Monday, August 19, 2019

Children's Books We Hate

RHYS BOWEN:  Catching my breath after nearly two weeks of book events, one flight per day, lots of hotel meals and different beds. But one of the things I do is catch up on movies on longer flights. And one of those was DUMBO.  Have you see it? I HATED IT. It was dark and scary and if I’d been a child I would have demanded to be taken out of the theater immediately
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Which made me think of which children’s books I’ve always hated. Of course when I was growing up none of the books was too scary or violent. I remember talking to my grandson when he was about eight and asking him what books he liked. He said, “We’re listening to this great book in the car on the way to school”
“What’s it about?”  I asked.
“These children are brought to the city and they have to fight each other to the death.”
“I leaped to my daughter. “You’re letting him hear something like this?” I demanded. She said, “It’s a YA book and it’s very well written and they love it.” It was THE HUNGER GAMES.  I would have hated it. I hated, and still do, anything too dark, anything too sad.
Surprisingly, however, I adored the Harry Potters. Of course I was grown up at the time but I would have done so as a child. I certainly adored the Lord of the Rings. Maybe because in both the good guys won!

So other children’s books I’ve hated? The Wizard of Oz. Marking poor Dorothy go through all that and then finding she just had to click her heels to go home? Not fair! I don't like most of Roald Dahl. So many unkind characters and abused children.  And above all, THE GIVING TREE. That horrible little boy took and took from the tree and gave nothing in return and the tree was kind and forgiving until the last.
So, dear Reds, what were your least favorite children’s books?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Ha. I hated The Little Princess. How sad and depressing! No reason for it. But I do love Matilda, Rhys, and Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but I read it as an adult. But I SO agree. WORST BOOK EVER  is The Giving Tree. I mean--what on earth is that supposed to teach? Browbeat your parents, selfishly, until they kill themselves?  Our  darling little neighbor girl, Georgia, read it, and cried for literally days. And her mother warned me, "Don't even say the word "tree." It will set her off again.

LUCY BURDETTE: That's an easy one Rhys: any of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales that scared me to death! I also am bitter about all the horrible stepmother figures in these tales. Cinderella? Wicked stepmother won't let her go to the ball and makes her work like a scullery maid. Snow White? Poisoned by her stepmother for being too beautiful. Hansel and Gretel? taken to a witch and abandoned by their wicked stepmother.

I also have a hard time with books that are too sad, like Old Yeller and Bambi. And yes on the YA books--they are so violent and depressing these days!

RHYS: Lucy, I suppose, to be fair, that Grimm's fairy tales were not really written for children but assembled from folk history, stories to teach a moral, right? But I so agree with Old Yeller.

HALLIE EPHRON: Of course I loved Loved LOVED The Little Princess. Also the Wizard of Oz. Most of Roald Dahl, though Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, not so much. Loved the Grimm's fairy tales, the grimmer the better.

I made the mistake of trying to read some of the more recent Berenstain Bears books to my grandkids--the early ones were funny and irreverent. The new ones are preachy, too good for their own good. The first Olivia book was sublime, but it's been downhill ever since. And though I loved the first Eloise, the later books are disappointing. Ditto the later Madelines. Ditto Babar. And while the illustrations are great, do not try to read one of the Disney storybooks... the texts are execrable.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Lucy, you beat me to Old Yeller. What a horrible book! I'm still traumatized how many ever years later, just thinking about it. Add to that The Red Pony--gah! And The Yearling. I suppose they are all life lessons, but most of us learn them soon enough on our own. I didn't mind the Grimms, or Andersen, although The Little Match Girl always struck me as unbearably sad. And why would they make a movie of that story? Why are so many of these books about orphaned or abused children?

I made the mistake of trying to read the updated Bobbsey Twins and the updated Nancy Drew's with my daughter and they were absolutely dreadful.

HANK: Oh, SO RIGHT! The Red Pony, and Old Yeller. WHY? And Match Girl. I ask you!  What was that supposed to teach? And the matches went out, one by one? NOOOO.  How about Ring of Bright Water? I have a pal whose mother read that to her, and left out the ending. When she grew up and went to college, she went to the movie. She called her mother afterward, sobbing. RING DIES! She wailed.They wrecked it. And her mom had to confess she'd changed the ending to protect her.

JENN McKINLAY: Oh, wow, great topic. I have NEVER forgiven my brother for insisting I read WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS. Dan and Ann, my heart. Much like the
Hooligans haven't forgiven me for reading THE RED PONY to them when they were young. Oops! I am not an angst reader. In fact, I think I was the only kid in middle school who wasn't into Judy Blume's DEENIE or V.C. Andrews's FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. Comedy, people, it's all about the comedy. If I wanted to be sad and scared and angry, I'd live my own life. LOL!

RHYS: So which were YOUR UNFAVORITE children's books?
And now our new Monday feature.
 Monday shout out! Good news? Giveaways?

JENN: My publisher is having a back to school sweepstakes! Up for grabs are five library based novels, including WORD TO THE WISE! So fun!
https://sweeps.penguinrandomhouse.com/enter/back-to-school-library-sweepstakes

DEBS: My publisher is giving away 50 copies of A BITTER FEAST on Goodreads! The offer ends in 4 days, so don't miss out! (US residents only.)
https://tinyurl.com/yyvzrdhe

And, TO DWELL IN DARKNESS  is on sale in e-book format for $1.99 through the end of the month. Check it out on Amazon
https://tinyurl.com/y2979o6w
or your favorite e-book provider, and catch up with Duncan and Gemma before the new book.

HANK:  THE MURDER LIST is a CNN Ultimate Beach Read! 
PRE-ORDER The Murder List! https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250197214
AND here's a free snippet of the fab Angela Dawe reading the audio book! https://read.macmillan.com/lp/the-murder-list-audiobook/

HANK's LAUNCH PARTY!  For The Murder List
Tuesday, August 20 at 7 pm at  Brookline Booksmith
Wednesday Aug 21  7 pm RJ Julia . Madison CT (With editor Kristin Sevick)
Thursday Aug 22 7 pm An Unlikely Story, Plainville MA
Saturday  Aug 23  2pm . Poisoned Pen Bookstore Scottsdale AZ (ticketed event with true crime writer Billy Jensen)
MORE HERE : http://hankphillippiryan.com/events.php

RHYS: Love and Death Among the Cheetahs is #10 on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list and #15 on USA Today.
And Kings River Life Magazine is currently holding a contest and giveaway of the book. Here's the link:https://www.krlnews.com/2019/08/love-and-death-among-cheetahs-rhys-bowen.html 

64 comments:

  1. So many children’s books that I don’t like . . . The already mentioned “The Giving Tree” and “Old Yeller” both live somewhere near the top of my list . . . I’m not a fan of Maurice Sendak’s “In the Night Kitchen” either . . . .

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    1. I must be weird, Joan. My daughter and I both loved In the Night Kitchen and we read it often.

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    2. My very young first-graders never enjoyed the book, Debs. I think part of the problem was the layout [the graphic novel/comic book sort of frames] . . . this made it a bit more difficult for reading in a group setting. But the bigger problem was when we got to the part in the story where the bakers stirred Mickey into the batter. Several of the children found that very frightening, so we put the book away on the shelf and there it stayed because none of the children ever selected it for independent reading.

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  2. I'm glad I never read Old Yeller or the The Giving Tree! I recently thought I would turn my ten year old friend onto the Hardy Boys, and had my son's old copy of the first one. Talk about exerable writing! James wasn't interested, and neither was I. But I can't really think of books I hated at the time. I think I was such an avid reader I just ate it all up.

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  3. I’m not sure I agree. I loved and cried over many of the books you mention. Nearly all books about animals end in death, because most animals don’t live as long as humans. But children need to learn that and process their emotions. Sometimes it is easier to do it first with a character in a book than with a pet. The Giving Tree teaches a deep lesson about appreciation and the unevenness of life. I don’t think you can protect children from everything, nor should you. The fact that you remember Old Yeller or Ring of Brightwater speaks to the strength of those books and the emotional depths they touched. The children’s books I hate? All the badly written ones or the ones that talk down to children.

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  4. I agree with Deborah about hating anything preachy or poorly written for children. As a child, I read whatever I could get my hands on. As I got older, I could decide whether something might be too sad or too scary--like Jenn, I tended to gravitate to happier stories. Although, honestly, I cried like a baby at the ending of Tale of Two Cities.

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    1. Oh, yes - Tale of Two Cities! We read that in high school, and I mourned for days.

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  5. I don't think I ever read those books as a child. I did read Black Beauty and although I really don't remember it I'm thinking it was sad. Things I did read, such as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, had sad parts but overall wasn't too bad. But I did see the movie "old Yeller" which was a terrible thing to subject a child to. Can't even imagine reading the book.

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  6. I don't remember reading Dumbo as a child, but I agree with Rhys about the movie -- I hated it! So dark and scary! But it was directed by Tim Burton, who does everything dark and scary, so...
    I can't think of any books I didn't like when I was a child. I read everything I could find, too. But I am not a fan of the The Hunger Games and the rest of that series because of its focus. Give me the Chronicles of Narnia any day!

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    1. Mary, I'm still a huge fan of the Chronicle of Narnia!

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  7. Yes on Old Yeller. Another animal dying book that absolutely devastated me was My Friend Flicka. (That one I actually couldn't finish, I was so torn up.) Then jumping forward a whole bunch of years, I was a regular "guest reader" at an elementary school in the late 80's or early 90's, and the teacher had me read them The Bridge to Terabithia, which was wonderful but also so devastating that I questioned whether it should be read to kids quite so young.

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    1. So interesting. I loved My Friend Flicka, and Black Beauty, although they were sad. I still have my copies. So why did I love those and hate the others I mentioned? Hmmm.

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    2. Oh, Beidge to Terebithia... Another book I hated. It's beautifully written but why should children read about a friend dying in a senseless accident?

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  8. Yes, I agree that there is a time when death has to be introduced… Do you remember the book The Dead Bird? It was really controversial at the time… Designed to show kids about the cycle of life. And I remember it being kind of beautiful. But I don’t know, sometimes when books are so manipulatively sad, that seems unnecessary. I’m all about reality, but when a kid is sobbing and traumatized, that doesn’t seem necessary.
    But as we always talk about here, we all love different things. And I bet kids do, too! End it depends on what age we are when we read something… And at what stage of emotional development.

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    1. You know a great book about the cycle of life? The Tenth Good a thing About Barney by Jydith Viorst. It's lovely

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    2. IMHO All Judith Viorst kids books are lovely - often hilarious and also true.

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  9. I think I've read almost every book mentioned here, and I can't say I hated any of them. Although I hadn't thought of it before, I suspect reading about death in a book is an excellent way to introduce that concept to children, especially these days when some of them are so protected from life events.

    If I had to pick a favorite book I read and reread as a child, it would be a tie between Alice in Wonderland -- yes, I know -- and Grimm's Fairy Tales, followed closely by Anderson's Fairy Tales and A Child's Garden of Verses, most of which I could recite to you right how.

    I can't remember when I wasn't reading, although I must have taken time out to cut teeth and get potty trained. I can't remember a book I hated although there were a few I wasn't all that interested in. I think I read one or two of the Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames genre, but my interest was more in the classics, most of Dickens, all of Louisa May Alcott, tons of Jules Verne. I never quite got into the OZ books although I adored the movie and still do.

    Sobbing through a book? I still do that. In fact, my book score is directly related to the amount of tears produced. I give ten stars to A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara, 2015. If you haven't read it, you should. Shortlisted for both the Booker and the National Book Award, winner of the Kirkus Prize. My VIRTUAL copy is tear soaked!

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  10. I had to read The Red Badge of Courage in the eighth grade. I thought that was awful. But we read Treasure Island in seventh grade, and I loved it. I loved The Little Princess too. And I really like Laura Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series. The illustrations are wonderful.

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    1. This is so funny. When my eldest was in perhaps the fourth grade, his teach called me in to say he wasn't reading at grade level and asked what he'd read during the summer. It was THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. I pointed out that he was so far beyond fourth grade content that it bored him to tears!

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  11. I don't remember crying over any book as a child. Or hating anything. I did re-read my Nancy Drews years later and was disappointed to see the writing didn't hold up. I did, however, cry like a baby at the movie version of "Old Yeller."

    And my son read...the name escapes me. They made a movie of it, there's a boy and a girl, and a tree swing, and it was great...right up until the end when the girl dies in a horrible accident involving the tree. Oh he bawled like I'd never seen him do it before when he read that.

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    1. Me too. My granddaughter and I went to the movie, but she'd already seen it. "Bridge to Tarabithia" I bet.

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  12. My kids were disgusted with their assigned reading in grades 4-8: a poor country boy and a dog. A teacher told me they had to pick a book the boys would like (why not alternate?) because more boys were "reluctant readers." We read everything from fairy tales to RL Stine without a problem. I suspect kids can tolerate listening to scarier stories rather than seeing violence and horror on TV.

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  13. I inhaled all my uncles' ancient Hardy Boys, an old set of Bobsey Twins, and moved on to Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Cherry Ames - the early ones! Cried my way through Mrs. Mike more than once; same with Little Women. Hated Grapes of Wrath - still do, and never even tried Harry Potter. My kids were of an age that I skipped having to read those to them without regret. I didn't find Narnia until I was an adult, but I read all of them at least twice.

    When our son was in high school, I tried to help him get through Beloved by reading it with him, but I struggled as badly as he did. Blasphemous as it is, I've never enjoyed Toni Morrison's novels. As others have noted: skip the angst! It's why I've never warmed to YA.

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    1. I love Harry Potter. Wish I had the time to read through the series again...

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    2. Cyndi, Mrs. Mike was one of my all-time favorite books. I found a copy not too many years ago to add to my library, I had such fond memories of it!

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    3. Karen, I did the same! It's one book I'll hang onto.

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    4. Do you know Holly Gault? She also bought a recent copy, for the same reason. It's an enduring, and endearing, story.

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    5. But the updated Bobbsey Twins that Deb abhors could not possibly have been worse than the old original books that I cut my reading teeth on. (How old were your uncle's, clpauwels?) Mine were ca. 1905. Really.

      So. Flossie is given a coloured doll by the family's coloured cook Dinah and her husband Sam. Now, this is what I remember clearly, because I read and reread it trying to make sense of it. Flossie didn't know of any orphan asylums for coloured dolls, so she had to keep it. And thus, when she lined all her dolls up on her dresser, the 5 white dolls were on one side of a shoebox lid, and the coloured doll was separated from them.

      Well, what can I say?

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    6. Karen, I don't know Holly, but it's nice to find a kindred spirit!

      Susan: 1905?! Wow! Mine weren't *quite* that old - maybe 1940s? I don't recall specifics any longer, just know I read and re-read them all.

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  14. I never read Dumbo, but the movie - I could make myself cry now just thinking about the death of Dumbo’s mother and that song when she rocks him after she has been chained up. Oh, perhaps I should stop now. My father would only read aloud from Winnie the Pooh, or Wind in the Willows. But I loved swallows and Amazons series! Still do. I read all of Enid Blyton’s books as I was a rather lonely child so they were my tribe. I think all the American authors passed me by until I moved here. Then I was reading along side my daughter. The YA books that grandson #1, read in Middle School, The Hunger Games Series and a couple of others, are very interesting and a stark reminder that we are not living lightly on the earth. I can see parallels in Margaret Atwood’s, MADD Adam series. Science fiction has too often shown us a way that is realistic.

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    1. I also loved Enud Blyton, although read now they are so stereotypical and formulaic. Winnie the Pooh is my absolute all time favorite that really stands the test of time!

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    2. Oh, mine, too, Rhys! And I still have my copies. But I brought Enid Blyton's from the UK for Kayti and she loved them. We still have her copies--I should take a look.

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    3. I agree Rhys, I couldn’t read Blyton now, but I was a rather lonely child with my sibs being 6 and 7.4 years younger than me. So all those stories of tribes of kids just sucked me in. All I wanted was a tribe of my own. I have my mother’s Winnie the Pooh copy.

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  15. As a librarian and a lover of picture books I hate to admit that I don't care for Where the Wild Things Are by Sendak. Don't know why, just don't like it. There are others, often things people adore. Maybe I'm just being contrary.

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    1. I didn't care for Where the Wild Things are, either, but as I mentioned above, we loved In the Night Kitchen.

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  16. I'll second Where the Wild Things Are. I truly don't get it.

    Then again, I loved the new Dumbo. The first half was slow, but the second half was magical and fun.

    I've got a Trixie Belden on the list of kids books I hated. The Mystery of the Whispering Witch was odd and evil and I absolutely hated it with a passion.

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    1. I loved Where the Wild Things Are. It's an image of a kid having a temper tantrum, calming down and realizing he is lived and safe

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  17. As what I describe as an omnivorous reader, I can't say I've ever hated most books, especially as a child. However, some reading that I loved when I was young has not held up when I read it as an adult. The reverse has also been true. My nephew and I were talking about books we had to read in school, and how much different they seemed to us now.

    My husband and I discussed, just last week, how certain books are too transparently manipulative with our emotions, and we both said how disappointing it was to us. A lot of children's books fall into that category, many of which were named above.

    He majored in English Lit so he could read all the time, which was a big deal for both of us when we met. I don't know how I could have gotten through the last forty years without a partner who also reads!

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  18. I read a great deal has a child and was read to before I could sit up on my own. I happily don't remember any horrible books. I also think, in hindsight, my Mom controlled what I checked out of the library for the first 10 or 12 years of my life. When I was a nanny, I read THE CAT IN THE HAT to the kids. I think I read maybe twice and then conveniently skipped over it when picking books to read before naps. Teaching my kids it was okay to break the rules as long as you cleaned everything up before the adults got home? Not a lesson I wanted to encourage.

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  19. First time I sat in stunned disbelief was with Podkane of Mars. I could not believe or accept Podkane died. turns out many couldn't and Heinlein rewrote the ending. I hated and still hate The Little Prince. Like many I read anything I could find, but found that the series books (Trixie Belden et al)were bland - like a steady diet of oatmeal.

    Books that troubled me as an adult, The Owl Service - which is a chilling story of combining myth, coming of age, and possession. It's almost beyond creepy. As far as the Giving Tree - the theme of self sacrifice told from a feminine POV throws it into the ash pile for me. i.e. Am I supposed to sacrifice my life for a man to make him happy?

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    1. Coralee, you read Alan Garner! I have to admit I didn't much care for The Owl Service, but I LOVED The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, which I even have on Kindle.

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    2. I read Alan Garner. I don't remember them well, but I remember reading them.

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  20. How did I miss this conversation? Well, as a kid, I hated BLACK BEAUTY, not because it's poorly written, but because it was SO sad. It's the kid version of those books Oprah picks for her book club - 350 pages of brutality and suffering, followed by a one-paragraph happy ending.

    As a parent? Anything with Barbie on the cover, because, like the Disney books, the writing is SO bad. It's strange when you think about it - Disney spends big bucks to make sure all their properties are top-rate, and yet their tie-in kids books read as if they've been written by business school interns with a tin ear for dialog.

    The other book I hate as a parent? I'LL LOVE YOU FOREVER. It's a beautiful well-written book and I can't even TYPE the title without getting teary-eyed! Some sadist decreed all new parents get a copy, so they can contemplate mortality and the ineffable nature of love for your children while also explaining why they're sobbing in front of a four year old.

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    1. YES! shudders to I will love you forever, because we all as parents creep into our adult children's bed rooms to croon to them while they are supposedly asleep.

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    2. Count me in the group that dislikes “Love You Forever.”
      “William’s Doll” and “The Velveteen Rabbit” were favorites with our children . . . .

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    3. Still scarred from getting Love You Forever at my baby shower for Hooligan 1 - yes, 18 years later! Ugh.

