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Reading Children's Books as an Adult - the Things You See Differently

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  • Reading Children's Books as an Adult - the Things You See Differently

    I recently found the whole Bonnie series about Sunbonnet the race mare and her owner Julie. Remembered loving those as a kid. So I snapped it up and was happily reading.

    Good and enjoyable stories, though a bit dated and naive now, and it's odd how every single thing in Julie's life turned into a mystery.

    But the thing that pulled me up totally short last night was something I don't even remember blinking at as a kid. In Filly of the Year, Bonnie is retired with an injury (with nefarious back story attached) and goes to be bred (with nefarious back story soon to be revealed at the breeding farm). She goes to the leading sire, big, high-powered Kentucky farm.

    Julie misses her mare and wants to go check on her after a month. So Julie drives over to the big-name farm on a Sunday afternoon and takes along her beagle puppy. She checks in at the gatehouse, says she knows the barn Bonnie is in, and drives merrily through the grounds to the broodmare barn. Not a soul seems to be around. She gets out of the car and PUTS DOWN HER PUPPY. This is a dog without any apparent efforts at training (though Julie thinks without a scrap of evidence she was "very responsible" by nature) and who is off leash. A beagle, with the nose that overpowers all common sense. Julie then LEAVES THE PUPPY LOOSE and takes herself into the barn to say hi to Bonnie. When she's ready to leave, of course, the puppy has gone off on some scent. Julie chases her. This leads her to meeting the Mysterious Stud Groom and the Mysterious Other Stallion, which eventually play into the nefarious back story.

    A week later, Julie and Bonnie's trainer return to the farm so he can meet the MSG and MOS. Again, the place is deserted except for the gate guard, again beagle is put down off leash outside Bonnie's barn, and again, the puppy goes scenting off. They ultimately find the puppy in another barn, leading to Big Clues.

    All a pleasant read, but the point that struck me now as a farm owner that NEVER crossed my mind in 4th grade was, "She took her off-leash puppy, a BEAGLE puppy, to a major stud farm without advance notice or permission and just set the dog down while she did other things herself? TWICE???"

    Can you imagine dropping in on Claiborne unannounced and just setting your untrained and unrestrained puppy down unattended while you went off looking at horses?

    Yet that never caught my eye back in my original reading. Not from the farm owner's POV or a liability mindset, though even as a kid, I probably wouldn't have done that if I'd had a dog and definitely not done it again after the dog ran off once.

    Funny, the points that jump out of children's books at you on rereading after some extended exposure to the real horse/farm world.

  • #2
    Back then Beagles behaved better!
    Originally posted by BigMama1
    Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
    GNU Terry Prachett

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
      Back then Beagles behaved better!
      Not ours! Our Master of Beagles' oft-repeated phrase to Us Whips:

      "Stop 'em if you can before they get out on '84!!"

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4


        My SIL loves beagles and has a few, so I've met hers since reading originally. We had a few non-beagle family dogs while I was growing up, though many dogless years, too, but even when we had them, the pets did not go places with us, so my education on etiquette there wasn't given.

        I've also had the joy of dodging a few on the road (when a beagle is on a scent, little things like a car horn while he's snuffling down the middle of the road simply do NOT compute).

        It's fun rediscovering some of these kids books as I refind them and discover "new" elements in them that simply didn't get my attention then. I remember a recent thread on Golden Sovereign.

        Another thing I noticed this time in the Bonnie book is that this top, leading race sire was standing for I think it was $20,000. Gasp! This was cited as evidence of how cream of the crop and top class he was. Obviously written LONG before the days of Storm Cat and company.

        Comment


        • #5
          I loved those books when I was a kid!! Now you have piqued my interest and I will check them out on kindle!

          Comment


          • #6
            In retrospect a shockingly large number of them seem to feature a plucky orphan who acquires a horse against all odds and despite total lack of funds manages to win everything in sight. I read one recently that was new--published in the last couple of years-- and the girl got a catch ride on Idle Dice (!) in a Maclay qualifier. IDEK.

