child-appropriate, but Mercedes Lackey writes a series for Harlequin- 500 Kingdoms- where the Fairy Godmothers work to PREVENT fairy tales from happening, essentially. After the first two books with 1-2 obligatory sex scenes, she must have convinced them that they could sell her books without them, since she doesn't like writing them, because she stopped including them at all.

For kids, my current favorite series are Patricia Wrede's Frontier Magic books (Magic in an alternate universe- set circa 1860's somewhere on the Mississippi), and Stephanie Burgis' Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson series (Magic in Regency England, with the US title of the first book- Kat, Incorrigible- kind of summing up their feel. ;) Kat is like if Ramona Quimby had magic in Regency England )

I also just finished a re-read of the first 3 Great Brain books, and those are always a favorite. Kids don't like sappy Disney style books either. They like things to work out in the end, but the reason Judy Blume's and Beverly Cleary's and Laura Ingalls Wilder's and John D Fitzgerald's books are still popular after all these years is that kids like to see books where the main characters misbehave! :D