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Monday, October 1, 2012

Comparative Literature

I have loved Bedtime for Frances for a long time. As a young girl, I spent many hours at the table, forced to eat the rest of the beef roast or pork roast on my plate. I wished for foods I liked. Like Frances, I often thought other people's lunches were better than my own. Now that I read it through adult eyes and experiences, I note, of course, the masterful way the Hobans taught a lesson without being didactic.

This summer, while visiting with Cyndy Szekeres, she noted that the first Frances book was not illustrated by Lillian Hoban but by Garth Williams, a shared hero in the world of illustration. I could hardly believe that was true! Though I trust Cyndy, I looked up the information and confirmed her words - then ordered a copy for my personal library.

I would love to do a comparative literature study with children involving these two books. Frances is the same character in her actions and words in each, but she is a softer, more defined badger, somehow, in the Williams' interpretation, and it is not just because she may have had a pre-bedtime bath. Her features are clearer. What would the children say? I am hesitant to discover. You see, while her parents may just give her bread and jam to convince her to eat more broadly, they threaten spankings in order to get her to bed. I do not desire to engage in the discussions that might occur on the story steps about that topic.

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