Dedicated to classics and hits.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley

The Water-Babies illustration- if you are into drawings of naked young boys The Water-Babies is the book for you.

Book Review
The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale For A Land Baby
by Rev. Charles Kingsley
published 1862-1863

The Water-Babies combines allegory, satire and children's literature in a similar fashion as books like Gulliver's Travels, Alice in Wonderland and Gargantua and Pantagruel.  It certainly hasn't fared as well as the other two examples of similar books- in that Hollywood has not adapted The Water-Babies with Jack Black starring or Tim Burton directing in the last five years.

The Water-Babies cover illustration- reoccurring motive of naked young dudes.

  To a contemporary reader, for example, me, The Water-Babies seems less like children's literature and more like an adult allegory.  Kingsley wrote The Water-Babies shortly after Charles Darwin published his seminal works outlining his theory of evolution.  The story of The Water-Babies involves a chimney sweep who is treated cuelly by his boss and his transformed into a "Water-Baby" by a fairy godmother type.

 After his transformation he has several adventures that involve him traveling up north and learning valuable life lessons.  According to the description in 1001 Books To Read Before You Die, The Water-Babies is also complex allegory that explains the theory of evolution to children.  Well- I totally didn't get that part.  In fact, it was quite clear to me that reading The Water-Babies on a Kindle, without the benefit of full-color illustrations that accompany every printed edition of the book, is far from being the ideal format.

The Water-Babies illustration:  Look at the expression on the face of that fish in the background.  Don't you want your kid to have something like this in their room?

  I think The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley is a marginal title on the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list and a good candidate to be cut in the second edition.

      I would say though if you are currently a parent of a young child this is a good look for the kid- guarantee you will wow the other parents during your next discussion of children's literature with your peers, "Oh yeah we got him/her The Water-Babies- by Charles Kingsley?  Not as well known as Snow White but our son/daughter has really taken a shine to it."  And then the other parents will be like, "The Water-Babies?  I got my kid an APP that lets him pretend to be one of the Cars, from Walt Disney's Cars movies."  Suck it, other parents.

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