Children’s Classics

I just read “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” for the first time. As a child, one of my favourite films was the Judy Garland musical with its catchy tunes and camp characters. I admit, the magic faded as I grew older, but I could still appreciate the sophistication of the film craft achieved for its time. What I hadn’t released until now was just how much was removed from the original text.

For instance, there’s a load of violence in this story, much more than I would have expected for a kid’s book. The woodsman decapitates creatures, the lion pounces on a giant spider and rips its head off, the porcelain cow gets its leg broken off, etc etc. The witch hardly features in the book until the end. The terrors come on the road and not from any witches’ spell. The Wizard is a charlatan, but his tricks are more elaborate and drawn out. In other words, the whole book is more complex than the saccharine Hollywood version.

I was impressed. It also made me realise that there are other classic children’s books that I’ve never read and need to get to. I imagine I got most of my fairy tale stories from Hollywood and Disney. Something tells me that there is a lot more dark fable kicking around out there than I had previously thought and this warrants investigation.

Have you ever read a book as a child and revisited it as an adult? Did you find something new that might have passed you buy upon the first reading because you were too naive to catch it?

Although I have a reading list that is never ending as it is, I intend to reread and discover stories from my childhood that I might have glossed over in years past. Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, Pullman and C.S. Lewis need to be paid a visit. Some will be a revisit, others will be discovery, but I guarantee I will enjoy them all the more now that I know what I’m looking for.

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