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Havsbarnen (1863)

av Charles Kingsley

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The adventures of Tom, a sooty little chimney sweep with a great longing to be clean, who is stolen by fairies and turned into a water baby.

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This is stated to be a fairy tale. Naturally, because it was written in the mid-19th century, it's highly moralistic. The idea is to teach young'uns how to be good little boys and girls and grow up to be fine men and women.

Anyway, it's the story of a benighted chimney sweep's helper, Tom. Tom is abused by his master, but doesn't expect much better. But, they go off to a fancy house, and Tom gets lost in the chimney flues and creates rather a ruckus when he comes out in the wrong place, a filthy, little, soot-encrusted urchin, in a room of gentile women and girls all in frilly white. Something like that. The girls scream, of course and Tom flees to save his life.

Tom ends up "falling" into a river and is carried away, essentially to be cleansed and turned into a good person. So, he plays with creatures for a time, but then a good fairy sets him on a quest for redemption, one part of which is to find a way to reconcile with and also redeem his nasty master.

Well, this reads like a bed time story made up by a drunk uncle who has to go on and on because the damn kids won't fall asleep. So there are all sorts of asides and cataloging of creatures and the like. It's rather tedious and confusing in parts, but in the end, it's not too bad a read. And, here we find out about Mother Carey's Chickens, the stormy petrels who go out to bring the good birds home.
( )
  lgpiper | Jan 10, 2021 |
Here's something that's been on my TBR shelf literally since before I was born. My mother kept her own copy, an award from a 1925 school essay contest in Ottawa, at the cabin we went to in Quebec every summer. I don't recall her ever reading it to me, but since her death it's been on my own shelves and I finally decided I couldn't let another 70 years go by without reading it.

10-year-old Tom, a poorly treated chimney sweep, completely uneducated and social untrained, loses himself in a complex chimney system and comes down in the bedroom of a family's young daughter. He's assumed to be a thief and is chased hither and yon by a crowd, finally escaping them only to drown not too far away. He's taken in hand by fairies and turned into a water baby, promptly forgetting his past and having numerous adventures with all sorts of real and (to us) unreal creatures. Along the way he's taught good behavior in ways some educators might find useful. Two of his teachers are Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid and her sister, Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby.

It's a charming book, with but a few phrases that are now politically incorrect. I was actually surprised it wasn't worse, to be honest. The content that I found most jarring was the occasional veiled reference to a holy child, which seemed completely out of place in the middle of a fairy tale. I went back and read the book's description in "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die", which pointed out that this was written only a couple of years after publication of "On The Origin of Species" and was very much concerned with evolutionary progression and regression.

At any rate, it's a charming tale and it was a pleasure to finally read it. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Feb 9, 2019 |
Tom, a young chimney-sweep in Victoria England, escapes the abuse of Mr.Grimes, his boss, and quickly finds himself in an adventure saga under the sea. This adventure is for Tom an exploration of the big world and its inhabitants, as well as a teaching of how to be good in the world. I appreciate the little nuggets of wisdom.

This novel may not be accessible for today's youth. The language is dense and unfamiliar in places, and the plot rambles on. I stuck with it, but novice readers may not have the stamina. ( )
  AlbertPascal | Feb 21, 2018 |
After having slogged through The Water Babies once again I have come to the conclusion that that had it not been for the glorious illustrations of Jessie Wilcox Smith I might never return to this moralistic fairy tale. What I once found clever in my youth I now find repellent. ( )
  kimkimkim | Oct 2, 2017 |
The Water-Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby by Charles Kingsley
This children’s fantasy book tells an amazing tale of a poorly treated boy, an English chimney sweep set in the mid 1800’s, Tom, who after falsely accused of a crime runs for his life to find himself turned into a water-baby by fairies. The illustration in the children’s book has much to say about the character and lends meaning to the text with simple pencil sketches of the appearance of what a 3.97802-inch water-baby would look like; depicted as how one would be in nature, there was no indecency as some may argue of the naked child caricature; innocence was what I saw in the simple sketches drawn by a reverend. This fantastic story has symbolism of one’s journey through life and the challenges we must overcome to get to our final destination. It even has a message for the abuser. We have much to learn from this author about social observations he has wittingly placed throughout the book and those in its final pages. A great read for all ages and a wonderful children’s book to share at bedtime with a traditional theme of good against the wicked and a certain twist when the wicked has been forced to see the nature of their way and given one chance to make it right. The story provides final words of wisdom to not become an etch from a water-baby.
Personal Reaction:
I was by today’s standards, emotionally and physically abused and found this story to work with me on so many levels. The character of our protagonist is naïve yet open to experience; frail and tiny but brave and true to his word. Abused by his master, Tom accepted his fate as just the way it was and not so bad; the undeserved beatings hurt less than the job. It was not until he feared for his life that he made an escape. In so many situations we see what we want to see often leading to missed information and sometime permanent harm to the victim and in this case to the town that search with no success once the folly was understood. The integral setting allowed me to live, breath, touch and feel every new experience Tom endured during his adventure to adulthood.

Classroom Extension Ideas
1. This is too much to read in any one setting but for an older child assignment, it has a story for the abused and how to not be the victim. It screams resilience of children and a coping attitude. All children would benefit from the understanding that is so right there to see.
2. Teachers could break this story into parts; assigning some to discovering what it says about abuse; others to what it says about the abused and others assigned to report how the community of fairies were able to service the victim and then others on how some of the community allowed the abuse to go on, had biased opinions and prejudice of appearance.
3. During the week or month that highlights zero tolerance for child abuse: children assigned to read this great piece of children’s literature can bring in stories from information sources about what their community offers as help services and why it is important to understand report procedures. How it is not acceptable for educators to ignore the signs of abuse. ( )
  jp942205 | Jul 15, 2017 |
Visa 1-5 av 37 (nästa | visa alla)
In parts political tract, scientific satire, Christian parable as well as children’s fantasy, it is a moving and uncomfortable book when read as child, and is even more unsettling when read as an adult. It emerged from a sense of social outrage, took on the big questions of belief and biology, and is eye-catching for a work by a 19th-century vicar in that reveals a world created and ruled not by gods, but by goddesses. Not only did it have a huge effect on young readers, it also helped to reform legislation that relieved the suffering of innumerable young people such as Tom, who had been forced to crawl inside chimneys to keep them clean.
tillagd av KayCliff | ändraThe Guardian, Richard Cole (Jul 11, 2016)
His most famous work, The Water-Babies, is an odd book which is at once a children’s classic, a moral fable, a response to the theory of evolution, and a satire on Victorian attitudes to child labour and religion.
tillagd av KayCliff | ändraInteresting Literature

» Lägg till fler författare (53 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Charles Kingsleyprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Attwell, Mabel LucieIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Beards, Richard D.Redaktörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Goble, WarwickIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Italiander, MikeIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Johnstone, Anne GrahameIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Johnstone, Anne GrahameIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Johnstone, Janet GrahameIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Kirk, Maria L.Illustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
MacDonald, RobertaIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Mozley, CharlesIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Robinson, W. HeathIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Sambourne, LinleyIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Tarrant, Margaret W.Illustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Vihervaara, LyyliÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Wall Perné, Gust van deIllustratörmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Once upon a time there was a little chimney-sweep, and his name was Tom.
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No one has a right to say that no water-babies exist, till they have seen no water-babies existing.
And whither she went, thither she came.
It's so beautiful, it must be true!
If my story is not true, something better is.
Wise men know that their business is to examine what is, and not to settle what is not.
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The adventures of Tom, a sooty little chimney sweep with a great longing to be clean, who is stolen by fairies and turned into a water baby.

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