as a child which were "classics". The first of these were books like The tale of Peter Rabbit" and the works of AA Milne. I have given copies of those to other children and I will come back to them later in the year.
But I was also given copies of things like "Heidi" and "Pollyanna". I have not given copies of these things to any child. My first copy of "Heidi" was a large picture book version. It was nothing more than a not-very-accurate synopsis with rather dreadful pictures. My maternal grandmother thought it was a wonderful book. My brother cut it up with his "kindergarten" scissors. I encouraged him. It is the only book either of us ever deliberately maliciously defaced.
We did not like it.
Several years later my maternal grandmother gave me "Pollyanna". It was another book she liked. She had other "Pollyanna" books as well. I did not like it - or the other books. I still do not care for it or the other books. The Whirlwind found it on my shelves some time ago. She read it after seeing the film at a friend's house. I can remember her comments well.
"I didn't know it was a book. Was that why they made it into a film?" Did she like it? "Not much." Why? "It doesn't sound right - like the person writing it did not really mean it. The story is a bit silly."
I explained that the book had been written a long time ago and writing style was different.
"Yeah like maybe but the story is still silly."
I offered her "Heidi" - the full version. It was my maternal grandmother's present the following year. She was still trying to get me to like the few books she liked before television meant she did no reading at all. I read it but it did not enthrall me.
Later there was "Anne of Green Gables". There was also "A girl of the Limberlost". My mother knew about the sequels to these and Pollyanna. She had borrowed them from other people and read them as a child but she did not speak of them, or any other book, with great enthusiasm.
Heidi was returned with the comment. "That was a bit better but I am not impressed." Right. Then the Whirlwind wanted to know,
"Why do books get to be classics? Is it because they really are good and I just don't understand them?"
What do you think?