Today, we are taking a journey into children’s books Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Winnie-the-Pooh, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pippi Longstocking, and The Little Prince. Yesterday we introduced the books that we would be looking at.
Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler
Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler is a delightful children’s book that adults should read. The story is told from the perspective of six year old Jacob Two Two, who is called that name because he says everything twice. He is small so whenever he speaks no one hears him the first time so he has to repeat it to make sure that he is heard. Jacob Two Two has four older siblings – two sisters, Emma and Marfa; and two brothers, Daniel and Noah. None of his siblings play with him because they think that he is too small. And whenever he tries to assist his mother, she insists that he is too small.
In the world where the story takes place, children are often arrested on the grounds of insulting behaviour to an adult. One day, after trying to find someone to play with, and assisting his mom, after being repeatedly turned down Jacob Two Two goes to his father and tells him that he’d like to run an errand. His father tells him that he is too small, but in frustration the lad burst into tears so his father gives him some coins to go to Mr Cooper, the greengrocer to buy two pounds of firm, red tomatoes.
Jacob Two Two is ecstatic, yet frightened. For the first time in his life he is given an errand to run all by his lonesome, and he takes the task seriously. He carefully walks to the greengrocer not very far from his house and asks Mr Cooper for two pounds of firm red tomatoes, and of course we know that Jacob Two Two repeats everything he says, but shopkeeper thinks that the boy is being rude, and when children insult adults they get arrested. Mr Cooper threatens to call the police, but the police appears before he is able to do so and he summons him inside the shop.
The policeman looks down at the young boy menacingly, and Jacob repeats what he wants twice. Mr Cooper demands justice and insists, this boy, “must be charged with insulting behavior to a big person.” The policeman steps closer to the boy who dashes out of the shop running as fast as his little feet will take him. One would think that he would run home to his parents, but no one knows how they will truly respond when they feel fear. Instead, Jacob Two Two heads to the park. He is breathless and tired when he gets there he falls asleep. When he wakes up he finds himself locked in a prison cell.
He doesn’t get his one phone call, not in the world he lives in. Jacob Two Two is appointed a lawyer, Louis Loser and his name needs no explanation. The poor boy is doomed, and it doesn’t help when he appears in court in front of Mr Justice Rough. And people are guilty until proven innocent. The kid doesn’t get a break. He is found guilty, and when the judge is passing the sentence, he says this, “Jacob Two Two, because you are an unredeemed scoundrel, a charlatan, an ingrate, and a smart aleck to boot, I hereby sentence you to two years, two months, two weeks, two days, two hours and two minutes in the darkest dungeon of the children’s prison. I do this for your own good, naturally, it hurts me more than it hurts you.”
The infamous Child Power Duo interrupt the proceedings, and they are feared by many. One of the two is O’Toole who is actually Noah, and Shapiro who is actually Emma. But they do not rescue Jacob Two Two. Instead, they wait until later that day when the boy is in the cell when they tell him that they could have rescued him, but they want to discover the location of the children’s prison. They give him the supersonic bleeper to hide inside his ear. They also tell him to be aware of the Hooded Fang. The place a transmitter in his ear so they can track Jacob Two Two while he is being taken to children’s prison where he will serve his prison term.
Jacob Two Two is locked up in a prison for children, and as the story unfolds, Mordecai Richler, by way of Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang, demonstrates that small children can do the same things that their older siblings are capable of doing, and that we should love our children equally, treating all of them with respect.
Interview With Modecai Richler
Cannot see the video, click Mordecai-Richler Interview
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
If you are looking for a story that moves quickly, then The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is not the book for you. The story is told from the point of view of a 15 year old, autistic boy, Christopher Boon. When it comes to math, Christopher is brilliant but has problems with language and communicating with others, especially those who are unfamiliar to him. When the story begins, he notices that his neighbour’s poodle, Wellington has been killed with a garden fork.