            Comment


            • #7
              But I think the reality would be really depressing. Fabulously rich, skinny girl starts out at age 4 in the small pony hunters and wins every single equitation honor at age 13, then goes on to compete in Nations Cup at age 14 and wins Olympic medal at age 16... Nobody would read such a book.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Highflyer View Post
                In retrospect a shockingly large number of them seem to feature a plucky orphan who acquires a horse against all odds and despite total lack of funds manages to win everything in sight. I read one recently that was new--published in the last couple of years-- and the girl got a catch ride on Idle Dice (!) in a Maclay qualifier. IDEK.
                Hey, "plucky orphans" (or working students) have major motivation! Unlike debutante trustafarians . . .

                Comment


                • #9
                  In the next Sunbonnet book (can't think of the name of it but it's when Bonnie is bred and has her foal and there's another mystery going on at a farm nearby) she keeps the dog on leash more but it still consistently gets loose and gets into trouble. Apparently Julie is a slow learner.
                  It's not about the color of the ribbon but the quality of the ride. Having said that, I'd like the blue one please!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I remember thinking how cool life was in the Little House on the Prairie books. From an adult perspective, I see how Pa couldn't succeed in business if he was the only saloon keeper in a gold rush town. Moving the family from place to place because he couldn't earn a living. Poor Ma.

                    I was (mentally) ready to make myself an orphan along the lines of A Little Princess or A Secret Garden. Who cares that my parents and 4 siblings would have to die?

                    I will admit, even I could see the poor logic in Alec Ramsey thinking about how he could kill the Black and eat him. The horse would spoil in a couple days and he'd back were he started.

                    StG

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by StGermain View Post
                      I remember thinking how cool life was in the Little House on the Prairie books. From an adult perspective, I see how Pa couldn't succeed in business if he was the only saloon keeper in a gold rush town. Moving the family from place to place because he couldn't earn a living. Poor Ma.

                      I was (mentally) ready to make myself an orphan along the lines of A Little Princess or A Secret Garden. Who cares that my parents and 4 siblings would have to die?

                      I will admit, even I could see the poor logic in Alec Ramsey thinking about how he could kill the Black and eat him. The horse would spoil in a couple days and he'd back were he started.

                      StG
                      I had the same experience with the Little House on the Prairie books. I loved those books as a kid. Now, as an adult, all I can think about the LHOP books is how Ma and the children had to suffer by all those moves and subsequent downward mobility due to what appears to be Pa's frequent manic episodes.

                      Even as a kid, the idea of the Black being allowed to race in Jockey Club races seemed unlikely. The Island Stallion books for some reason seemed totally realistic to me when I was reading them as a kid.
                      PA Hi-Ly Visible [PA Hi-Noon (by Magnum Psyche) x Takara Padrona (by *Padron)]

                      Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I often read children's books and nursery rhymes to people nearing the end of life; even people with advanced dementia sometimes seem to respond to nursery rhymes and Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. No one wants to hear Tolstoy or Ayn Rand in their final days. Nope; "Bedtime for Frances," "Winnie the Pooh," "Wind in the Willows", "Charlotte's Web," and "Ferdinand the Bull" are where it's at.

                        The sad thing I notice when re-reading some children's stories from the 60s (when I was a child) and earlier is racism.... I can barely get through "The Secret Garden" because of the colonialism toward India, and I used to love love love that book. There is a series of books about a character named Tom Swift, from the early 1900s, and my 9-yo son loves them and they're pretty cool, but the dialect attributed to people of color is cringe-worthy.

                        But, I loved Julie and Sunbonnet!! But, didn't Julie have a Newfoundland named Pushy? Maybe that was someone else. I also loved the books where Town Girl Visiting Country Family for the Summer inevitably ended up falling in love with the horse in the neighbor's pasture, and that led to a romance with the horse's "dreamy" male owner (we're talking late 1940s, 1950s). Horse's name in one of the books was Golden Boy. Those were the days.... :-)
                        Last edited by SharonA; Feb. 15, 2014, 09:42 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I've read many of them again as an adult, and although I TRY to put myself back in the mindframe with which I first read and loved them, interesting things do stick out. For example, the Misty books - the granpa had such an old world way of speaking, I forget now some of the euphimisms he used, but I realized rereading that, that it was where my brother and I got some funny mannerisms we would use, and still fall into talking like that when we see each other, although I had forgotten where it came from. Same with the Beverly Hillbillies. "Ahm a commin', Granny!" and "That there them boys."

