It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.
So I thought long and hard about what to pair with the first book I am sharing here. Then with a little tongue in cheek I realized.. hmm.. this would pair well with the world-renowned mischievous boy of them all – the infamous Struwwelpeter. Makes sense. Here’s a celebration of the rebels, the rule-breakers and yes… Shock-headed Peter.
A Rule Is To Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy
By: John & Jana
Published by: Manic D Press, 2012 ISBN: 1933149256 (ISBN13: 9781933149257)
Bought copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
To say that this book is perfect for our theme would be an understatement, because this is exactly what we have in mind when we were thinking about the mischievous, the artists, the rebels in literature.
The curious thing about this book is that it was not ever explicitly mentioned whether this child here – this anarchy-loving creature with the blue hair -is a boy or a girl. And it totally works, because it is a non-issue.
So each full-page spread is devoted to a simple message that essentially encourages the child to become an independent thinker and to trust one’s own judgment. A few of the notes may work for some, but others may be an acquired taste, really, depending on what kind of parent or teacher you are.
I am only sharing a few here that stood out for me, because at its core is the need to educate one’s self, to pursue one’s line of thinking, to speak one’s mind, to “listen to the tiniest voice,” and to ostensibly engage in discussions about one’s thoughts and ideas. Of course there are a few that are just there for the sheer anarchy of it (Eat cake! For Dinner!), but always with the tongue-in-cheek, playful vibe filled with gleeful mischief.
A wondrous, fun read for those with a more progressive spirit who do not go so much for the moral-lesson, didactic type of reading.
Written and Illustrated by: Dr. Heinrich Hoffman
Published by: George Routledge and Sons Limited (first published 1845) ISBN: 0486284697 (ISBN13: 9780486284699)
Bought a German copy of the book. This edition borrowed from digital library of NLB. Book photos taken by me.
More than the brief little ditties found in this short anthology of cautionary tales for children is the fascinating story of how this book actually came about in the first place. Dr. Heinrich Hoffman, sometime in the late 1800s, wanted to buy his three-year-old son a book for a Christmas present, but was thoroughly dismayed by all the morally-laced stories that he described as “dry and pedagogic.” So he came up with a brilliant solution! He would write the stories himself!
Hence, the child learns about Harriet who played with matches and just look where she ended up, or little Conrad who loves sucking his thumb, see what happened to him:
Rather than simply share my thoughts with you about this book (which I absolutely adored), here is a fragment of an interview that I conducted with the inimitable children’s lit scholar, Leonard Marcus, for my edited book: