Hans Christian Andersen’s short story, The Little Match Girl, was a favorite of mine. This story haunted me. How sad this story was to me. In my world kids did not work outside of the normal house chores. Yet, this poor unnamed girl was made to sell matchsticks in the freezing cold.
I’d wondered, did this really happen? Was this based on a true story? And how could this happen? How could her parents send her out in the snowing weather? How could people in the story just ignore a starving, cold girl?
Hungry and shivering, she went along, poor little thing, a picture of misery.
And if I wasn’t sad enough, in this passage I’m reminded there was only one person in the entire world that cared for this little girl:
“Now, someone is dying,” said the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only person who had ever been good to her, and who was now dead, had said that when a star falls a soul goes up to heaven.
I had read many different versions of The Little Mermaid. Perhaps, there would be another happier version of The Little Match Girl. I sought out this disneyesque version, searching every collection of H.C. Andersen. I never found it. The story always ended the same:
But in the corner by the houses, in the cold dawn, the little girl was still sitting, with red cheeks and a smile upon her lips – frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. The new year’s sun shone on the little body. The child sat up stiffly, holding her matches, of which a box had been burned. “She must have tried to warm her-self,” someone said. No one knew what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother on the joyous new year.
Re-reading this as an adult, I am reminded that in many countries children are selling on the streets so that they might have a bit to eat. In this country there are many children without homes and without enough to eat. The story continues to haunt me. What can I do so a poor child does not die on the streets? Perhaps, by answering this question, I will find my happier ending.
For more January 2012 Books That Made Me Love Reading Click HERE
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sunday, January 15, 2012
I’ve signed up for a fun reading challenge!
Re-read and review one book a month from your youth. Any treasured book that fostered a love for reading.
Like many kids, my first love was Dr. Seuss. Green, Eggs, and Ham was a favorite Dr. Seuss book in my house. One day, my brother, sister and I pondered what we could eat that was green. My father offered to make us green spaghetti. We cheered with delight. While we anxiously waited for our green spaghetti my mother left to get her own dinner at Taco Bell. With a sly smile, not unlike the Grinch, my father served us our dinner. To our horror and disgust it was nothing more than pureed green peas and pasta!
But I digress…
On to the world of Hans Christian Andersen, I read the original stories and all the adaptations available to me. Though, in my child’s mind, I did wonder why an author would do an adaptation and not come up with his or her own story? It felt a bit like cheating. Yet, I loved reading and re-reading every version I came across.
Reading these stories in my room or in my favorite oak tree I was transported into magical realms.
From the imaginative worlds of Hans Christian Andersen, I embarked into real life tales such as the survival story of an American Indian girl named Karana, in Scott O’Dell’s, Island of the Blue Dolphins. I remember reluctantly putting this book down when my mother called me to dinner.
In Junior High, I plucked from my parent’s shelf, Nicholas and Alexandra, the tragic true tale of the last Tsar of Russia and his family, by Robert K. Massie. Like most young girls my age I wondered and hoped Anastasia had escaped with her life. To this day, I like to imagine that she did.
Now, off I go to select my first book. It may be one of the ones mentioned here or another one all together. So many books to chose from, so many memories. What were some of your favorite childhood books? Feel like going down memory lane and joining the challenge? Click here: 2012 Books That Made Me Love Reading Challenge