Monday, 25 October 2010

That question I'm ashamed to ask

Today I finished reading David Almond, so I can put the tissues away.

It reminded me how a little while ago, I posted a question on a parenting forum, then sat back and watched the tumbleweed roll across the screen. If it could be so, the response was less than zero. Which made me think, how out of the world I really am. I must be spinning off for my own planet of one. I am disconnecting, living this, with not one foot in England and not one foot in China.

Anyway, the question was, what books for children make you weep?

I'm almost ashamed to admit it. There I was, blubbing over Michael Morpurgo and weeping into my arms thanks to John Boyne. Mostly, it is true, while Shark, Squirrel and Tiger sat on the sofa rolling their eyes and urging Just get on with it.

I have no defence. I thought it was normal. I may have been doing it for years. I probably shed a tear or two over Eeyore and even blown my nose with Dr Seuss. Don't tell me that the soup snoopers passed you by!

Maybe I have some sort of emotional trip hazard. But don't think all books for kids do this to me. Certainly not the Magic Kitten. I so mercilessly mocked that one, it has become part of the family retelling. Remember the pain we all had to suffer when we made mother read the Magic Kitten? And the fairy trash? And the pony trash?

But I can't be alone. Can I? I hardly dare ask, but are there any children's books that make you weep? But I might not check the comments for two years, so I have time to come to terms with life on a solitary planet.

18 comments:

Deb said...

Oh, jeez - I choke back tears at "I love you to the moon and back" Every.Single.Time.

Or how about when you see how much a story affects them? My son was reading Frog and Toad the other day and I could tell he was upset that Frog left Toad a note saying he wanted to be alone and Toad thought they weren't friends anymore. I was teary watching my son be drawn in for the first time by a book that he read all by himself.

Did I just write an entire paragraph on Frog and Road? Am I even having the same conversation as you? Good Grief, if this all seems insane in two years when you check comments, just have pity on me and delete it.

Grit said...

oh no, find that one where the rat comes and lives by the river. and everyone hates him - they say he's just a dirty rat! - and he persists, and makes friends, then one day he says, 'it's time to move on'. and he ups and leaves! then everyone is so sad because they never realised how much they liked him, even though he was really just a dirty rat. i still cry over that.

deb, we need a support group.

sharon said...

Ummm, no. I can't remember ever crying over a children's book. The occasional adult work, yes. The most recent being The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell. Read it and see what you think. A large box of tissues is recommended.

Allie said...

I can be moved to tears by just one illustration in the Shirley Hughes' book Dogger. It's the one where the little boy is wrapped around his sister's tummy - in deep gratitude for her getting back the beloved Dogger. It looks just like our two when they were about four and seven.

Then there's Michael Rosen's Sad Book and yes, Max Velthujis' Frog books - several of those. Then there's almost everything Michael Morpurgo has written - I had to do a lot of coughing to get through Alone on a wide, wide sea. Roll of Thunder and it's sequel both had me crying.

I am always crying over books - adult ones and children's - it's a bit embarassing on the bus.

Sam said...

Oh, me too. I'm often choking up and trying to get the words out. The boys just pat me on the shoulder ;-)

I wasn't this bad when I was young - I have a pile of books I haven't shared with the boys, because I know I won't be able to get past the opening (you know, setting up the "orphan" scenario) - but they were my absolute favourite books.

Maybe I'm getting all this icky soppiness out of the way now, so I can be a hard-as-nails old lady?

Helen P said...

Goodbye Mog. And Badger's Parting Gifts.

And so many more... I cry at all sorts of books and it's sometimes terribly embarrassing!

Helen said...

definitely! I like children's fiction & have often shed a tear. Bridge to Terabithea for instance. I defy anyone not to be sobbing by the end of that.

kellyi said...

Yes.

War Horse any one? Or The Butterfly Lion?

I think Mr Morpurgo whiles away his days thinking up stories to make people cry...

At the moment I am reading Spike Milligans War Memoirs (not to the children!) and I go to sleep laughing most nights.

Melanie said...

I remember sobbing as a child reading Black Beauty during the fire bit.

As an adult I was a bit embarrassed as I was choking out the words to Where the Red Fern Grows. I made the mistake of looking up at my girls as I wiped the snot and tears from my face...they were staring at me with mouths agape. I was a little shocked that they weren't nearly as moved as I. I guess books talk differently to each person. *sigh*

Nic said...

I am a total sap at fiction (almost never cry for myself in real life mind you). Books I have ruined with big fat salty teardrops splashing on the pages include:
Morpurgo, most of them. Noteably the Kites Are Flying, Kensukes Kingdom, King of the Cloud Forest, Not Bad for a Bad Lad and This Morning I met a Whale. Oh yeah and When the Whales Came. yeah all of them then.
Agreed about Goodbye Mog and Badgers Parting Gift, Michael Rosen's Sad Book, Roddy Doyle's Her Mothers Face and also love Giraffes Can't Dance and several of Colin Thompson's - Falling Angels and How to live Forever...

Michelle said...

Morpurgo definitely, Frog and Toad I love but don't weep over them. Books not mentioned already that made me cry are "Understanding Betsy" and "Tadpole's Promise".

Clare said...

I remember that Raymond Briggs made me cry, Fungus the Bogeyman and Ethel and Ernest (not exactly children's books perhaps but they are illustrated). More recently I think The Sea-Thing Child brought a lump to my throat- that's beautiful.

Kestrel said...

The Naming Of Tishkin Silk. Gorgeous, glorious novel, will have you sobbing early on and thru to the end.

Toni said...

The first time I realised word could make you weep was when my mother read Heidi to me - and the ending, when Heidi came home to the mountain, left her in tears. I rememeber trying to explain to her it was just a story.

And the first time a book made me weep was The Last Battle by CS Lewis, when at the end everyone was together and happy. Not that this makes me cry any more.

I recently re-read Pastures of the Blue Crane and it surprised me by evoking some teenage memory of tears. But generally books don't make me cry. Songs, on the other hand - I'm a tap.

Grit said...

thank you so much for this lovely set of recommendations, people! this is a splendid reading list to take down the library. then i'll stock up on the comfort foods and the mansize and get started from the best spot on the sofa, while the little grits sit next to me with their puzzled frowns.

JinkyFingers said...

Good Night Mister Tom
Every time

Most others, happy bits, sad bits. I look up to see them looking at me, checking why my voice has gone funny or just saying get on with it.

alison said...

The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren. The first chapter is ridiculously heart-rending.

Ailbhe said...

Hug by Jez Alborough - I think it only has that one word.