Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Monday, August 27, 2007


Trying to be a good child

One hundred years ago, a woman named Laura Lee Hope wrote a book for children about a family with two sets of twins: the Bobbsey Twins. The older twins were a boy named Bert and a girl named Nan. The younger twins were named Flossie and Freddie. They had adventures like going on picnics, to the zoo, or traveling. They were always very, very good. They never did anything wrong!

A lot of children loved reading about the Bobbsey Twins, and the author wrote many more books about them. In the first books, pictures showed that Flossie, Freddie, Bert, and Nan wore clothing that now looks very very old-fashioned. In the first picture, you can see how they looked 100 years ago.

Readers liked the Bobbsey twins so much that new copies of the books and new adventures kept being published for every generation. When I was a little girl, I saw old and new books. In the new ones, Flossie and Freddie and all wore clothes like me and my friends: for example, like the blue dress with a white collar that Flossie is wearing on The Bobbsey Twins at Home. Arny always wore tee shirts like the one Freddie is wearing.

More recently, the Bobbsey Twin books have been given more new pictures. They now dress like Miriam and Alice and their friends. Sometimes the adventures are written again, or new stories are written. These stories seem as if they were happening right now. I think that Bert, Nan, Flossie, and Freddie are still very very good. They haven't changed in 100 years.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was a lady -- a very odd lady -- in another book. My third-grade teacher used to read it to us, and I also read some of the books to myself. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle tried to help children who were not doing what they should. She convinced dirty children to take a bath and wash their ears. She convinced children that they should help their mothers do chores like washing dishes. She convinced children to go to bed when they were supposed to. Her ideas on how to convince them were odd, but the children always had to be good.

The Piggle-Wiggle books were very, very funny. This was different from the Bobbsey Twin books, which weren't funny at all. When you read about the Bobbsey Twins, I think you were supposed to wish that you were as good as the they were, and be sorry if you weren't. In other words: you were supposed to learn a lesson.

When children had problems being good, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle would help them. But the children always ended up being very very good -- maybe as good as the Bobbsey Twins. I think you were supposed to see how to be good by reading Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. Even though it was funny, you could still learn a lesson.

Junie B. Jones and Ramona

Children now might like to read about very very good children -- but they also like to read about children who are more like themselves. Real children are not good all the time. They do things because they don't understand what their mothers, their teachers, their school-bus drivers, or other grownups want them to do.

No matter how much people tell them to be good, to be polite, to speak correctly, and to help other people, and no matter how many books they read, real children just can't be good all the time. Neither can real grownups. Every reader doesn't want to learn a lesson in every chapter!

Junie B. Jones and Ramona are girls in some newer books. Elaine said I should mention that Ramona dates to the time when Evelyn was a child; Junie B. is even newer, but they are way later than my childhood.

Junie B. and Ramona are much more like real children than the Bobbsey Twins or the children in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. When Junie B. does something wrong, and someone yells at her, she often starts to cry because she really didn't mean to be bad. She knows she should think out what she's doing, but sometimes she's mad or scared, or just doesn't understand.

Her teacher says "Please, Junie B. You simply must try to control yourself better in class. We've talked about this before, remember?" But Junie B. has a reason why she isn't doing what she should. She can't help it. And her friend who tells her "I always control myself" is not much help either.

Ramona is like Junie B. Jones. She doesn't think she is a pest -- but she just can't help it. And it's funny.

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