Fuse #8

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

No, Brer Fox. Don't Throw Fauntleroy In the Briar Patch! Please!

You know how American filmmakers have a tendency to adapt Britkidlit (oh, it is so too a word) for their own devices? Yeah, uh, John Patterson at The Guardian isn't pleased.

First off, points for the title of the article Play In Your Own Secret Garden. Patterson is fairly pissed off about Renee Zellweger getting cast as Beatrix Potter in that now already forgotten film (must be some kinda record). He takes issue with Dick Van Dyke's accent in Mary Poppins (I prefer to see it, as Eddie Izzard did, as Australian - i.e. "Put another shrimp on the barbie, Mary Poppins."), and doesn't like that we Yanks keep stealing his nation's books. The solution?
It would be interesting to see what might happen if a bunch of Brits started returning the favour and stomping all over America's prized kiddie library.
Fair enough. So am I a bad person then for laughing when I read this next part?
If we dared to cast one of our promising young brats in a version of Little Lord Fauntleroy, or knocked out an all-chav version of Little Women or Little House On The Prairie, there'd be economic sanctions on toy exports and Sherman tanks parked in front of Hamley's within a fortnight.
Mr. Patterson, I'm going to be big about this and let you know that you may have Fauntleroy. Please. Take him. Forever. I promise you, we won't cry too hard. *shudder*

Cinematical, as always, has a lovely response to Patterson's article that's worth taking into consideration as well. All in all, a great series of interesting ideas.

Now who can tell me exactly what this Stig of the Dump is?


At 7:25 AM , Anonymous Ian Beck said...

Dear Fuse 8 Ian Beck again, I do enjoy your entries always, I am moved to reply to your question about Stig of the Dump, a book which was memorably illustrated by the peerless Edward Ardizzone, I have copied this info on the book from Wikpedia, so treat with caution, see below

Stig of the Dump is a children's novel by Clive King written in 1963. It is an eternal favourite with children and parents alike and was adapted for television, firstly by Thames Television for ITV in 1981 and later by the BBC in 2002.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Stig of the Dump (1963). 1971 Puffin paperback edition. 157 pages
Stig is a caveman who lives at the bottom of the old quarry close to Barney's grandmother's house. Since the quarry is no longer in use, people throw all their rubbish away down there.

Barney finds Stig by falling through the roof of Stig's den. Barney and Stig become friends, even though they cannot talk to each other. Stig and Barney have a series of adventures together, including catching burglars breaking into Barney's grandmother's house. One night Barney and his sister Lou cannot sleep and get transported back to Stig's time where they spend a night helping his tribe complete a stone circle, or megalith.

Stig means "path" in Swedish; the name indicates that a person is a pathfinder.

At 7:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And while I'm sure you know this, The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy (about which no one gives a rat's ransom) have the same, American, author. And while the Brits might well try mucking with , say, Little Women, they'd probably do a lovely job. For that matter, let's throw 'em Huckleberry Finn -- there's never been a remotely decent job of it (primarily because the producers persist in believing it's a children's book because the protagonist is a child, so they're screwed before they start.)

Wow, THAT clears the system -- and not even 8 a.m. yet!

At 10:26 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Why hello, Mr. Beck! What an informative piece of literary info you've just provided. I did a quick search of my library system to see if I could get my hands on a copy of that book, but no go. We apparently owned some sound cassettes of that title years ago, but they've long since disappeared. This would make an excellent reissue for The New York Review of Books, don't you think?

And I should point out that while it wasn't big budget or with huge names, the BBC production of "The Secret Garden" is one of my favorite versions out there today. So.... there you go.

One should remember too that the best version

At 5:19 PM , Blogger Brooke said...

Is it worth mentioning that Mary Poppins is an Australian novel? At least, just about everyone in Australia considers it to be so. Kinda puts Dick Van Dyke's accent in context, when you think about it.

As for the Americanization of Britkidlit (love that word), I think the biggest stinker of them all has to be "Pollyanna." Sheesh, Disney didn't even TRY setting the darn thing in the UK.
Although, it kinda makes Haley Mills' accent a bit more explainable, too . . . hmm.

At 2:54 AM , Blogger Christy Lenzi said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2:58 AM , Blogger Christy Lenzi said...

Mr. P. sounds rather imperialistic (and kinda crabby).

At 2:05 PM , Anonymous Carl in Charlotte said...

Hey everyone--I'm a children's librarian (or should say that I work at a children's library--I don't have a MLS) and have been having fun reading this great blog. I want to step up to the defense of a neglected book. How many of you have actually READ Little Lord Fauntleroy? Recently? I read it a couple of years ago in an American Classics of Children's Lit class and was prepared to be thoroughly bored but guess what--I couldn't put it down! Sure, it's the old cute-innocent-meets-crusty-old-guy story but it works! It's believalbe, not overly sugary or sentimental (the crusty old guy really isn't very nice and his inevitable transformation comes slowly), and you really come to care about the characters. It's a good book and deserves to be rediscovered. In fat, I'll throw another bomb aout there and say that I agree with the professor of that class in stating that LLF is far superior to The Secret Garden! There! I've said it. Does anyone agree? Disagree? I'd be interested to hear what you have to say. Thanks! PS--I'd recommend finding an Aladdin Classics copy of LLF and read Polly Hovarth's intro.

At 1:42 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Wow! Better than "Secret Garden"? I dunno, man. I consider that book to be the perfect children's novel in every way. But I admit, with hangdog head and weepy eye, that I have never read LLF. I even have the Aladdin Classic with the Horvath intro in my library (though the pairing of Horvath with Burnett is giving me much scratchings of the head). You know what? I'm going to post a "Who's Read This?" posting regarding LLF just for you, my friend. We'll get to the bottom of this business once and for all.

Lovely hearing from you, by the way. I hear nothing but good things about Charlotte, though I've never been lucky enough to visit there myself. How are the libraries?

At 4:05 PM , Anonymous Carl in Charlotte said...

I left a lengthy comment here earlier. Did it make it or did it disappear?

At 9:32 AM , Anonymous Carl in Charlotte said...

I've tried to publish some lengthy posts here twice but they disappear--I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Anyway, I want4ed to thank you for not only responding to my post but even publishing it on your blog! I am so honored!
The libraries are doing quite well here in Charlotte. In fact Charles Brown, our director, was in Washington DC yesterday accepting an award from Laura Bush! The Public Library Charlotte Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) recieved an award from the Institute of Museum and Library for outstanding service to the community. To read about it, go to our homepage (www.plcmc.org) and you'll see a link to a news aticle about it. I work at Imaginon, a rare and wonderful place. I could rave all day about it, but why don't you go to www.imaginon.org and see for yourself.
My other post included reasons why I thought LLF better than Secret Garden. If you'd like to see them, let me know. If not, I hope we can keep in touch.


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