i’ve said this before. prolly say it again.
so cv and i just finished a couple books. the great road trip of 2011 got us back in the habit of reading aloud a chapter or two (or five) before bed. which is lovely. the past week we finished two. both were purchased at powell’s while we were in pdx, in fact. we went there lots while we were there…and everyone got lost in their own aisle and read and read and read. and each time we left with at least a book a piece. usually more than that, tho.
so. so nancy drew.
now, i can tolerate a little pollyanna — i don’t know. maybe i can’t. but it really was a good mystery for most of the book. i even got through all the ultra pure accounts of each daily meal, church going and sweet as applepie boy/girl encounters. and i’m not saying anything surprising here. we all know that nancy drew and the hardy boys are whiter and purer than snow. but in the last chapter it wraps up with the girl who was trapped in the attic of the house and watching her two children that she lost a year earlier because she and her husband were around a campfire while her kids were sleeping in a tent and a car came and swerved off the road and ran over the parents and they were taken to the hospital and the kids were left unnoticed in the tent and the husband later died in the hospital and she gets her memory back and goes on a search for her kids and then finds them at her childhood home that has now been rented by a surly bunch of wannabe acrobats that are forcing her kids to learn the trade while making pirated records to sell and she figures out their illegal schemes so they lock her in a room for a few months only to untie her to feed her and and and and eventually nancy drew and her friend gets tied up with the other girl and shoved into a room to rot and i’m thinking that must have felt pretty dang dire at times for her and maybe i’ve watched too many tarantino or rodriguez movies, but one thing i do know is that it usually doesn’t turn out so great for the bound and gagged woman separated from her friends and family. …
and not that i expected nancy drew to go all tarantino on their asses but even a “wow, that really sucked being bound and gagged up in an attic room for a few months while watching my kids get thrown around by my captors, and i was really scared” would have been infinitely better than “just tucked the kids all snug and happy in bed and now i’m back to plan the morning breakfast with you all in this house of bad mojo.” cv kept asking me what was going on, i think because it was so tidy and neat it just didn’t make any sense. she couldn’t believe the story was over and thought the mystery still hadn’t been solved. especially with all of the good build up, we felt a bit bewildered.
no, they wrapped it up, love.
because kids can take a little more discomfort than that. case in point:
and i’ll be honest, a tale dark and grimn really does land on the other end of the spectrum in terms of scrubbed clean (nancy drew) and tarantino-lite for kids (this book). it can get pretty dang gruesome. as do the grimm fairy tales in the original, tho. sometimes gil would sit in on a reading and give me the “whatthehellareyoudoingtoourchild?” look. it is awesome and i’m not going to go into the details of the story except to say that it’s a retelling of hansel and gretel and winding together a bunch of familiar grimm fairy tales and it all does work out really well in the end…except everyone’s a little older and wiser. or something.
“…There is a certain kind of pain that can change you Even the strongest sword, when placed in a raging fire, will soften and bend and change its form. So it was with Hansel. The fire of guilt and shame was just that hot.
Trust me on this one. I know this from personal experience. I hope that you never will, but, since you’re a person, and therefore prone to making horrible, soul-splitting mistakes, you probably will one day know what this kind of guilt and shame feels like. And when that time comes, I hope you have the strength, as Hansel had, to take advantage of the fire and reshape your own sword.” *
“I don’t know.
I mean, what does under-standing have to do with returning to your family? Or cutting off your finger have to do with turning into a wild beast? What does an old crone with a shackle on her leg have to do with Faithful Johannes? Or three black ravens with cages full of white doves? Why is the moon creepy and cold, when the stars are bright and kind? Why was the widow a good parent, and yet no more able to protect Gretel than the bad parents? What did all of this mean — these strange, scary, dark, grim tales?
I told you already. I don’t know.
Besides, even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.
You see, to find the brightest wisdom one must pass through the darkest zones. And through the darkest zones there can be no guide.”**
ok. that was long and indulgent on my part but i enjoyed it tremendously. so you know. and actually, we bought two nancy drew books — i was so nostagic when we found the whole slew of them in that aisle. so in a while we’ll read “the secret in the old attic” (oh man, i’m just realizing the similarity…) i’m hoping carolyn keene keeps kidnapped and borderline abused kids out of the storyline (leave that for the real fairy tales), and stays completely in the fluff.
* Adam Gidwitz, A Tale Dark & Grimm (New York, NY: Puffin Books, 2010), 122.
** Gidwitz, 237-238.