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Me and Sylvia at the Memorial (April 2009)

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To write is to translate. It will always be, even when we're writing in our own language.

José Saramago


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Thursday, March 17th, 2005

Bedtime Stories

Our venture into chapter books continues apace -- two nights ago we finished Winnie-the-Pooh, last night we started Just-So Stories.

posted morning of March 17th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Sylvia

Saturday, November 12th, 2005

Baviaan

Last night for bed-time story, Sylvia requested a Just-So story. (An "old favorite" -- about 9 months ago we were reading from that book just about every night; but it's been on the shelf untouched for a little while now.) After a consideration of the contents she settled on "How the Leopard Got his Spots", saying even though "The Elephant's Child" is her favorite story, she wanted to see about this one. (When we were reading it regularly, she would ask for "The Elephant's Child" about one night out of three; I got so used to it that I was able to recite it from memory one night when we were driving a long distance and she really wanted to hear a story.)

Well "How the Leopard Got his Spots" is one of the more objectionable stories in the book but with a bit of editing you can get most of the racism out and just have it be about colors. So that's what we read. Now our edition of "Just-So Stories" has two sets of illustrations, line drawings that I think are from the original edition -- they have captions that read as if Kipling wrote them -- and more recent color prints.* When we were reading about Baviaan, the "dog-headed, barking baboon" who is the wisest animal in South Africa, there was a line drawing of him, a drawing which looks nothing like a baboon. Sylvia objected -- "that's not a baboon with a dog's head, that's a person with a lion's head -- like a backwards sphinx!" (She learned about the Sphinx recently and is pretty into the idea.)


*I wish, I wish that I could find the edition of "Just-So Stories" that my dad read to us from when we were young. It was oversize and the illustrations were just beautiful. It's possible I am misremembering and they were the same as the color illustrations in this book, just bigger; but I'm pretty sure they were more abstract and symbolic.

posted evening of November 12th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Rudyard Kipling

Friday, November 25th, 2005

Story-telling

Tonight we were driving home from Ellen's parents' place, and Sylvia wanted me to tell her a story. A Just-So story. Getting progressively more specific, she asked me to tell her "The Elephant's Child". Well I didn't really feel into that; but I started off, "In the high and far-off times... the Lion, o best beloved, had no mane." Sylvia immediately reacted -- that's not how it goes, it's an elephant -- but almost as immediately, she saw the possibilities, and she let me make up a story. It was a pretty lame one frankly, and not particularly long; no Kipling I. But as soon as the lion had gotten his mane, Sylvia asked to hear one about how the tiger got his stripes.

I saw my opening and asked her to tell that story to me. And she did. It was mostly sound effects -- "In the high and flying times there was a tiger with no stripes. And he crashed into the lion and bang and whoosh and boom and he crashed and..." until he eventually crashed into the Mookoo, who had stripes, and they traded. For the rest of the drive home we were regaled with similar stories.

posted evening of November 25th, 2005: Respond
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