Wednesday, September 24, 2014

130. The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby

The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for A Land Baby
Charles Kingsley
Around 300 pages

This particular Land Baby had trouble sitting down to write this review.  In addition to reading this novel, I have been working my way through Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust.  The language in that novel is so unbelievably beautiful that I now feel like a complete idiot every time I open my mouth or put pen to paper.  But despite the discovery of my new suck factor, we must carry on and get to Water-Babies.

I got my hands on an absolutely gorgeous illustrated version of this novel.  Although I suppose it is not too hard to find a copy of this book with pictures, since it is essentially a children's novel.  Since it isn't listed in 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Die, I assumed it was going to be a fairy tale for adults.  But honestly, you would have to be a child to be able to swallow all this preaching without gagging.

Our main character here is a young, extremely dirty chimney sweep named Tom who is often beaten by his master.  After breaking into a young girl's house, Tom is chased by a mob to a pond, where he ultimately drowns.  He then becomes a water-baby and is only allowed to become a land-baby again if he can realize the error of his ways (ie it is actually not that nice to try to break horses' legs all the time).  He meets a lot of interesting creatures such as talking salmon and extremely annoying, self righteous fairies.

What can I say about Pilgrim's Progress for Kids?  At least this had talking lobsters.  I do enjoy fairy tales, but I hate having morals shoved down my throat.  I guess anybody who names a character Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby isn't a master of subtlety.

Still, this book is good for a few cute lines and pretty pictures.  Did I really just say that?  This blog is really in a state of decline.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Includes many slurs against Jews, Catholics, the Irish, black people, and Americans.  Well, I am glad that Kingsley insulted Americans as well so that I could be insulted too.  It is nice to feel included.

Considered a satire of the moral tales often published during this era.  Oh, so it was meant to be annoying?  Nope, still don't get it.

UP NEXT: Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky


  1. I just have to say that I admire the fact that you actually read this. I tried years ago and I tried again recently. COULD NOT DO IT! Too preachy and that is saying a lot as I used to love Louisa May Alcott as a child! (Very preachy)

    1. I really can't stand the preaching either so I am somewhat amazed that I got through this.