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  21. I read lots of fairy tales when I was young. Boy, they were depressing and grim for the most part. I think I kept on to find the ones with happy endings. I saw Ol' Yeller once, as a child. Never again. I try to avoid sad as much as possible. So, Dumbo tore me up. Why were they so cruel to his mom and mean to him? And poor Dorothy. She just wanted to go home and couldn't. Nightmarish. I read Toby Tyler as a child. The monkey died. I couldn't believe it.Black Beauty was difficult too; that happy ending was a long time coming. I tend to remember books I enjoyed, not the ones I hated. As for as teaching kids about life, I think Charlotte's Web did a good job. Yes, she died, but.... I read lots of mysteries before someone "updated" them and ruined them. Lots of Dr Seuss and other ridiculous things. Mushroom Planet. Happy, adventurous books. I just asked my son that question and he said he hated downer books: Where the Red Fern Grows, anything from Hans Christian Anderson. I second Hans. I don't think anything went right in his tales.

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    1. I read Where the Red FErn Grows for the first time a couple of years ago when my grandson was reading it in school. A certain scene made him throw up.

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  22. My local public library had a winter reading challenge last year and one was to reread something you LOVED as a child. I reread Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, and I couldn't believe I has ever fallen for anything so preachy.

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  23. All the sad books people are mentioning--Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, Black Beauty, Charlotte's Web--were my favorites. My happiest moments in childhood were sobbing in a chair over a book. I'm still that way.

    I hated Roald Dahl. I don't like mean people or characters. One reason I can't watch The Devil Wears Prada.

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  24. Popping in to say that I'm lucky enough to have read three advance copies of Reds books - Hank's and Debs' and Hallie's. You women! You are rock stars, truly. And, in all seriousness, you have shown us some of your very best. I am so proud of you ALL I can hardly stand it.

    Children's book I hated - Giving Tree. And all those other "classics" that made me cry (don't even get me started).

    Children's book I loved (and still love) - the original Eloise.

    Children's books that I read as an adult and think they every bit as outstanding as all the hype? Harry Potter.

    Now, back to my very long overdue project of clearing out the top floor of our storage building. (which is why I've been MIA).

    xxoo

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  25. I loved The Giving Tree when I was a kid, but as an adult I recognized it as a training manual for people who think giving everything to a selfish spouse is "love."

    I also didn't really like the Chronicles of Narnia. I grew up reading Lloyd Alexander's outstanding Chronicles of Prydain, and hoped to find something similar in Narnia, but Lewis got too preachy and Christian for me. I don't hate them, but they rate a big "meh" for me. And I never made it through Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials books. I didn't really like anybody enough to follow their adventures, and again, too preachy for me, although Pullman and Lewis were definitely preaching to different choirs.

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  26. Old Yeller tops my list, nothing else comes close. I can't think of many others. I didn't much care for the original Disney Jumbo movie, and so had no interest in the latest one. Charlotte's Web was sad? News to me.

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  27. Shalom Reds and fans. don’t remember disliking anything I read before high school. My parents read to us as long as I can remember. I do remember Captain Kangaroo having picture books read and shown every morning. My mom and I would then look for those books in the library. Books like ANDY AND THE LION, MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAMSHOVEL, PING and LENTIL.

    My father did ban one book from the house. It was called MILLION OF CATS. I don’t think I understood or paid much attention to his reasons but as an adult, I understand his sentiments too well.

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  28. As a child, I really liked fairy tales although I did question some of the brutality and terror, especially Hansel and Gretel, whew! I read tons of Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew. (I had my aunt's books from the 1930's, so different versions maybe?) I also loved animal stories: Black Beauty, Beautiful Joe, Big Red, The Call of the Wild! Some of the animal stories you've all mentioned, I've never read. When I was a teacher in the 1970's, I read The Giving Tree and hated it, really thought it was a terrible story for kids. Such selfishness rewarded. Some books that were assigned reading in high school were tough to read, like Of Mice and Men and The Pearl. I was lucky that our Dickens assignment was Great Expectations. My mother wanted me to read Pride and Prejudice, one of her favorites, and kept handing it to me but I didn't read it until I was 20, and so she never got to see how much I loved her favorite book. (She passed away when I was a freshman in college.) She had read challenging things to me when I was a very little girls, poems by Poe (Annabelle Lee) and anyone know "The Harp Weaver?" Yeah. So, I decided that my child would be read everything, too. Ok, he hated poetry, but he listened to the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit first, of course, from his 5th birthday until we completed them the following spring! I love books. Thanks to all you wonderful authors! Thanks and thanks and thanks!

