Book Club Readings

This week was a nice change of pace, with the readings picked by our clasmates. I’m really curious to see how book clubs will go, especially since the readings are fairly diverse. I’ve got a bit to say about each one.

“The Fisherman and His Wife”

It’s been a while since I read this story, but it’s a pretty good one. The wife in this story definitely feels entitle to have more and more, not taking time to be grateful that the flounder her husband caught got them out of poverty and got her increasingly elaborate homes and jobs. It speaks to the commercial time we live in, where we’re always encouraged to want more and more instead of being happy with what we have. I think this will also be an interesting story in the context of our discussion of privilege a few weeks ago that arose from the “I Will Change the World” shirts..

“Parrot Land”

This story was interesting because I had never heard it before. It was a little meta at first due to the “story in a story” thing. It was closer to a fable than a fairy tale to me because it gave you the moral outright: “One sees from this, dear Princess, that virtue has its own reward” (132). Again, I think this will be a good discussion piece because of the moral and how it is manifested in the story.

“The Duration of Life”

One more fairy tale! And another that I wasn’t familiar with. But this story was pretty great. I didn’t know where it was going at the start. I like how instead of just a moral tale, it’s kind of explanatory, with why people are the way they are at certain ages. It was pretty clever, moving from human to the service years of the ass to the grumpy years of the dog and the silly years of the monkey.

“The Man who Built Catan”

Confession: I have never played Settlers of Catan. But I have heard of it, and I saw it on Parks & Rec (which got a shout-out in the article). I was glad that the article explained the game, since I didn’t know what it was like. It sounds fascinating – I definitely want to try it! I also like that the game is all about the social aspect and the physical space, which isn’t always found or valued in our somewhat isolated lives in a digital world.


2 thoughts on “Book Club Readings

  1. Do you think “modern” retelling of fairy tales warrant the same classification as the “classic originals”? I ask because it is interesting to me what “counts” as a fairy tale; Gregory Maguire’s books come to mind, particularly the very popular Son of Witch trilogy which led to the very popular broadway show Wicked. Frozen, another retelling of a classic fairy tale, has the same moral lessons as the original Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, I believe. As someone who is going to be a school librarian, how do you think you’ll describe fairy tales to your students? Will you make a distinction between originals and remakes? Do you think its important? Necessary?

    • One thing that’s interesting about all of the fairy tale adaptations that have been happening lately is that they are the “original” versions for most kids – the ones they are exposed to before the versions that were collected by Perrault, Grimm, and others that first wrote down these stories. We talked about it a little bit in several of my children’s literature classes in undergrad. I think I would try to show them some of the originals (depending on the age of the students, of course, since some are pretty gruesome) and talk about what the originals and adaptations have in common and what is different. This could then get into a discussion of the society reflected in these different texts, whether they are stories, films, or whatever else they might be. It would work better with older students (probably high school), but I think even elementary students can be introduced to the ideas of adaptation and conventions through books like David Wiesner’s “The Three Pigs” (a Caldecott-winning picture book that plays with many conventions of fairy tales and of narrative).

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