Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Wonder Book

We are currently reading 'The Golden Touch', the story of King Midas in Nathaniel Hawthorne's A Wonder Book at bedtime in hopes of being able to enjoy most of the YR2 'free reads' (books read at any pace, any time, without narration; described as "books no child should miss"). From the looks of it and the rapid pace at which YR3 is creeping up on us, it's unlikely we'll get through them all :(

I found this beautiful picture on the online copy of the book on the Baldwin Project. Our copy unfortunately didn't come with these pictures. But... it was free from Kristine who picks up any books I may not already have for $1 here, a quarter there. Isn't that a wonderful kind of friend to have? Such a blessing, you have no idea! She's kind of like a drug dealer is to a drug addict... she brings me books every time I see her. Tells me she has something in the car for me. Last time it was both volumes of the Jungle Book and Treasure Island. It's getting out of hand :)

ANYHOW, I was reading The Golden Touch to the kids tonight and it's so fun because they just know what is going to happen now that he has the Golden Touch. He goes through the garden and touches all the roses and they turn to gold, and he is so pleased. Then he comes in from the garden for breakfast and Hawthorne writes:

What was usually a king's breakfast in the days of Midas, I really do not know, and cannot stop now to investigate. To the best of my belief, however, on this particular morning, the breakfast consisted of hot cakes, some nice little brook trout, roasted potatoes, fresh boiled eggs, and coffee, for King Midas himself, and a bowl of bread and milk for his daughter Marygold.

Then Marygold arrives in tears. She is sobbing. And my 6yo son blurts out "I know! It's the roses! She's sad about the roses because they don't smell anymore!" and he's right.

Marygold then sits down but is too distraught to eat.

"Poh, my dear little girl,—pray don't cry about it!" said Midas, who was ashamed to confess that he himself had wrought the change which so greatly afflicted her. "Sit down and eat your bread and milk. You will find it easy enough to exchange a golden rose like that (which will last hundreds of years) for an ordinary one which would wither in a day."

What a great lesson, right here with Midas and Marygold. I look at my children imagining what deep thoughts must be going through their minds. Then my 8yo daughter says

"Why doesn't she get what he has?!"


"Why doesn't she get trout and all those potatoes too!?"

Er, um, not what I was expecting.

"I don't know, they don't tell us why sweet pea. That's a great question."

The story goes on...

Amid these thoughts, he lifted a spoonful of coffee to his lips, and, sipping it, was astonished to perceive that, the instant his lips touched the liquid, it became molten gold, and, the next moment, hardened into a lump!

"Ha!" exclaimed Midas, rather aghast.

"What is the matter, father?" asked little Marygold, gazing at him, with the tears still standing in her eyes.

"Nothing, child, nothing!" said Midas. "Eat your milk, before it gets quite cold."

At this, my son interjects "It can't get cold, it's cold already!"


"The milk is cold already, it can't get cold... oh, I guess it could. maybe, it's probably from the cow."

Not quite the conversation an adult might expect spurring from Midas, but it's what crossed their questioning minds at that time. And I'm okay talking about age discrimination at the breakfast table and assumptions about milk - because it's hilarious and delightful! In fact, it's one of the very few things that can make a good story even better for me.

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