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  29. I hadn't really thought much about books I didn't like as a child, since there were so many that I enjoyed. Thinking about it now and reading the comments, I would have to agree that Old Yeller is a book and movie I could have lived without. And, I so hate the beginning of Black Beauty where she's abused that I can put that on the list of children's books I don't want to re-visit. The Giving Tree is also a rather annoying tale, now that I think about it.

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  30. I was an adult, a children's librarian, when a number of the books mentioned came along. And kids do read differently from adults. Having said that...I hated The Giving Tree when some colleagues thought it was the most beautiful book ever. Hated it. And I never liked any of Roald Dahl's books - quite sadistic, but they were popular.Kids kind of like sadistic when deserved. The only stories I can remember hating as a child were-yes - some of Andersons's sappier ones (the mermaid DIES?) and also Oscar Wilde, who wrote astonishingly sappy, sentimental fairy tales. Hard to believe the same pen wrote Importance of Being Ernest. Anyway so happy to see so many other expert readers dislike Giving Tree.

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  31. Mom used to tell of my aunt being so upset because I cried when she read "The Ugly Duckling" to me.
    I don't remember hating any at the time, but I wonder if today's kids would still like LITTLE WOMEN and the LITTLE HOUSE books. I've heard that for the Harry Potter series, a good rule of thumb is to match the age of the young reader to Harry's age, as the books do get darker. A friend, knowing his daughter couldn't handle Hedwig's death, revised their copy to have the owl join all the other magical beings in a sanctuary where they recounted lessons learned. <3

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  32. I didn't like The Cat in the Hat. Even as a kid, I didn't like mess. I didn't mind sad stories as long as the ending was happy so I liked fairy tales, Little Women, Black Beauty and others. I enjoyed Harry Potter and Tolkein as an adult.

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  33. The minute I saw the topic, I thought of The Giving Tree and Ring of Bright Water. Wasn't too happy with Little Women. . . oh, Beth (sob). And did you ever read that obnoxious Victorian kid, Elsie Dinsmore? Precious thing who won't play the piano for her long-lost father because it's Sunday? Is told she can't leave the piano bench until she plays? Sits there until she (palely loitering), faints? As an antidote to all of the above, read Uncle Shelby's ABZs by Shel Silverstein.

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  34. Interesting topic today! I was never a fan of Roald Dahl stories, though I liked Matilda better than the other stories because this little girl was a strong person. A friend's daughter found the Velveteen Rabbit to be too sad. The Grimm brothers stories were not intended for children. I wonder if that is where the word "grim" comes from? LOL

    Liked many children's books. I cannot recall if there was a children's novel that I did not like or hated. However, there was a teen series that I loved until they killed off a character that reminded me of myself. I felt like the Will Ferrell character in the movie Stranger than Fiction. That series is no longer around. I never see these books anywhere.

    The Giving Tree, I think, was trying to teach a moral about what happens when you do not take care of the environment?

    Regarding the Hunger Games, I was too scared to read the books.

    Diana

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  35. Such a relief to be in the company of people who despise The Giving Tree, which should be subtitled "How to Raise a Selfish Child". Gack!! I cannot understand why so many people list it among their very favorites, and give it at baby showers. I think about "Old Yeller" very tenderly. Never read it, never will. My mother had not read it, either, but went to a book store and told them she wanted a book for her animal-loving daughter, and they sent her home with this as a birthday gift for me. I didn't have the heart to tell her they'd sold her something that would traumatize ten-year old me, so I put it in my dresser, where it hid away for many, many years. Protecting her feelings, protecting me from the horrors of "real life" that book wanted to expose me to.

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  36. What a great topic! I still cannot think of The Velveteen Rabbit without overwhelming sadness. It cut me straight to the marrow. I seem to remember crying so hard when my mother read it to me that I vomited.I could not bring myself to inflict it upon my own children.

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