                          The brutality of Black Beauty didn't register on me at the time that it does now as an adult. I can hardly read it, I feel so awful for the horses, especially poor Ginger. I was very worried when I first was being taught to longe my horse in side reins, until I understood what I was doing, so upset was I by the description of putting Ginger in a tight head set for the carriage. Poor thing, she loved to hunt, so, and her first master was so kind to her and loved her so much. Now I'm all upset.

                          I have to say, the race descriptions by Walter FArley in the Black Stallion books still thrill me, and are so effective and well written that my memory of them has been a benchmark for me reading any other description of a race, even today.
                          My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Same reaction here to LHOP.

                            As a child, I remember being annoyed when My Friend Flicka got into Nell and Rob. I wanted to get back with Flicka and Banner and the horses. Rereading as an adult, I can appreciate so many more of the undertones in the story, how Rob was quite similar to Ken, actually, and feel sorry for Nell, trying to steady both of those two dreamers. I really think Flicka is not in fact a children's book. There is a lot of depth in there.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              When I was told to read The Red Pony in Junior High, I was horrified. I was disgusted, and all I could think was how damaged I was by having to read it. I realted many times after, through out my young adult life how utterly irresponsible it was to have put that book into my head. I could have lived my entire life, I claimed, never having read it, and be just fine, thank you. Then, to my utter horror, my own children were required to read it themselves in Junior high. If I had found out before they'd cracked the book, I might have even taken the book back to the teacher, but they'd already read it before I knew it. They agreed, a horrid, awful, awful story nobody ever needed to know. As you can see, I haven't been able to unread that book, even to this day. That, and some story about a boy and a deer.
                              PS I am not one of those people who believes that books should in any way be censored, at home or at school. I was just aghasted by that particular book, it was so sad and miserable! I am certain somewhere there is someone who thinks its a valuable book to have in their literary repetoir. Just not me, thanks!
                              My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by dressagetraks View Post


                                I noticed this time in the Bonnie book is that this top, leading race sire was standing for I think it was $20,000. Gasp! This was cited as evidence of how cream of the crop and top class he was. Obviously written LONG before the days of Storm Cat and company.
                                Oh, no. I'm sure that translates pretty accurately to today's stud fees in today's dollars!
                                My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  HATED the Red Pony. In childhood. I never have reread it as an adult and never intend to.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by SharonA View Post
                                    I often read children's books and nursery rhymes to people nearing the end of life; even people with advanced dementia sometimes seem to respond to nursery rhymes and Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. No one wants to hear Tolstoy or Ayn Rand in their final days. Nope; "Bedtime for Frances," "Winnie the Pooh," "Wind in the Willows", "Charlotte's Web," and "Ferdinand the Bull" are where it's at.

                                    The sad thing I notice when re-reading some children's stories from the 60s (when I was a child) and earlier is racism.... I can barely get through "The Secret Garden" because of the colonialism toward India, and I used to love love love that book. There is a series of books about a character named Tom Swift, from the early 1900s, and my 9-yo son loves them and they're pretty cool, but the dialect attributed to people of color is cringe-worthy.

                                    But, I loved Julie and Sunbonnet!! But, didn't Julie have a Newfoundland named Pushy? Maybe that was someone else. I also loved the books where Town Girl Visiting Country Family for the Summer inevitably ended up falling in love with the horse in the neighbor's pasture, and that led to a romance with the horse's "dreamy" male owner (we're talking late 1940s, 1950s). Horse's name in one of the books was Golden Boy. Those were the days.... :-)
                                    SharonA- I recall a horse named Golden Boy in what sounds like that very story. Did he reach into an open window to wake up the main character? And was the "dreamboat" named Walt? It was in the American Girl Book of Horse Stories, along with some other good ones.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by dressagetraks View Post
                                      HATED the Red Pony. In childhood. I never have reread it as an adult and never intend to.
                                      Yeah, it was one of those things, I want the time back I spend reading. Never made any sense to me.
                                      Originally posted by BigMama1
                                      Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                                      GNU Terry Prachett

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Also HATED The Red Pony - I can still picture Gabilan's death scene mentally & it still makes me ill.

                                        DT: the other book you mentioned is The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings & it was made into a wonderful movie with Henry Fonda, Jane Wyman & Claude Jarman Jr.
                                        Even though it has a terrible Old Yeller-like ending I have loved it since I was a kid & still do.
                                        So beautifully shot in the Florida Everglades it made me want to live there.
                                        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                                        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                                        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                                        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

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