children’s bedtime stories

Mrs Tiggy Winkel was an excellent clear-starcher

Julia Moulden’s Huffington Post blog this week, “Which Bedtime Stories do you Love?”  [either the ones you shared with little ones or those from your own youth?] stirred up warm memories of bedtime stories with my kids.

Julia mentioned a few of her favorite childhood books, but Beatrix Potter wasn’t on her list. When we first started reading to our children, Potter’s beautifully illustrated child sized-books were among their top bedtime choices. Their favorites were Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy Winkel, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and Squirrel-Nutkin. Mr F and I knew them all by heart.

Earlier this year I met an older Canadian couple at the Children’s satellite store. The woman picked up a hedgehog from the finger puppet display, “What’s this?” she asked.

“Mrs Tiggy Winkel,” I said.

“Beatrix Potter?” she shuddered, and put it down.

“What’s wrong with her?” I asked.

“Too ‘cutesy-poo‘,” she said, “We didn’t allow her in our house.”

Her husband agreed, “Our four children read Winnie the Pooh, and the Wind in the Willows.”

well excuse me…!

Of course we also read the Wind in the Willows, and Winnie the Pooh (the original, with the Ernest Shepard illustrations, and not the ugly Disney version) to our children, who loved them.

Ernest Shepard illustration for "Halfway Down".

We all still love A.A. Milne’s poetry in When We Were Very Young e.g. “Half way down the stairs” and “[They’re changing guard at] Buckingham Palace”), and Now We Are Six.

*

Soon after meeting the ‘cutesy-poo’ Canadian couple, I saw a little girl of about six walking through the museum with a small, old-fashioned “going to market” kind of basket on her arm, and inside the basket, carefully wrapped up in a blanket, was a stuffed hedgehog.

“Hello Mrs Tiggy Winkel,” I said to the little animal peering at me from the basket.

But this little girl had never heard of Mrs Tiggie Winkel, or Beatrix Potter. Her hedgehog’s name was “Cutie”.

*

Does anyone else also enjoy the Beatrix Potter stories?

Did you know that Beatrix Potter self-published the The Tale of Peter Rabbit on 16 December 1901?

Beatrix Potter, Illustration to The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902, © F. Warne & Co., 2010
Beatrix Potter’s illustration to The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902, © F. Warne & Co., 2010

If you are a Beatrix Potter fan, “Peter Rabbit: the tale of the Tale” will be at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London through 8 January 2011.

Beatrix Potter’s tale of Peter Rabbit was written as a letter on 4 September 1893,  to Noel, the five-year-old son of her former governess, Annie Moore.  ‘I don’t know what to write to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits, whose names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter…’.

In the following years Beatrix sent more picture letters to Noel and his siblings, and in 1900 took Annie’s advice to try get Peter Rabbit published.

Several publishers rejected the manuscript. They wanted a larger, more expensive book with colour illustrations. Beatrix insisted her picture book be small (to fit a child’s hands) and be affordable, ‘little rabbits cannot afford to spend 6 shillings on one book and would never buy it’.

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About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
This entry was posted in Families don't you love them, Museum Musings, Wondering and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to children’s bedtime stories

  1. mark says:

    There is a wonderful film starring Rene Zelwiger re: Miss Poter’s life as a writer/illustrator. I love how the illustrations come to life. Check it out.

  2. dearrosie says:

    Thanks for telling me Mark. I look forward to watching it.
    Isn’t Rene Zelwiger American? Why couldn’t they get a British actress to play Miss Potter?

  3. linda goluboff says:

    hi wondering rose,
    i read to my son sam many different stories. there was never a question about the different books i read to him. there are the ones you mentioned and i also enjoyed them enjoyed them. there was never a question about it being cute
    thank you,
    wondering rose

  4. Boris says:

    O My!!! Fond and warm memories flood back, and as I sit moist-eyed with the feeling, I remember a few lines from A.A. Milne’s poem “Teddy Bear” whose message has consoled me many times over the years. It explains how by neglecting exercise one loses self-confidence as well as physical fitness, but reminds that no matter what physical package is one’s lot in this life, self confidence need not be a casualty.
    “A bear, however hard he tries,
    Grows tubby without exercise.
    Our Teddy Bear is short and fat,
    Which is not to be wondered at;
    He gets what exercise he can
    By falling off the ottoman,
    But generally seems to lack
    The energy to clamber back…”

    • dearrosie says:

      I’m sure A.A. Milne would be gratified to know how many adults, even in the twentieth century, can still recite his beautiful poetry. Isn’t it remarkable how a few lines of a well written poem can transport you back to those happy days of your childhood.

  5. such a LOVELY, lovely post!!
    my daughter wasn’t a big fan of a. a. milne but i sure was — and since i’m pretty much an undiscriminating lover of books as long as they’re beautifully illustrated and not too scary (“I Love You Forever” is completely freakish, in my humble opinion..) I would read whatever she liked. I’m a huge Rosemary Wells fan as well as anything illustrated by Garth whatever … Goodnight Moon was a perennial fave and of course all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books … and most all the Little Golden books about taxi-cabs and Doctor Dan and the poodle who owned the French bakery — wow! Flashback time .. thanks for getting me on this wild ride!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hey Betty,
      Thanks to Val for bringing me back here so I could re-read what you said Betty. I don’t know why I wasn’t answering comments last year, but heck I’m going to answer it now.
      I agree with your opinion of “I love you forever”. It makes me nauseous to even think of it. I cannot imagine why people think it’s so marvelous, and how can they weep every time they read it. Are they really reading it?

  6. Val says:

    Even though this is an old post, I’ve got to comment – I adore Beatrix Potter’s characters, and had them read to me when I was a child. I recently posted a photo of a Peter Rabbit tray that I used to have that was so well used that there was only the central part of the image left!

    Have you come across Alison Uttley? She also created some wonderful children’s characters, most famous of which was Little Grey Rabbit.

    I was brought up on these stories and A.A. Milne (though more for the poems than the stories – my husband bought me a copy of one of the Pooh Bear books a few years after we were married! Something you might enjoy if you’ve not read it is Christopher Milne’s autobiography (A. A. Milne’s son).

    • dearrosie says:

      Thanks for commenting here Val. It gives me great pleasure when someone finds old posts, and especially favourite one’s like this one, which I really enjoyed writing.

      I saw the photo of your Peter Rabbit tray. I love that you’ve kept it. Mr F knew and remembered the A.A. Milne stories and poems from his childhood, but he didn’t have any cups or trays.

      I haven’t read Christopher Milne’s autobiography. Thanks for the recommendation. I can’t imagine what kind of childhood he had being THE Christopher Robin!

      I don’t know why but we didn’t read Alison Uttley’s books. Next time I’m at the library I’ll go look for the Little Grey Rabbit.

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