Christopher decides to investigate to determine who killed Wellington. His father tells him to leave things alone, but anyone who is familiar with someone who suffers from autism, knows that they have a dogged determination. The teenage is also under the impression that his mother died. As the story unfolds, you are taken in to the world of someone with autism, and the story is very realistic. Christopher discovers that his father killed Wellington, so now he believes that his father is going to kill him as well. He also learns that his mother is alive and this confuses him. Christopher decides to go to the address that’s on the letter, to find his mother. He has never done anything like this before. Although, he is scared, and the trip takes him much longer than it would take other boys the same age, he succeeds – he finally arrives at his destination, and this teaches us that we have the capacity to do much more than we think we can.
Mark Haddon Interview by DNA Learning Center
Winnie-the-Pooh by A A Milne
Winnie-the-Pooh (Pooh’s Library: Winnie-The-Pooh, The House At Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six (Pooh Original Edition)) by Alan Alexander Milne is a children’s book and the stories were originally written for his only son Christopher Robin. It is worth mentioning that when Alan Alexander attended a public school run by his father, one of his teachers was the grandfather of science fiction, H G Wells. Winnie-the-Pooh was first published on 1926.
Winnie-the-Pooh is one of those books that you should have read when you were a child. I didn’t, and reading it now I can see why children find the tales so endearing. Edward Bear is Christopher Robin’s toy bear, and AA Milne spins a few tales and transforms the bear into a rotund Winnie-the-Pooh. And his son is also an important character in the tales.
There are 10 tales in the book, and you meet the characters – Pooh, Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga and his child Roo, and Eeyore – who have very human traits. Pooh is always hungry, and often drinks the honey he intends as a gift. Piglet is very anxious, but becomes braver if he has company. Owl, although he is wise, is very pompous and arrogant. Rabbit is very organized, thoughtful and smart. Kanga is very nurturing, and Eeyore the grey mule is very gloomy and self-pitying, and not someone you want to be around for extended periods of time.
AA Milne’s title for each tale is a summary of what the reader can expect, and we are taken on an adventure around the Hundred Aker Wood with Pooh as he finds himself in various situations. First, he wants to trick the bees so that he gets their honey, so Pooh co-opts Christopher Robin to assist him. You see him travelling up with a balloon, and Christopher shooting the balloon because he is stuck.
In another tale, Pooh visits Rabbit in his warren and consumes so much food, that when he goes up the rabbit hole he is stuck. Christopher stays and reads him stories for a week, until he loses weight and can go through the hole. In one funny tale, Rabbit wants to drive Kanga and Roo out of the woods because they are new there so he comes up with a plot to substitute Roo and place Piglet in Kanga’s pouch. It’s difficult to execute the plan but they finally succeed. When Kanga realizes that Piglet and not Roo is in her pouch, she knows that Christopher Robin and his friends would never harm her child, so she pretends that Piglet is Roo and this confounds the pig. Kanga has turned the tables on them. After this they are able to coexist harmoniously in the woods.
Eeyore loses his tale and Pooh goes in search to find it. Pooh decides to consult the “wise” owl to figure where and how he can find the tale. The owl had found the tail and not knowing what it was, attached it on to his door. Pooh took the tail to Christopher Robin who nails it back on to Eeyore.
The way Milne presents the stories make them age appropriate and I appreciate that because I can clearly see how children would be entertained – his use of language is superb. As an adult, reading Winnie-the-Pooh by Alan Alexander Milne, the book didn’t really impact me and that’s because it was not written for me in mind. Surprisingly, I found Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, two other books I should have read a long time ago, to be hysterically funny.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl is a rags to riches story. The story has a very strong moral message and on top of that it is fun to read. Charlie lives in a tiny house on the edge of a great town with six adults – his parents, and both his paternal (Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine) and maternal grandparents (Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina). They are extremely poor. The tiny house, where the seven of them live has two bedrooms and one bed. The grandparents share the bedroom with the bed, and Charlie and his parents sleep on a mattress in the second room.
The house doesn’t have proper insulation, and the windows are not sealed properly so the cold comes in and rests in their bone. Mr Bucket is the sole breadwinner who is underemployed. He works in a factory and places the cap on tubes of toothpaste. There is never enough food to eat in their household.
