Subscribe to The Horn Book

>Who’s Our Enid?

>Reading this piece on the Guardian book blog about whether or not to give children books whose moral assumptions have become dated, I thought about our previous discussion about reviewers correcting themselves. What do you do when it’s not so much the reviewer who’s changed his mind, but the times? The Guardian article discusses Brit favorites Enid Blyton and Willard Price (a writer unknown to me); a similar debate here might focus on “Carolyn Keene” and “Franklin W. Dixon,” although their series books have been regularly revised to remove what’s now perceived (by those with the power to do something about it) as racial stereotyping.

What’s more of a question here is what we should do about classics such as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books or The Five Chinese Brothers or Little Black Sambo. The latter two have been re-illustrated and retold–taking out the stereotyping, to be sure, but also overelaborating the stories beyond the patience of a story hour audience–and Wilder’s white-settler tales have been joined by a host of alternative narratives, notably Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark House and The Game of Silence.

I’m guessing that what the Guardian treats as a question about parents handing down their childhood favorites to to their children is, in this country, more a concern about what gets intrenched in school curricula. Do we have here an Enid Blyton whose longevity is cause for concern?

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >I remember my mother giving me the Little Colonel books by Annie Fellows Johnston, retrieved from my grandmother’s attic, and saying, before my hand was fully closed around the book, “Now you need to understand when you read these books that there are certain things in them that we do not believe or agree with. For instance, we do not call people ‘darkies’.” I read all of the books (which I can’t classify as great literature, but that I did enjoy), but I when I think about whether or not I would ever give them to children, I sometimes find my mother remarkably bold. Of course, it’s entirely possible to be exposed to all kinds of nonsense, from the merely silly to the extremely prejudiced, and come out okay. But it’s interesting to contemplate what might someday make a censor out of you.

  2. Andy Laties says:

    >Professor/critic Ellen Handler-Spitz doesn’t like “Horton Hatches The Egg” on the basis that the cute little Elephant Bird hatchling’s birth-mother Mayzee is not allowed to reclaim custody, upon her return from holiday-making in sunny climes to retrieve the baby from surrogate mom Horton. Horton gets to keep the baby even though the birth-mother is quite desirous and capable of child-rearing. Spitz argues that this is (I think I’m remembering the rationale correctly) simply sexist.

    In fact, I suspect that varieties of sexism is the locus of most of the “uncorrected” classic children’s lit — since blatant (or perceived) racism has mostly been revised, per Sambo (or, another example of revised-thus-still-in-print, “Dr. Doolittle”). How about Evil Stepmother stories as a genre, for instance?

    Now — one “uncorrected” racist story that seems to be undergoing an unexpurgated revival is “Struwwelpeter”. There’s a new version out illustrated by Bob Staake, for instance, and the 1999 version illustrated by Sarita Vendetta (intro by Jack Zipes) although patently not aimed at children still is in fact the original text.

    So I guess my vote in answer to Roger’s question, specifically, goes to “Struwwelpeter”. (I’ll stay clear of the question of whether Horton is egregiously sexist.)

  3. Andy Laties says:

    >Also taboo-violating and still in print: two Lynd Ward books. “The Biggest Bear” is the only children’s book now available featuring lots of jolly images of boys and men with guns. “The Silver Pony” is the only children’s book with a page depicting a man spanking a boy. (Another in-print title with lots of guns and shooting is Shel Silverstein’s “Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back” — but it’s not central to the canon like the award-winning “Biggest Bear”.)

  4. Andy Laties says:

    >Woops — on the spanking/(now-it’s-called-abuse) front, I forgot about those “Lonely Doll” books by Dare Wright. The first one in the series is still in print, in paper and hardcover, and selling fine.

  5. >One of my favorite girls’ books is Dear Enemy (sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs) and I must have read it 100 times before I read commentary somewhere that it had shocking bits about eugenics in it. Well, maybe it does… but it’s still a great book!

