where the writers are
Choosing my favorite, I wish I could say...

...that I have just one.  Frankly, it is difficult to pick just one favorite book from my childhood that qualifies as children's literature (or, as my sister, who is a third grade teacher, called it Kiddy Lit (when she took it as a required course for her degree in elementary education)).  However, if I had to pick just one, it would have to be Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders. 


I'd have to choose this book only because it was one that I read many times.  For those unfamiliar with the book, it is the story of a dog's life, told from the perspective of the title animal himself.  Beautiful Joe is only a puppy when his first master cruelly abuses Joe by lopping off his ears close to his scalp.  His master had already kicked and/or killed his litter-mates, but Joe, because of his defense of his mother, is tortured.  Fortunately, his squeals of pain are heard by passersby who rescue Joe before he, too, is killed by the cruel man.  Joe is taken to a new home where his ears are bandaged, and begins a new life with a family that is caring and loving to creatures of all kinds.  He is named Beautiful Joe because he is anything but.  Eventually, Joe becomes beautiful, if only inwardly, through his loving, poignant stories of the lives of the human and animal family with whom he lives.  Yes, I can honestly say I loved reading this story of a dog who lived a wonderful, full life. There are many emotional moments throughout the book, not the least of which is the death of Joe.  Yet, I certainly remember the cover of the book which showed Beautiful Joe. Despite his lopped off ears, Joe always looked beautiful to me because his eyes were so expressive and kind-looking.

Digressing a bit from the subject, I read and re-read many books that I enjoyed throughout my childhood. I enjoyed reading the Encyclopedia Brown books, Nancy Drew mysteries, and the Honey Bunch series (did she ever turn six years old?).  I further enjoyed reading A.A. Milne's books about the adventures of Christopher Robin and friends.   I fondly remember a book called, if I recall correctly, The Peculiar Miss Pickett, which could be described as an early forerunner of the Harry Potter series in that Miss Pickett was magical when she removed her glasses.  These are but a few of the many books that I enjoyed reading when I was young.

Some books that could be described of children's literature I read, not as a child, but as a teen or adult.  I read many books from the required list of my sister's Kiddy Lit class.  Books like Harriet the Spy, Where the Wild Things Are, and Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day (to name but a few) were books that I was introduced to during this time, and enjoyed them thoroughly. As a adult, I have continued to read what might be considered literature for children like the Harry Potter series (which if I had read them when I was a child, they might have been my favorite).

I think I may always read, from time to time, childrens' literature especially if they are good reads.  As C.S. Lewis said, "no book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty--except, of course, books of information" and "...a children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story.  The good ones last." (from On Stories by C.S. Lewis page 14 and 34)   


4 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

I had forgotten about

I had forgotten about Beautiful Joe, Nancy, probably because it made me so sad. I was prompted to Google it and found that it was a best-seller with over seven million copies sold by 1930! A true story from Canada, the setting was relocated to Maine (probably why we had a copy at our house) and the author Margaret Saunders changed her name to Marshall so that she would be taken more seriously. More amazing facts about the book on Wikipedia, which of course you may already know. There is even a society.
Thanks for bringing it to my attention again. Makes me want to re-read it, despite the heartbreak.

Comment Bubble Tip

Mara, It made me so sad,

It made me so sad, and yet there were uplifting moments throughout. Just the fact that Joe was rescued was the first of many, but I always worried about his mom because she continued to take abuse from the man who owned her because of love. How often do we still see this happening today? With pets? With children? With spouses?

I did look up information on the book (to check out my facts, rather than rely on my memory) and was surprised at how much I found out about the book and its author. Thanks, though, for drawing the information to my attention because I learned some things I didn't know. Thanks, and I'll send some kleenex; you'll need them.

as ever,

Comment Bubble Tip

Oh, the things that occur to

Oh, the things that occur to us late at night!  I just realized that my Red Room puppy blogs may harken back to Beautiful Joe and his problems, my way of coping through humor with the abuse that we know still persists, not only with pets, but as you so correctly say with children and spouses.  We’ll need those Kleenex for Black Beauty, too.Best, Mara     

Comment Bubble Tip

Mara, I have never read

I have never read "Black Beauty" because I really wasn't one of those girls totally infatuated with horses; I guess I was always more intimidated by the size of the animal. Maybe I'll have to check it out sometime now that I have grand-children who might wish to read it, but I'll prepare for it with a few spare Kleenex in hand.
No one should have to deal with abuse, but I, like you, have found that humor is a great way of coping. Alas, abuse continues to exist.
Take care,