Once a year, on his birthday, Charlie receives a chocolate bar, which he eats and savors for an entire month. Despite their poverty, this family understands what is important in life, and they offer love to each other, especially to Charlie who is the light of their lives. The grandparents get through the days thinking about Charlie. When the young boy returns home from school each day, he visits with his grandparents, and Grandpa Joe who is the great storyteller, regales Charlie with many stories.
One day, he tells Charlie a story about Willy Wonka, who owns the best and biggest chocolate factory in the world. And that’s interesting because each day as Charlie passes by the chocolate factory, to and from schools, he breathes in the aroma of chocolate.
According to Grandpa Joe, Willy Wonka had many employees working for him at his chocolate factory, and things were going swell. But his competitors – Fickelgruber, Prodnose, Slugworth – sent their employees as spies to work at Wonka’s factory so that they could steal his secrets. Wonka is very inventive and makes the most delectable candies and instead of his competitors trying to learn from his example and experiment to create new and wonderful things, they try to take the easy way out by stealing Wonka’s secrets.
Willy Wonka fires all his employees and closes his factory, and for months the factory remains closed. Mysteriously, although employees no longer enter or leave the premises, the factory once again is making candies, and people can see shadows of what appears to be very small people. No one sees Willy Wonka, and this has now been going on for years.
One evening Mr Bucket returns home from work and tells them that Willy Wonk is having a contest that will allow five children to see his factory and learn all his secrets. He runs a contest, and five candy bars will have Golden Tickets inside the wrapper. The five winners will get a supply of candies for the rest of their lives. The next week is Charlie’s birthday, and although the chances are slim that he’ll be a winner, there is still hope.
The next day after the contest is announced, Augustus Gloop wins the first Golden Thicket. For this boy, eating is his pastime, and you can tell when you look at him. Professor Foulbody who resides in England, builds a machine that will be able to sense gold without opening the wrapper. At a demonstration, the machine grabs for the gold in someone’s tooth and the people smashes its arm.
The second winner is Veruca Salt who lives with her wealthy parents. The girl is a spoiled brat and her parents indulge her all the time. When Veruca heard about the contest, she had to have a Golden Ticket so her father bought half a million Willy Wonka chocolate bars, and had his employees stop shelling peanuts for roasting in his factory and focus on opening the candy bars he bought and that’s how Veruca won.
Charlie gets his chocolate bar for his birthday present and the rest of his family wait with bated breath. As luck would have it, he doesn’t win. One day, Grandpa Joe gives Charlie a dime that he had hidden, and asks Charlie to purchase a chocolate bar to try their luck again. Once again luck is not on their side.
Violet Beauregarde wins the next Golden Ticket. This girl is the gum chewer, and has been chewing one piece of gum for three months and counting. The next winner is Mike Teavee who is addicted to watching TV and the more violent the show, the more he likes it.
Mr Bucket loses his job when the toothpaste factory goes bankrupt. He cannot find a comparable job and starts to shovel snow. The family is starving, and Charlie who is already skinny is losing weight. This family offers to give him some of their meagre food, but the lad says no.
One day while returning home from school, he sees a dollar bill half hidden in the snow. He takes it out, and he is so hungry that he decides to buy a chocolate bar and take home the change to his mother. Charlie buys a chocolate bar and eats it in record time because he is so hungry. He is not sated and decides to buy another. When he opens the package there is the last Golden Ticket. The shopkeeper gets excited and starts to tell everyone. In no time the shop is packed, and everyone wants to get a glimpse of the ticket. One person offers Charlie $50 for his ticket and another $500. The boy is overwhelmed so the shopkeeper gets him safely outside and instructs him to run straight home, which the lad does.
Charlie’s family is filled with joy at their good fortune. And it is in the nick of time because the five children have to appear at the chocolate factory tomorrow morning at 10:00 am. Charlie’s Grandpa Joe, accompanies him, and this is important because Grandpa Joe has been bedridden for 20 years, and when he learns that Charlie won a Golden Ticket, renewed life returns to him.
