It's gotten to be a little private joke between me and the girl. I'll pull out a book to read to her, and she'll say "what's it about?". "Well", I say, "the main character is an English orphan." And then we howl with laughter about those pesky orphans.
In point of fact, a few of them haven't been English orphans - Anne Shirley is Canadian, Dorothy Gale is from Kansas, Pippi, Hugo. But that's splitting hairs, I think. What's with all the orphans in children's literature?
Here's a few of the books I'm thinking of:
- Anne of Green Gables
- Ballet Shoes
- Harry Potter
- James and the Giant Peach
- Mistress Masham's Repose
- Pippi Longstocking
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret
- The Secret Garden
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
What's it all about? No parents to guide you mean you need to find your way in the world much earlier. Get rid of the parents and the powerless-ness of the child is catapulted into high relief. Grow up kids, parents just get in the way. It's kind of a sad message, but yet, these are some of my favorite books. The spunky children in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and The Secret Garden are fabulous. Pippi Longstocking is the embodiment of question authority. The orphans triumph over adversity, letting the little children tucked into mama's arms see that life is not so bad, and it'll be easier with parents in the background.
Can you think of some more English orphans?