    But like Laura, I might want to discuss some of the problematic bits with a young reader before, during and/or after.

  6. Roger Sutton says:

    >I feel like I want to write a book about the “books-with” question; that is, the idea that children’s freedom in reading is always conditional on some variety of adult intervention. “Yes, you can read this book on the condition that we talk about it.” “Yes, you can read this book after I fill you in on a few things.” Even “let’s read this book together!” fills this misanthrope’s soul with dread.

  7. Monica Edinger says:

    >Andy, how is “Struwwelpeter” racist? I have always been impressed that Hoffmann included an, for-his-time, anti-racist story.


  8. KT Horning says:

    >Monica, please! The Inky Boys? White kids making fun of a black kid are punished by having ink poured on them to turn them black? That’s racist in any time period.

  9. rindawriter says:

    >I’ll make some short comments on a vast subject:

    I’m surprised no one remembered the bunny getting spanked in “Benjamin Bunny,” by Beatrix Potter…

    There is a need, when considering such books as “Little Black Sambo” and the “Dr. Doolittle” books, to have original works that are unedited be published and available to contemporary readers,as they were originally published simply so that we, as readers, can have the originals to read for ourselves to think about them and to compare with edited versions. I detest having “experts” make my opinions and decisions about what I read for me. Let the edited versions out, that’s fine, just so long as original versions exist so that we, as readers, have the freedom to THINK for ourselves and can read the original authors’ works to aid in our own critical thinking.

    I am surprised also by how much people forget that the “Little House” books are technically NOT fiction. They fall into that somewhat slippery realm of “memoir.” As such, they are valuable to a large degree as historical records. They are not perfect historical records. Few historical records are. And all historical data is subject to interpretation and re-interpretation. In this light, Dennis MacCaulliffe’s essay is very disturbing to read, for me personally. It contains several serious historical inaccuracies and reveals clearly how much the author has not read about the solid historical facts we do have available about the Ingalls family. As a critical document, his essay is sadly lacking and full of the author’s own racial prejudices. He seems more bent on expressing his own hate rather than being able to communicate real insight to his readers about the Osage people. I wish the author had, instead of lashing out at the Ingalls family, put his emotional energy into clearly and precisely telling his own people’s stories of that time in depth. He doesn’t do that in that essay, and it’s a sad thing to see that he has achieved so little for his own people in that essay.

    Moreover, his essay in particular leaves out the fact, the actual FACT, that Laura, while recording bravely and faithfully and accurately the racist opinons of the adults around her, including her deeply loved and respected mother, also records her own inner child’s view of the Indians and the situation of the whites and Indians in that time and place, and I cannot find that her child’s view is a racist one. I am sorry. I cannot find that. Indeed, her child’s view is reaction AGAINST the views of her elders. She also records the fact that her family also had to leave the Osage lands and that neither the Osage or her family won anything in that situation. It was a lose-lose ending for all. The Ingalls lost in that situation as equally as the Indians did and would, later, face such continued situtations of starvation and deprivation and suffering that one wonders who suffered how much on those prarires in those times? Or can individual suffering, can personal pain measured. And who are we today to try to measure such things. Of course, all of this illustrates how great the need is to provide not only the “Little House” books to children but other books with differeing perspectives on the same subject as well. This illustrates again, the great need for Indians to write down their OWN stories and write down stories and memoirs for children in particular, rather than wasting their enery, as MacCaulliffe does, in simply venting hate and expressing prejudice against white people.

    Since I am of mixed white and Indian ancestry (Chickasaw, Scotts-Irish, German, and English and who knows what else in the mix), I speak here with great intensity. How can I waste time in indulging myself in words of hate, when in my own blood, in my own ancestry, both Indian and white are mingled? To hate either would be to hate myself. Rather I would seek to speak plainly, deal in facts, expose truth no matter how painful, how difficult, and try earnestly to WIN my audience, to CHANGE in some degree, the prejuduces of my audience. Surely, that is the measure of effective words, is it not? When your audience is changed for the better by them? MacCaulliffe fails miserably to do that.

