Literary Cannon Does Not have An Age Requirement

The early American children’s text that I chose to compare was Mary Had a Little Lamb by Lowell Manson (1831) and the contemporary piece of children’s literature: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (1964).

Mary Had a Little Lamb by Lowell Manson (1831) is about a little girl who had a pet lamb whom she loved as much as it loved her. One day she decided to take the lamb to school with her even though she was not allowed to. The lamb was a huge distraction in school, therefore her teacher kicked him out of the school. After patiently waiting nearby for Mary to be dismissed from school, the lamb expressed its love for Mary by running into her arms with joy.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (1964) was written over a century later, yet it can be considered just as important to the literary canon as Mary Had a Little Lamb. These two pieces of literature are both poems that are used for children’s pleasure (as well as adult pleasure). Aside from this, they both have one major thing in common: the expression of a powerful relationship between a human being and something that is not human and ends in a positive joyful way.  They both have a theme in which there is some sort of separation between the two and they end up together at the end of the story. Mary leaves her lamb because she needs to attend school and her lamb is not allowed in. Towards the end of the story she ends up happily with the lamb anyway, “Till Mary did appear; And then he ran to her, and laid his head upon her arm… What makes th’ lamb love Mary so!” The boy in The Giving Tree repeatedly leaves the tree throughout the story but ends up in a similar happy situation towards the end of the story also, “‘Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.’ And the boy did. And the tree was happy.” Both Mary Had a Little Lamb and The Giving Tree both play a significant role in the literary canon. They both can be crucial factors to the development of children today and their understanding of relationships and being grateful about what they have.



Silverstein, Shel, Shel Silverstein, and Publishers Row. The Giving Tree. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. Print.


“Forgotten Chapters of Boston’s Literary History.” LOWELL MASON, “Mary Lamb” [music], in Juvenile Lyre, Or, Hymns and Songs, Religious, Moral, and Cheerful, Set to Appropriate Music, For the Use of Primary and Common Schools, Boston: Richardson, Lord & Holbrook; Hartford, H. & F. J. Huntington,. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.



Angelica and Julia

“The Little Glutton” in Flowers for Children by Lydia Maria Child depicts a story about Laura, a girl that eats so much, her head starts to ache. She then gets annoyed when her brother comes and pulls on her curls, but she wouldn’t if she didn’t eat so much. The story tells that her kitten, her canary birds, the bees, and the squirrels are more wise than her because they eat enough to stay alive, and productive instead of eating more than they need like she does. The story ends with comparisons like: “I had rather be a bird, even if they shut me up in a cage, than to be a glutton,” to highlight the severity of Laura’s eating problem.

This story reminded me a lot about the character Violet in Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. Violet is one of the golden ticket winners, but also holds the record for chewing the same piece of gum for the longest time in the world. She is a very competitive girl in nature, so when she gets to the factory, she always tries to get everything first. She gets overly excited about a gum that Charlie has been tinkering with that tastes like tomato soup at first, then roast beef, and finally, blueberry pie and ice cream. All the while, Charlie is telling her to spit it out, but Violet insists, and finally she starts to swell up while simultaneously turning purple. She eventually has to be rolled out into the juicing room to get squeezed before blowing up, and then has to leave the factory.


LYDIA MARIA CHILD, “The Little Glutton,” in Flowers for Children, II, New York: C.S. Francis, 1844 (Pages 112-114) http://www.bostonliteraryhistory.com/chapter-4/lydia-maria-child-%E2%80%9C-new-england-boy%E2%80%99s-song-about-thanksgiving-day%E2%80%9D-flowers-children-ii

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Warner Bros, 2005. Film.


Nathaniel Hawthorne [transcribed by Anne Higginson], Description of His Daughter Una

In this manuscript Nathaniel Hawthorne describes his daughter Una. He refers to her actions as “supernatural” contrasts them between “angelic and elfish” (Hawthorne, 1). Hawthorne uses light and dark imagery to reflect her positive and negative characteristics and behaviors. He contrasts her facial features with and without a smile to sunshine versus moonlight. He calls her bold and intelligent as well as ardent and calamitous. Hawthorne says his daughter usually displays the bitterness of an pre-ripened apple. However, he appears in awe of her actions, whether they be circumstances in which he has to punish her behavior or commend it.


Hawthorne’s Description of His Daughter reminds me of the character Maya Hart of the Disney television show Girl Meets World. Maya Hart, played by Sabrina Carpenter, is a middle school student who comes from a single-parent home. She has issues about her father leaving her and her mother when she was little and now having another family. She is the dark horse to her best friend, Riley Matthews, played by Rowen Blanchard, bubbly personality. Maya and Riley often find themselves in situations they are not sure they can handle. However, the situation usually turns into a lesson that helps them grow emotionally. I think Una and Maya have similar personalities. They both seem to be a bit pessimistic about life. But they also appear to want to see the more positive aspects of the world. I think both Maya and Una allow the people close to them to help them see the positive things around them.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Description of His Daughter Una.” Trans. Annie Higginson. Boston Public Library, Rare Books & Manuscript. The Trustees of Boston College, 2012. Web. 6 December 2015. http://www.bostonliteraryhistory.com/chapter-4/nathaniel-hawthorne-transcribed-anne-higginson-description-his-daughter-una


“The Twins” in comparison to “Sister, Sister”

The children’s literature text I read from The Boston Literary History site was “The Twins”, Juvenile Miscellany.  This story is about two twin sisters that are alike in every way.  They both have a cat, a dog and a lamb.  The sisters are young in age and at heart.  They love each other and love life.  During the story, the girls listen to a story being told by their mother and come up with the idea to teach their pet cats to dance.  The attempt was unsuccessful yet the twins did not fall into the mischievousness and disappointment of their plan for entertainment.  They took it light, laughed at the animals and continued their childish play.


