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.
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?
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’.