    Finally, I would say that, if we as adults LIVED lives free of racism, prejudice, as my dear father in particular did in front of me, if children were encouraged early on by adults in how to think and reason and find out things for themselves, if we respected children’s rights to privacy and indivduality and honest speaking, we would not be fussing so much about what children read.

    Thanks, very much, for letting me have a bit of space for this, Roger.

  10. Andy Laties says:

    >Very interesting points about Ingalls books. I wonder how this all interfaces with Rose Wilder Lane’s “rugged individualist” agenda. I wonder if there’s some rugged individualism on display on both sides of the Osage/Pioneer story in play?

    Rose Wilder Lane was the driving force behind the books, as asserted anyhow in William Holz’s “The Ghost In The Litte House”. I saw Holz speak in ’93, about when his biography came out. Simply astounding story about what went on with the composition of those marvelous books. Certainly they were very heavily fictionalized to suit Rose Wilder Lane’s ideology. Here’s the review from Library Journal

    “Fans of the “Little House on the Prairie” series, which fictionalizes the life of the author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, may be disappointed to discover that her works were actually ghostwritten by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane (1886-1968). Thus asserts this well-researched study by Holtz (English, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia). Rose was a precocious girl with a flair for writing who found her mother to be puritanical and critical. This biography details Rose’s forays into the world as she attempted to launch her own writing career. She experienced limited commercial success but often found herself financially and emotionally strained, especially in view of the demands of her parents. Rose injected her own populist ideas into her mother’s work as she crafted her mother’s rudimentary writings into the readable books that are still popular today. The tenuous relationship between mother and daughter offers additional interest in this book. Recommended for public libraries.”

    This is from Publishers Weekly about the book:
    “Do anything you please with the damn stuff if you will fix it up,” said Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie series, to her daughter Rose, who, according to Holtz’s startling research, was the de facto author of her mother’s books. Drawing on diaries and letters, Holtz, a professor of English at the University of Missouri, details Lane’s life (1886-1968) in an engrossing study that highlights her troubled relationship with an apparently cold and manipulative mother. At 17, she fled her parents’ farm in Missouri, married (and later divorced) Gillette Lane, and then traversed the globe, supporting herself as a journalist in New York, Baghdad and Albania, making friends with such writers as Floyd Dell and Dorothy Thompson. Guilt drove her back to the farm to help her parents until publication of the Little House series, under her mother’s name–but heavily rewritten and edited by Rose–freed her financially. A believer in rugged individualism, Lane’s treatise The Discovery of Freedom became the Bible of the Libertarian Party.

  11. >Lucy Fitch Perkins — the [insert historical period, nationality or racist term here] Twins series. I swallowed those whole as a child, but am utterly horrified by them as an adult. I would let my children read them, just as my mother let me read them, but I would feel compelled to comment on their dated attitudes.

    I also remember reading a book (alas, the title is long gone in the mists of time) in which a Greek child prays to his gods. The author appends a footnote, cautioning the reader that “we shouldn’t feel sorry for him for praying to false gods, because they didn’t know in ancient times about the one True God, and surely some of those prayers made it through to Heaven and were answered by God.” (Obviously, this is not actually a direct quote — but I remember this one line better than anything else in the book!) I laughed so hard I cried….

  12. Monica Edinger says:

    >Thanks, KT, I’m clear now about the Inky Boys.Had been thinking that of it as a cautionary tale (of its time, mind you) against racism, but agree that the punishment is certainly racist. Someday I’d like to learn more about Hoffmann’s writing of this particular tale. (I know he was a Frankfurt doctor who decided to write them when he couldn’t find any books for his children, but not the details of each story. There is, by the way, a terrific Heinrich Hoffmann museum in Frankfurt, full of various Struwwelpeters. Amazing how many parodies exist.)

