Was Tootle tyrannized?

The most ludicrous debate seems to me that between various contemporary readers of Tootle, the train that was taught to stay on the tracks . Tootle’s story is not the same as The Little Engine that Could -but it brings up why on earth did they have to dispense with the original art? I would’ve thought that old children’s books are an important means of transmitting culture, and that includes the art.

But actually I only read about Tootle and the Little Engine that Could in school. At home, my early reading was strictly 19th and early 20th centuries. My favorite (and I think my only) books were:

“A Child’s Garden of Verses” (Robert Louis Stevenson)

“Just So Stories (Illustrated by Author)” (Rudyard Kipling)

“Richard Halliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels: Occident & Orient” (Richard Halliburton)

I still the Kipling volume my father gave me, a facsimile edition of the original; the Halliburton set he’d located with great difficulty was shredded by a puppy; I only managed to buy another set after my father had passed away.

And I was nuts over Ladybird books, reading them over and over so that many of the illustrations and stories are still vivid in my mind. I can even remember exactly which titles I had (the editions prior the uglier blue-bordered ones): William the Conqueror, Sir Walter Raleigh, The Story of Nelson, Julius Caesar and Roman Britain, Charles II, Oliver Cromwell, Warwick the Kingmaker, King John and the Magna Carta, Great Civilizations -Egypt, Samuel Pepys,

The other books I had were the Philacor series of books for children with Philippine culture, myths and legends, and history topics:

The stirrings of nationalism in the early 1970s opened an awareness of the importance of books and stories that played up Filipino values and traditions. In 1974, the Philippine Appliance Corporation (Philacor) sponsored the publication of a book series called The Young People’s Library. Its list of titles includes: Filipino Rites and Rituals, Filipino Myths and Legends, Games Filipino Children Play, Profiles in Achievement, Pagdiriwang I, Pagdiriwang II, and Filipino Arts and Crafts. The books were lavishly illustrated, printed in full color and hardbound.

I’ve never seen them since but they were beautiful books. Also, there were Nick Joaquin’s Pop Stories for Groovy Kids. Except the illustrations of one of his stories gave me nightmares.
In retrospect, oddly enough, my father had nothing against comic books. Tintin and Asterix were fine, but I couldn’t buy American comic books because they were National Bookstore reprints and he objected to that for some reason (or maybe to disguise a bias against American super heroes).

I suspect I was also the last child in the 20th century to thoroughly enjoy the Biggles novels, which, apparently, have been purged from many modern libraries! Biggles and comic books were my main reading from about fourth grade on (with an equally archaic detour to -now it seems, 1954-1971 incarnation of- the Tom Swift stories and a little Hardy Boys -in their 1927-79 incarnation).

In my early teens I abandoned history for science fiction, beginning with (I didn’t realize it at the time) an extremely rare set of the Mars novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The transition was made easy from a really beautiful graphic novel of Tarzan of the Apes (see this interesting essay on the story and book) illustrated by Burne Hogarth. Apparently the graphic novel’s still available: “Tarzan of the apes” (Burne Hogarth).

It was only after going through an Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke obsession in 7th grade(along with a parallel obsession with Agatha Christie mysteries, Hercule Poirot novels in particular) that I moved on to Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series and Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality which got me back on a historically-minded track with the Horatio Hornblower books in 8th grade with Cristie being dropped as my parallel set of reading in favor of P.G. Wodehouse. My mind turned morbid in the 9th grade, with a focus on.Stephen King books, and then Tolkien in the year after that; after which non-fiction came to dominate my reading.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

6 thoughts on “Was Tootle tyrannized?

  1. JoMa hirelings should raise marijuana:

    Troops battle 10-foot marijuana plants Fri Oct 13, 8:48 AM ET

    OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy — almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet-high marijuana plants.

    General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff, said on Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.

    “The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It’s very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices … and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don’t dodge in and out of those marijuana forests,” he said in a speech in Ottawa.

    “We tried burning them with white phosphorous — it didn’t work. We tried burning them with diesel — it didn’t work. The plants are so full of water right now … that we simply couldn’t burn them,” he said.

    Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.

    “A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action,” Hillier said dryly.

  2. UP Student, “A child’s garden of grass (J.S. Margolis)” could do an upadte with the Talibans use of Mary Jane.

    MLQ3, have you read that one (A child’s garden of grass)? I hear it’s a good one.

  3. The swashbuckling novels of Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad were great narratives that stimulated the imagination of many young boys before movies and videos became so easy to access. There were also the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe and O. Henry . . . brief tales with wonderful punch lines at the end. Of course, the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift novels were depression-era and WWII tales that could light up the fantasies of pre-pubescent boys, even decades after they had been published. Puberty brought on more complicated stuff. “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth was a must-read for teenagers curious about sex in the 1970’s. I also read “Catcher in the Rye” during my teen-age years in the ‘70’s, well over 20 years after the book was initially published. For a while there, I really began thinking about how phony everything was. There were also the outrageously satiric novels of Kurt Vonnegut (Breakfast of Champions, Slaughterhouse Five) and the Dickensian novels of John Irving (The World According to Garp, Ragtime) that were popular in the 1970’s. Of course I cannot forget Alex Comfort’s “The Joy of Sex”, a ground-breaking manual on sex that was patterned on the classic “The Joy of Cooking”, a cook book of all things! Wow! That book really stimulated the most active sexual human organ . . . the brain. Many men . . . and perhaps more women . . . had their sexual fantasies fulfilled after that book was published.

    There was a time I was fascinated by the nihilistic beauty and stoicism of Yukio Mishima’s novels. I also enjoyed the elegant sensuality of W. Somerset Maugham’s novels, particularly those with an Asian setting.

    With regard to comic books, I would still say that Mad Magazine really was a milestone as far as humorous cartoons were concerned. Although it was created before my time, its influence goes on until today. And Stan Lee and Marvel Comics made a huge impact on the super-hero category during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Sure, Superman, Batman and Captain Marvel were around since before WWII. But Marvel added a new dimension to the super heroes. Stan Lee’s super heroes had super powers, alright. But they also had problematic personalities that ordinary folk could relate to. Movies about “Spiderman”, “X-men”, “Hulk” and even the recent Batman releases depicting a brooding super hero are tributes to the genius of Stan Lee. Among local comic strips, Nonoy Marcelo’s “Tisoy” and “Ikabod” were the most popular and witty. They run for a long and significant period . . . from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. They covered an important era in Philippine history, probably even more than “Kenkoy” and other comic characters did in the past.

    With TV and video so easily available, I don’t know if the younger generation will still appreciate the written word as much. But life comes in cycles. Who knows? Maybe someday the written word will enjoy a renaissance.

  4. I wonder if the comics strip “Kenkoy” is still around? I used to spend hours when I was a kid at my Lola’s house reading from her collection of magazines (Liwayway, was it?) and among the things I looked forward to reading was Kenkoy–it was in black and white, simple, funny, and to a girl just starting to read it was kind of an eye-opener. Is there a way we can access Filipino literature, including comics and children’s books, through the internet?

  5. Correction: “Ragtime” was by EL Doctorrow not John Irving. Having read both around the same time, I got them confused.

  6. One of my favorites in elementary school was Edward Lear’s A Book of Nonsense, such that I think limericks are a legitimate form of poetry to this very day, and the only form I read and enjoy. Mababaw lang ako e. 😀

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