May 22, 2008

Review: A Wonder Book

A Wonder Book
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne is best known for The Scarlet Letter but he also wrote a few children's storybooks, A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls being one of them, followed shortly afterward by the more popularly known Tanglewood Tales.

A Wonder Book is the story of a young man and the stories he recreates for the group of children in his charge. But really it is about the Greek myths that he uses his vivid imagination on. Each of the 6 myths are sandwiched between descriptions of when and where Eustace Bright is tell them, on the porch at Tanglewood, near Shadow Brook, on a mountaintop, etc. Hawthorne can give some very charming descriptions such as this one:
The Little brook ran along over its pathway of gold, here pausing to form a
pool, in which minnows were darting to and fro; and then it hurried onward at a
swifter pace as if in haste to reach the lake; and, forgetting to look whither
it went, it tumbled over the root of a tree, which stretched quite across its
current. You would have laughed to hear how noisily it babbled about this
accident. And even after it had run onward, the brook still kept smitten,
I suppose, at finding its dark dell so illuminated, and at hearing the prattle
and merriment of so many children. So it stole away as quickly as it
could, and hid itself in the lake.
Not all of the descriptions are this much fun; in fact, most are pretty verbose, but then he hints at his great admiration of Washington Irving. If you have ever read Rip Van Winkle then you know just what I am talking about.

While I did not find this the best book of mythology for reading aloud to my children I will say that it is a great source of vocabulary. My kindergartner did not understand every word but he certainly wanted more each day. I found it charming and will be seeking out Tanglewood Tales for summer reading.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I have "The Scarlett Letter", "The House With Seven Gables", and "The Blithedale Romance" but I had no idea Hawthorne had written children's storybooks!