  13. >rindawriter (or anyone who else who may know):

    I’ve been looking for the source by Dennis MacCaulliffe that you mention in your comment, but I can’t find the piece you refer to. Can you please provide more information? Thank you.

  14. KT Horning says:

    >Anonymous, it’s on the Oyate website at:

  15. >It’s also interesting how intrepretations change with the times. The only example I can come up with is not from books, but my father was always appalled that I was a fan of The Flintstones and saw nothing wrong with it. Years later, for some reason, we were watching it together and we found we had completely different intrepretations of what was going on. Wilma’s ending “Yes dear, I’m so sorry, you’re perfectly right, I’ll never do it again.” was seen by Dad as being submissive and therefore he thought it painted a really sexist view of marriage. I always thought Wilma was condescendingly humoring Fred along! I never for a moment thought she meant it!

  16. Andy Laties says:

    >Wasn’t The Flintstones based on the Jackie Gleason TV show The Honeymooners? The formula involves TWO teams of comdedians. That is, the two husband/wife teams. I think this clarifies things: certainly both the Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) and the Ed Norton (played by Art Carney) characters were comic fools, who each were paired with “straightman” wives.

    That is: Audrey Meadows was a straightman matched with Jackie Gleason.

    Therefore, Wilma was the straightman in The Flintstones, while Fred Flintstone was her comic partner.

    HOWEVER, In the absence of the wives, during a Fred Flintstone=Barney Rubble scene (or, analogically, a Ralph Kramden=Ed Norton scene), I’d say that the Fred=Ralph figure becomes a straightman to the Barney=Ed figure.

    That may be the beauty of the formula, which was originally designed as a vehicle for showcasing the talents of the actor Jackie Gleason. The formula makes Jackie Gleason into both a comic fool (when in scenes with Audrey Meadows) AND ALSO a straightman (when in scenes with Art Carney). So — a typical show involved the Ralph=Fred figure being smarter than Ed=Barney as they carried off some crazy scheme, but then the straightman wives appeared, and the Ralph=Fred character takes the largest fall because he had started out thinking HE was the straightman.

    That’s my theory. I’d say that any “sexism” was an artifact, and that the principal mechanism was Commedia del Arte comic lazzi. The female characters in this kind of comic formula could just as easily be acted by men.

  17. >I enjoyed this whole line of discussion. The one thing we forget as adults is the great ability children have to ignore those things in books that adults find troubling or the great wisdom they have in understanding that something might not be quite right. I, for example, missed all the preaching in Little Women and just loved the books and remember having a negative reaction to Ma’s feelings about the Osage.

  18. rindawriter says:

    >Just as an additional note, no one, least of all Laura herself, has EVER debated the fictionalization element of the Little House books,nor the fact that she got a large amount of editorial help in writing them. BUT, again, these books are not strictly fiction. They fall again into that slippery realm between fiction and nonfiction narrative work (many examples elsewehre which are popular today)called “memoir.” Even MacCaulliffe himself accepts the nonfictional facts in Little House on the Prairie, that the Ingalls were there on that contested land in Kansas; that they did eye-witness the Osage leaving, in short that they existed in real life and were there. Laura’s memory was excelelnt. It was so true to “the facts” of her family living there that a later reseacher was able to locate the Ingalls home site in Kansas partly with the help of her descripton of the physical landscape in that book–which anyone can know if they took the time to research the wealth of factual historical data outside the books which is available on Laura and her family. Clearly, while Rose was an invasive editor and borrowed and invented her own stories from stories of her mother and while Rose was, no doubt a gifted writer and editor in her own way, this does not erase the truth of other facts, that Laura herself was a writer, and a good one, too, with a superb memory, in her other works that we have from her. The facts that Laura was bright, intellectually and that she was, again, a pratised and good observer with an excellent memory cannot be denied. I wonder how much many so-called “gifted” writers of today, like Laura, owe their final published success to the work of gifted and “invasive” eidtors?, too. Certainly, Katherine Paterson has acknowledged a debt to her own editors this way. Perhaps we alls should not get on our high horses and start sneering at the coopertaive work of Laura and Rose too quickly here.

