The tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge is enshrined in our holiday traditions. You cannot turn on the television without seeing a remake of this classic tale. It is performed in playhouses across the world. It is even captured in our vocabulary of the season. . . "Don't be such a Scrooge."
Yet. . If you have not read the original tale written by Charles Dickens then you are missing out.
The tale is a novella. It is rather short and I finished it this time around in just two hours. However, even after reading it for every holiday season since Jr. High I still enjoy the way that brilliantness of the words and the mastery of the world building. Dickens is one of my favorite writers, and this work is no exception.
I remember the first time I was introduced to A Christmas Carol. It was in Jr. High where one of my teachers wrote "Any idiot who goes around with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!" That teacher was a bit of a Scrooge himself, but as an adult I would be in his place also. While the quote was meant as an anti holiday statement, it started my love for Charles Dickens.
If you have not read A Christmas Carol - the actual novella by Charles Dickens - then I strongly urge you to do so!
This is a collection of all short stories by Beatrix Potter, including her tales of Peter Rabbit. The stories are geared towards children and often feature personified animals. Occasionally the stories also feature children. If there are adults in the stories they seem to be the villain.
These stories were first published over a hundred years and you can tell. Some stories seem to withstand time, these do not. While I read some Beatrix Potter to my children, it never was something that I found enjoyable. Neither did my children seem to attach to the stories. However, when I read them all the way through as an adult I decided that I honestly do not enjoy them.
The stories are of animals who wear clothes, talk, and smoke. Yet, they are also treated as animals by the humans at the same time. It was an awkward distinction for me. Also, the stories never really seemed to go anware. The topics are awkward, one rabbit went to save his children from a fox who planned on eating them. Maybe if there was a point at the end it would be less weird. Yet, there is not. It is just tales of weird interactions.
I may be in the minority on my views of this book. Many others seem to treasure the tales. They are even being made into a movie. For me, these stories were not what I would pick to have still been around a hundred years later.
I have read plenty of Roald Dahl's books in the past. He is the author of one of my favorite books as a child - Matilda. I do not object to his writing. However, this book is not one of his bests. For some reason, I never read James and the Giant Peach as a child. I am uncertain how that happened. It is one of the few chapter books that my middle child has read from cover to cover. Reading it I understand why. My daughter does not like books with conflict in them. I mean any kind of conflict. This book really fits that description. There are a few scenes that describe the group getting out of tricky situations, but it was not really conflict. No one really grew and developed in this book.
I am a pretty easy going reader. I am not a huge fan of a lot of things, but if it has a place in a novel then I will not knock a book down for it. This book had a lot of things that just were not needed. I would blame the time it was written or the author, but none of this has been a concern in any of the other Dahl books I have read. James's aunts are shamed for being both too fat and too skinny. Yes, they are deplorable human beings, but what does shaming their weight have to do with that? There is a completely inappropriate remark about the grasshopper and Mexicans. The cloud men are all men, the women are tucked up in the giant cloud city with all of the cloud children. To top it off there is no growth in any of the characters.
The dialogue was boring, the adventure not all that entertaining, and the ending had me facepalming myself. This is, obviously, not my favorite book. However, there are some really good facts about insects in the book.
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