Monthly Archives: February 2012
In “How I met your mother” (it’s true, every once in a while when I am not working or reading to my daughter I watch something on television) they play a game called “drunk or kid?” (Marshall reveals stupid things he has done and everyone has to guess if he was drunk or a kid). Sometimes there are monsters, bears, dinosaurs, etc. in my daughter’s books that seem to represent toddlers or kids. They are unreasonable, do not listen, shout, slur their words, do not do what they are supposed to, demand specific foods, refuse to sleep, sleep in strange places… You see where I am going with this. In a new poll series (“Toddler or Drunk”), vote whether or not the image looks like it represents a drunk guy or a toddler. Your response probably reveals which one you spend more time around these days.
That’s right! It is a whole series of posts about being eaten! From children in ovens, to grandmothers in wolves, to polite carnivores, to. . . reality? In a number of books animals talk about how humans are going to eat them. In Jan Brett’s Hedgie’s Surprise, Tomten eats hen’s eggs. He doesn’t only eat them, he asks her each morning, “Henny! Have you got a little yummy for my hungry, hungry tummy?” Hen doesn’t really mind that her babies are being eaten (or that Tomten just seems generally really annoying) until she sees Goosey-Goosey’s goslings, her biological clock starts ticking (or whatever it is that happens to hens that want to have babies instead of letting them be eaten), and then she tries to find a way to save her eggs. In Ruth V. Gross’s retelling of The Bremen Town Musicians, the rooster worries about having his head chopped off and being put into soup. Humans (or human like creatures in the case of Tomten) are inherently bad in many of these tales, partially because of their cruelty to animals. And, by cruelty I mean completely normal behavior.
If the world represented in children’s books somehow became real, someone would probably ask to eat you at least once a week. I am unsure what is more disturbing, the act or the courtesy with which the question is usually posed. In Maurice Sendak’s Pierre: A cautionary tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue (the moral is, “care,” and it is fantastic) the lion not only repeatedly asks Pierre if he would mind being eaten, but also explains “And then you will be inside of me.” I guess if I were going to be consumed, I would appreciate the honesty? Big Black Bear (who is not really that big, he’s only three years old) informs his host-prey-friend that he has eaten other girls in Wong Herbert Yee’s Big Black Bear. In Martin Waddell and Leonie Lord’s The Super Hungry Dinosaur the dinosaur (who is super hungry) asks Hal if he could eat him, his mom, his dad, or his dog (strangely Hal replies no to all requests).
At the end of these stories the would-be-eater and the would-be-eaten usually end up friends. Manners will get you everywhere.
What would scare you more, someone trying to eat you or someone politely requesting to do so?
The ending of this version of Little Red Riding Hood, by Andrea Wisnewksi (retold and illustrated) scares me because it is what I imagine my daughter’s grandma (my mom) would do if she were recently cut out of a wolf’s stomach: offer my daughter something to eat or a fun game to play. Why sit and recover from having recently been digested if you could instead whip a little something up for your darling granddaughter?