Monday, January 08, 2018

Dream Life For Children

Dream Life for Children. Mattie K. Foster. 1918. 178 pages. [Source: Read online]

First sentence: In a great room of a great house in Philadelphia, looking from a great window, out into the great world, stood, one dreary morning, a wee little boy.

Premise/plot: Dream Life for Children is a collection of eight children's stories by Mattie K. Foster. As the title "Dream Life" alludes these stories are fantastical, the work of an imagination.

The eight stories are: "Eliza," "Papagei, The Wonderful Parrot," "Smashemallup's Victory," "The Mermaid's Ball," "The Snail and the Leaf Fairy," "The Fair Leona," "The Famous Oyster," and "A Dream."

In "Eliza," readers meet a "wee little boy" named Charlie and his doll, Eliza. Upset that his cat, Tom, is missing, he follows the advice of his forceful doll and goes upstairs to the garret to see a picture-cat, Elfrieda. But the garret is locked, and, it seems that the only action of the story will be an unwitnessed fit. But this story is about to enter the Twilight Zone, the garret door is unlocked by the cat who has jumped out of the picture on the wall, and ANYTHING is possible now.

In "Papagei, The Wonderful Parrot," readers meet a parrot, of course, who's newly gifted to the royal family. The Prince takes the parrot along with him on his quest for the PERFECT bride.
Be a maiden clever, she will be good; be a maiden good, she will be beautiful; be she all of these, how easy to be rich.
This story is packed with fairy-tale like adventure and is pure delight from start to finish.

"The Mermaid's Ball" is a satisfying story starting Titans, mermaids, a sea monster, and the moon.

The other stories are more of a mixed bag going from odd to quirky to peculiar to STRANGE, STRANGE, VERY STRANGE.

For example, "Smashemallup's Victory" is a quirky story with action and romance. Lady Fay is under the guardianship of Hardknuckle. Once she has learned words--how to talk--she will be given in marriage. She does not like her potential suitor--an ugly dwarf. But there may be a way to defeat him and learn the parts of speech at the same time.

Some of the stories are so strange, so out there that you couldn't possibly believe that any children's story could be THAT over-the-top strange unless you read it yourself.

My thoughts: I liked the story Eliza. It is several chapters long. I enjoyed Charlie and his attachment to his doll, Eliza. I liked that Charlie is so very attached to her that she is REAL to him for better or worse. (Think Velveteen Rabbit.) The story is imaginative and a bit quirky, but it stars a mesmerizing, steal-the-scene cat. Overall, I really enjoyed it. My favorite story, however, was the one about the prince and the parrot. It was one of the longer stories. Out of all the stories in the entire book, this one was the most broadly appealing. I think any reader could enjoy this one.

I am glad I read this one--even the strange stories. This one won't appeal to all readers, of course. But I think it is interesting to see what was being written for children a hundred years ago.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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