    I’m not going to detail here the historical inaccuracies about the Ingalls family in Macaulliffe’s essay. I feel that people need to do their own research into the facts about the Ingalls family, re-read his essay, and then think it all through for themselves. I’m privately shocked at the lack of scholarship, however, on his part. It does nothing to convict or convince me of anyone’s being right or wrong–the writing only disgusts me and makes me feel very sad that his people, the Osage, have such a poor representation of their tribe in print. I first read his article wantign to know more about the Osage history and culture and individual stories of that time. I was painfully disappointed to find out that, instead, it is mostly a venting of hate against whites and the Ingalls family in partiuclar. No history is simple. No war is simple. There are no blacks and whites in real life. It is only when you get down to individual stories that you begin to truly understand the complexities of a historical time or event. And to walk away humbled. If Laura did not detail the physical facts about the behavior of those starving Osage warriors that took ALL of the family’s cornmeal on one occasion, a family themselves on the brink again and again of starvation,who else has written down this from the Osage tribe? Who else has put the memory down in print? And done it as well? And if a better histrical description exists about the Osage people’s starvation at that time, it NEEDS to get in print or be recorded orally from Osage tribal members, and it NEEDS to be made accessible to children–like Laura did it, however many faults we find in her writing.

    How many children in schools today would NOT know about those starving Osage warriors if Laura had not described them?

    And etc.

    Thanks again, Roger, for the bit of space here. I appreciate it.

  19. Andy Laties says:

    >Good points. Laura was a longtime newspaper columnist — you’re right than on lots of factual issues the books are quite strong. The fictionalization I recall Holtz singling out for mention had to do with changes Rose implemented that were designed to make the Ingalls family seem more isolated than they actually were. That is: at times when they had a fair number of relatively close neighbors, Rose altered the story so that they had few or none. Again — the factual background in general remained intact as her newspaper-writer mom had recalled it, but Rose fudged in order to advance her own ideology of Rugged Individualism.

    I think also that Holtz’s idea isn’t that there’s anything wrong with editorial intervention or collaboration, but rather that he was kind of breaking a story in reporting and documenting the great extent to which it had happened in the Little House books. I mean, Rose isn’t credited with this work. Katherine Paterson assuredly has never had the sort of intervention Holtz tells us that Laura Ingalls Wilder had from Rose. (And yet, as you point out, Katherine Paterson TALKS about her editors’ suggestions, which no doubt have been copious and interesting and helpful. Full disclosure, there. Of course, Paterson is the author and surely would have then written and rewritten while taking her editors’ suggestions into account.)

    Editorial intervention: now that’s quite an interesting subject, to be sure.

    For instance: a customer told me recently that Thomas Wolfe’s famous relationship with Maxwell Perkins was completely different than generally thought. The evidence: “Look Homeward, Angel” was apparently originally MUCH longer than its published version — Perkins took an ax to the book, and Wolfe was unhappy. A new edition has just been published (called “O, Lost”), based on the original manuscript. It’s a helluva lot longer and the guy who told me this story who is a Wolfe scholar thinks it’s much better. That is: the Wolfe scholars don’t necessarily like Perkins. (Maybe there’s a reason that editors keep their names off of books they’ve edited heavily. Their actions may be judged!)

    This — below — is an reader review of “O, Lost”. I suppose the implication of this review, for our discussion, is simply that the only way to judge Rose Wilder Lane’s intervention — it’s significance — would be to do a scholarly comparison of the original manuscripts as provided to her by her mom with the final books as published. Holtz did this, I sure haven’t.

    Here’s the reader review on “O, Lost”:
    As Pat Conroy writes on the rear jacket panel of this book, “‘O Lost’ is the greatest news for Thomas Wolfe lovers since the publication of ‘Look Homeward, Angel.'” The statement is not hyperbole. This is it—the original manuscript that Wolfe delivered to the offices of Scribners, the version around which have swirled controversies and questions ever since and yet which has remained unseen by the public until now. Was Thomas Wolfe a sort of idiot savant, a wildly impulsive and uncontrolled writer who desperately needed the firm professional hand of a Maxwell Perkins to bring form and control to his inspired ramblings? Or was he simply a genius, so far ahead of his time that even the likes of Perkins could not comprehend what he had in the innovative and unconventional manuscript of “O Lost”? On the basis of this new edition, it might be said that he was a bit of both.
    For the lover of “Look Homeward, Angel,” the tired phrase “essential reading” is an understatement. There is magnificent new material here (this version is 66,000 words longer than LHA). For me, the most notable appears at the beginning–a long section detailing the early life of W.O. Gant, lovingly rendered, heartbreakingly real, writing so vivid that it must be admitted that Perkins made a terrible mistake in cutting it; it is as good as anything Thomas Wolfe ever wrote. Too, the famous kaleidoscopic scene in which we see dozens of Altamont residents waking one morning in 1908 as newspapers are delivered is here much longer, much more inclusive, with far more wonderful character sketches–writing so pure that it seems to capture for all time what a certain time and place was.

    Now, in all fairness, it must be admitted that some of the new material is substandard. There are any number of self-referential jokey asides that Perkins was well-advised to eliminate; they are always mistakes. The material is also sometimes annoyingly disorganized, as in the beginning of Chapter 8, when Wolfe writes: “We believe, reader, we told you some time ago that Julia had meanwhile begun to think of Dixieland, but we have perhaps forgotten to mention that the foregoing conversation, as well as a number of the preceding events, took place in Dixieland, and that Julia had altogether ceased to live with Gant.” Well, gee! Thanks for telling us, Tom! This kind of thing is amateurish, and showed clearly that Wolfe did in fact benefit from editing.

    But how much? Alas, as a Thomas Wolfe devotee of many years, I cannot state that “O Lost” represents, for me, the definitive form of the manuscript. It is certainly the longest! But is it, as this edition’s editors claim, a “greater work” than LHA? I think that will be up to the individual reader. For me, there is a point at which “much” becomes “too much”; certainly a lot of the new sections in Part III are rather tedious (or perhaps only seem so because we’re used to the faster conclusion of LHA?). Despite the editors’ claims, for instance, I do not feel that the final, indelible scene between Eugene Gant and Ben’s ghost was “butchered” by Maxwell Perkins; indeed, I find the longer version presented here to be bloated and aimless, unlike the sharp and unforgettable version in LHA.

    In the end, the duel between “O Lost” and LHA should probably be called a draw. (The next time I read this novel, I suspect I will utilize the standard LHA edition–but with frequent consultations to “O Lost.”) Remember, Wolfe worked closely with Perkins and accepted his edits, so LHA should in no way be considered a bastardized or incorrect version of the author’s intentions. But the joy here is that readers can, at last, decide for themselves. Thank you, Arlyn and Matthew J. Bruccoli, for preparing this new edition. Every lover of Thomas Wolfe is in your debt.

  20. rindawriter says:

    >Yes interesting, very interesting indeed! Huge, huge topic, the editor/author relationship/collaboration.
    Rose’s invasive editorializing of her mother’s work doesn’t bother me so much as to see Holtz, an English professor, who is not an expert in psychology, not a highly trained, reputable knowledgeable psychiatrist, spoutin pff such superior “know-it-all” authoritative commments on the psychological aspects of the Rose-Laura relationship.

    First off, he’s not a woman; he doesn’t know, first-hand, himself, the complexities of a complex mother/daughter love/hate relationship as only mothers and daughters can know(and ceratinly I have had a complex enough one of my own as a woman with my own mother. Whom I dearly love. Whom I sincerely respect, but…its complex, and feelings run high sometimes.) Only the rare truly senstive, empathetic man could possibly begin to undrestand….