Everyone is in awe as they tour the factory because it is a great adventure, and they also see the true inventiveness of Willy Wonka. They also discover who is making the candies – the Oompa-Loompas from Loompaland, a people who are small in stature. As the tour goes on, the children and their parents are brought down because of their vices and hopefully they will learn important moral lessons.
Willy Wonka says he is much older than he looks and since he has no children, he is looking for a successor and that’s why he held the Golden Ticket contest. He doesn’t want an adult because they will want to do things their way. But with a child, he can mentor and mold them in his way of doing things. And in this case, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Wonka is constantly stepping beyond the lines and doing the impossible with his candy creations, and that’s why he is miles ahead of his competitors.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren is one of those books that show up on various lists of the must-read books. Pippi is a nine year old girl who lives without adult supervision in her home, Villa Villekulla with her monkey, Mr Nilsson and a horse. Her mother died when she was a baby, and her father fell overboard. Pippi is optimistic that her dad is going to return home and she creates this story that her father is a cannibal king and that as soon as he can build a boat he will come to get her. Her father leaves her a suitcase of gold pieces, and she is able to get what she needs.
Pippi meets her neighbours, a brother and sister, Tommy and Annika, and they have a lot of adventures together. Pippi has fun telling the most ridiculous tales, and although she doesn’t understand boundaries, you cannot help but like her. Obviously if we lived in a world with only people like Pippi, chaos would reign, but if we were a little bit more like her, the world would be a much better place. Pippi rights wrongs, and if we read Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren with an open heart, we’ll be able to discover the many lessons that are there for us to learn.
Astrid Lindgren, interview at her home in May 1989, Stockholm, by Anneli Reigas
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a pilot, and according to PBS, “Flying his open cockpit biplane, Saint-Exupéry had to fight the desert’s swirling sandstorms,” so it makes perfect sense that he would start of The Little Prince story with a pilot trying to fix his aircraft in the Sahara Desert. Although The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is a delightful tale for children, it forces us to take a look at ourselves and our motivations for doing what we do.
The narrator who is a pilot was discouraged from being an artist when he was six years old. His plane has crashed in the Sahara Desert. While he is repairing his aircraft, a little boy asks him to draw a sheep. After the pilot gets over his initial surprise he takes the time to draw the sheep.
Through the tale of the little boy, his visits to the various planets where he encounters a king, a conceited person, a lamplighter, drunkard, and geographer we get a look at adults with misplaced priorities. Adults often get things wrong. We are flawed and often do not recognize the important things in life — we get greedy, perform meaningless tasks and pursue the wrong goals.
In The Little Prince, we are reminded that people do not like what they perceive as strange. In the story we are told that an astronomer is discounted because of his Turkish attire. Later when he conducts his demonstration wearing a suit people take him seriously and listens to what he has to say.
Children have the ability to see what is important in life. They understand that what is important is invisible to the eye, and that the eye is blind so you have to look with your heart. They also understand the bonds of friendship.
The conversations between the little prince and the pilot change him, and he is reminded of his childhood and what it was like.
I have taken you on a journey into children’s books, and I hope that you will recognize the lessons that I learned from reading these books. I did not write about the Choose Your Own Adventure books because I had no additional information to add. There are six books in the collection, and based on the choices you make while reading, the outcome of the stories are very different. I am not sure how a reader is supposed to read choose your own adventure books, but I kept on going back and forth to determine how an outcome would change based on a different decision. I found the process exhausting, but a profound lesson for me is that we need to take time to make important decisions, and ensure that we have the information we need to assist us in making the best decision we can.
Please let me know your thoughts on a journey into children’s books in the comments section below. What journey have you taken into the world of children’s books? If you enjoyed this post, please share it.
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- Pippi Longstocking (Puffin Modern Classics)
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang,
- Winnie-the-Pooh (Pooh’s Library: Winnie-The-Pooh, The House At Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six (Pooh Original Edition))
- (The Abominable Snowman/Journey Under the Sea/Space and Beyond/The Lost Jewels of Nabooti/Mystery of the Maya/House of Danger (Choose Your Own Adventure 1-6) (Box Set 1),
- The Little Prince
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