‘Oh great,’ you’re thinking, ‘another witty endeavor where a Goodreader reflects back on a childhood favorite. Oh joy.'
Well, suck it up and deal.
A-hem ‘Oh great,’ you’re thinking, ‘another witty endeavor where a Goodreader reflects back on a childhood favorite. Oh joy.'
Well, suck it up and deal.
A-hem… While rifling through the book section at my local Goodwill; I came across this little gem. Copyright 1980, Little Golden Books® edition complete with all our favorite characters outlining the back cover… The Tawny Scrawny Lion, Tootle, The Poky Little Puppy… that famous gold-foil binding (seriously, it says so… right on the back!) A little girl even signed her name! Natalia (you just know she had one of those stage moms cramming her Airabesques down her throat before a Nutcracker performance... you can just see it...)
Anyway… I grabbed this treasure and let out a little yip of delight. God, I LOVED this book! And what a cool edition! So, I paid my 99 cents and skittered on home to *share* with my kids. Bonding! Instant Memories! Up your a**, Norman Rockwell!
Clearly, my children have been brainwashed by sponges named Bob and Hedgehogs wearing gloves and little pokey-things. But, I didn’t give up… I found the correct remote(s), shut down all things electronic, sat them down in a semi circle at my feet---and with a relish unbeknownst to even myself--- read them this mutha-f**king classic!
“So? Huh? Whaddya think? Huh? Well?’
Emily (15): What’s wrong with you?
Marley (11): That was weird.
Isabel (9): I LOVED it! It was AWESOME!
Satchel (5): Can I play the Wii now?
Disenchantment. Exasperation. Fail.
I reread the book again. I could taste the trust...the anticipation as we defy Grover and turn the page, the tickling blue fur and purple spongy nose that I fell in love with... I could feel it all.
Then I read it again.
Okay, why is this so endearing to me? I scanned my memory banks… did Mom or Dad read this to me? Hell no.. they never read to me… Was it a beloved teacher? My very own Montambo? Gah… no…. where the hell did I first read this? Was it when I was older and thought it would make me cool to revisit my youthful Sesame Street Days? Could be… sounds a bit cliché for me, but okay…
Then I read it again….
This book is freaking mental. I mean throughout the whole book you’re being told that you shouldn’t turn the page because there’s a freaking monster at the end of it. Why do you keep turning the damn page? Is it the font? Is it the colorful print? Is it all the attempts that Grover makes to NOT make you turn the page? Rope and wood and bricks and nails and… Why didn’t this book scare the hell out of me? I’m a nervous Nellie by nature. Why didn’t I throw this book in the basement with the crickets and the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass albums?
Okay, I get it… it’s supposed to teach kids to not judge and to not be afraid and to take a chance. Okay… but after a lifetime of disappointments and negative illuminations… this book leads to an anxiety attack. No double rainbows today.
I read this as a book club book with my 9 year old. Man, this is deep... I'm surprised that they let 3rd graders read this stuff... I was almost in teI read this as a book club book with my 9 year old. Man, this is deep... I'm surprised that they let 3rd graders read this stuff... I was almost in tears.. maybe I think that 9 yr olds aren't as tough as they are. It is a sweet book that gets across the point that painfully paints growing up as 'different'. I wouldn't recommend it for kids under 9, but what do I know?...more
Remember back when you were 10 and the most important thing was a) being a world renowned hula hooper and b) marrying Davy Jones? If so… email me, we Remember back when you were 10 and the most important thing was a) being a world renowned hula hooper and b) marrying Davy Jones? If so… email me, we must be twins separated by fate.
Remember when you would rush off with your friends after school, without proper outdoor attire, no helmet as you straddle your ten speed, no cell phone with a GPS chip so your parents always know where you are… the only caution being from Officer Friendly to not talk to strangers and avoid starting forest fires? Or something like that?
Remember when being a kid meant that there were bullies that made fun of you but no one killed themselves or shot up their schools or staged a sit in about it. You just cornered them in the playground and swung your Holly Hobby tin lunchbox as hard as you could into their smug little faces?
Remember when the phrase ‘I have to take my meds’ didn’t mean anything to you?
Hazel probably doesn’t and that’s sad. It’s sad that kids can’t be kids anymore. Yes, a tired thought… I remember when we were princesses and our friends’ older brothers were evil wizards and we had to fight them off with fairy dust (sand) and how they would always end up claiming a super power and running away. We didn’t think much of video games, maybe a game of pong after dinner… But, that would be hours and hours away and we wouldn’t show up at home until way after dark and our parents weren’t organizing search parties and finding the locations of sex offenders in our neighborhood.
Hazel does try to maintain those golden moments. She has a best friend, Jack, who lives next door and he draws castles and invents arch enemies and they play super hero baseball and hand out in abandoned shacks. Hazel feels like she belongs when she’s with Jack. Belongs…. To what? To where? I guess to anyone/thing/place. Being ten and having to deal with what multiple choice questions and math problems and all that can be being 10. Especially when you are dreaming about traveling to the earth’s molten core and then the arctic and then through space and beyond.
Hazel and Jack are alike. Hazel’s dad left. Jack’s mom is depressed and is only able to maintain being a shell of what she was.
And then the story gets real. With a journey through the woods. For Jack, it’s to forget about all that’s bad. For Hazel, it’s to get her best friend back. There are witches who wear swanskins, woodsmen who leave ballet shoes for lost girls, fates who like shiny things, a birdkeeper and his bird sister, a man and woman who turn little girls into flowers so that they will not leave them. Then there is the Ice Queen. Who offers Jack a ‘palace of ice and a heart to match.’ ”Sometimes, it seems like it would be easier to give yourself to the ice.”
Hazel will not give up. “You’re Jack,” she said, putting the mirror in front of him. “Jack Campbell. Do you see?” And you are made of baseball and superheroes and castles and lots of Hazels-past, even if you lost them to the wind, it doesn’t matter.”
Hazel is my hero. I would not fit in with her in a superfast minute. ...more