    Sure, Holtz knows the material ge, but that also doesn’t mean he has himself the talent or ability or expertise needed to give a perceptive, authentic, reliable psychological interpretation of that relationship! He’s an English professor, not a trained psychaitrist! I want to see the expert opinion, please! Not some intellectual spouting off about a topic he’s not expert about! Intellectually or in real life!

    I would point out one thing Holtz misses (and speaking from my own mother/daughter epxeriences here as well) that Laura and Rose had two very differnt upbringings, psychologcally. Laura was constantly moved, uprooted into different living enviorments as a child (epsecially if you read the historical data on her life). Rose grew up for most of her childhood safe, secure, in one environment. Rose was the oldest and only child, and all Laura’s and Manzo’s attention was focused on just her. Laura was a second child in a family of four girls and one dead baby brother, and had to share attention from her parents. Laura had, early on, far more responsiblity shoved onto her shoulders as a young girl than Rose did, in caring for the other family members; Laura was out and already earning her own money far earlier than Rose did. And Rose, to my mind, was rather spoiled, self centered, very bright intellectually and poor in life experience, contrasted to Laura, and by age 17, Rose had also well run through any educational services available to her close to her parents. I also think that, consequently, Rose NEVER understood or could truly identify with her parents’ love for and dsire to stay on their own farm, their own land, for which they had struggled so hard. At 17, Rose was bored in a world that was her parents’ whole life, and 17 was not, by far, too young an age to get married back then. Laura was married at barely 18. Girls didn’t have this prolonged, over-sexualized period of adolescence, of being a “teenager, as we do in our society today. They were women, and treated as fully adult women by 15, 16, easily back then.

    I recommend intensive re-reading of the books and the historical data, including Holtz’ work, and you might see what I see, that these were two very strong women, but Rose was the more blatently selfish, the pushy one to get her own way, the more needy one, psycholgocially. And the more shallow, the less complex of the two. And Rose could not, could not understand her parents’ mind frames. How could she? They went trhough adversities she could never begint to comprehend.

    Okay, we’ve probably “messed” up this part of Roger’s sandbox pretty good by now..time to let others play…

  21. Andy Laties says:

    >Ha! No-one’s playing here but us by now!

    I think this is a great analysis. I’d extend it by recalling that Holtz — at least in my recollection of his talk, in 1993 — really loved his subject, Rose Wilder Lane. He was clearly very taken with her. I suppose this happens to many biographers. They fall in love with their subjects. I remember his speech included a rather lengthy anecdote about Rose sending a package back from China to America, and she used tea as a packing material, but the recipients (her family) were stupid and didn’t realized that the tiny sculpture or whatever that was at the very center of the package was WHAT she was sending. They thought she was sending them a gigantic box of tea. I think they threw away the objet-d’art she’d sent?? Can’t recall. But anyhow, he was clearly quite taken with the image of Adventurous Rose Wilder Lane zipping around Mongolia or wherever on camels and being down and out in all the cool places worldwide.

    So — I think this does argue as you suggest that he may be over-simplifying what happened in the creation of the books, and handing her too much credit. And certainly his sympathies are rather dispassionately distributed.

    Happy New Year!

  22. Andy Laties says:

    >Woops, I meant that his sympathes are NOT dispassionately distributed.

  23. rindawriter says:

    >I enjoyed “messing” ’round with you! We’ll have to do it some more….Roger’s box was getting TOO tidy…..not enough sand getting thrown over the side…and…etc…..

  24. Gaynor Scott says:

    >Can anyone help me with my dissertation. I am looking into gender, race and class stereotyping in children’s literature and how authors (like Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman etc) have gone about changing our ideas of it. Any info on racist, sexist etc content in Enid Blytons books and also modern day books that may still be in print etc would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind