A few weeks back, I participated in a meme about kid’s books. I remembered two books from my childhood that I liked, so I checked them out of the library to see if I would like them now. The experiment was both interesting and fun, but it yielded mixed results. I can’t say with conviction that I enjoyed either of these as an adult.
Starting my trip down memory lane with The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese, I am still charmed by the illustrations, which have the muted texture and shades of crayon, with the distinctive boldness of brushed ink lines. The art is simple, with only enough detail to establish the setting. Ping is very expressive, despite the lack of details. I love the art.
Now, the story is a different matter. I fondly recalled Ping not wanting to be the last duck on the boat, because the last duck on the boat gets a smack on the back from the Master of the boat. One day, while Ping is fishing, he doesn’t hear the call to board the boat, and it becomes very clear to him that he will be the last duck to board. Instead of manning (or would that be ducking) up, he decides to hide instead. So begins his big adventure, which almost results in Ping getting served for dinner by the family that catches him. Wait?! I don’t remember that!? Ping was almost dinner?! Oh, my gosh! He is the sad captive of this family for almost a day, trapped in a basket as they plan their evening meal. With Ping as the main course!
I didn’t like this book now that I’m an adult, and I don’t understand why I had such a strong reaction to it. Ping obviously escapes to be reunited with his large duck family, but for several pages, I was very anxious for him, and I didn’t like feeling like that. I was upset! I didn’t remember any of that, so I wonder if I actually understood that particular plot point when I was younger. I don’t think I did, because I have a difficult time, and have for as long as I can remember, reading anything about animals getting hurt. So, this book didn’t live up to my memories of it.