In comparison,  I saw similarities from this text in the television show “Sister, Sister” where two twin sisters (teenagers) experience growing pains and disappointments in their lives.  Through these life lessons, they both remain cool, calm and continue to smile, laugh and take light of the situation at hand.

“It made the little girls laugh very much to see a lamb stamp its foot. Mary Jane said, “The lambs, and the kittens and the dogs all act so wild, that we shall never teach them to dance.” Then the girls went into their own little garden, to gather some flowers; and they fastened them in the collars of Snow-ball and Snow-drop; and the little lambs looked very pretty indeed, with the posies round their necks. The dogs and the kittens had a great frolic together; and then they laid down in the sunshine and went to sleep.”
 “The Twins,” Juvenile Miscellany, 1833, Volume 5, Issue 2



Early American: Little Runaways

I read “Little Runaways” which is found on pages 35-44. In the story, Child talks about various children she knew that ran away from home for a temporary time. The first few paragraphs are about girls that were following a distraction, like a dog, and accidentally wandered a little too far to the point that they could not get back. The last story, which I found the most interesting, is about two brothers from Boston that ran away from home just for the fun of it.

Child, Lydia Maria, Joseph H. Francis, B. George Ulizio, and Lydia Maria Child. “Little Runaways.” Flowers for Children. New-York: C.S. Francis &, 252 Broadway, 1844. N. pag. Print.

This story really reminded me of the Pixar’s movie “Inside Out.” (If you haven’t seen it, there will be some spoilers within this post.) I wanted to compare these two stories of children running away because of how differently they are portrayed. In “Little Runaways,” the omniscient narrator emphasizes how much the two little boys were in the wrong for running away: “But these little naughty runaways had no nest, and their good mother was far away from them” (Child 42). The narrator also immensely emphasized the thoughts of the unhappy mother for an entire paragraph: “She cried all night because she had lost her children… She cried as if her heart would break.. How naughty it was in these little boys to disobey their mother, and make her so unhappy” (Child 42). There is a clear binary here of right and wrong when correlating mother and child. However, in the movie “Inside Out,” the entire movie is portrayed entirely from the view of our adolescent protagonist, Riley. During the scene where she runs away, we are able to see the thoughts she forms and how much pain and stress she was feeling at that time, completely dissimilar to the two Boston boys who left their mother for no apparent reason. Running away should not seem like something a child decides, for there has to be a cause. Finally, all Riley needed to do was talk to her parents about what exactly she was feeling and they were able to help.

In the end, both pieces concluded similarly: “(They) never wanted to run away again as long as they lived” (Child 44).


Early American Post: Real Courage

Real courage is about having moral courage. Moral courage is being able to say “no” despite being ridiculed for it. It means your strength of character and principle is stronger than the opinions of others. In this story, there are three brothers (oldest to youngest): Henry, James, and George. Henry urges George to throw a snowball at the school room door and startle everyone. George says no at first, but the instant Henry calls him names to hurt his pride, “‘Why George, are you turning coward? I thought you did not fear anything. We shall have to call you chicken- hearted,'” George agrees and throws the snowball. George is subsequently punished for his actions, which shows real courage is withstanding petty comments and holding true to your beliefs even if it is for something silly such as not throwing a snowball.

One contemporary children’s show this relates to is “The Proud Family.” The main character, Penny Proud, is a 12 year old girl that often finds herself in sticky situations. As a teenager, she sometimes caves into peer pressure to uphold her image. Her friends push her to do things she knows is not right.  For example, one time she lies to her parents and sneaks into a teen nightclub against her parent’s order. She gets caught and is grounded. This is similar to George who falls under peer pressure by his brother and throws a snowball despite knowing he will get into trouble for it.


Abbots, Messrs. “Real Courage.” Forgotten Chapters of Boston’s Literary History. MESSRS. ABBOTT, Mount Vernon Reader, a Course of Reading Lessons, New York: Collins, Keese & Co., 1841. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2015


Early American- “Lucy’s Studies”

In chapter 11 of “Lucy’s Studies”, titled “A Conversation”, we follow Lucy speaking to Mary Jay about what she should focus on while studying. After Mary Jay suggests that Lucy speak to her mother, Lucy’s cousin, Royal, ends up bringing Mary Jay to Lucy’s home to speak to her parents herself. Lucy’s father explains that he prefers that Lucy, as a young child, should focus on arithmetic and reading/writing because they’re simple subjects, as opposed to something such as history or geography, which he says would be hard for a child to comprehend.


When reading this text, I instantly thought of the PBS cartoon “Liberty’s Kids”, which I watched avidly as a child. It follows three children who live through the Revolutionary War and interact with the founding fathers. Whereas Lucy’s father argues that a child cannot grasp history because “she cannot have any adequate idea of the truth, because the elements of it are beyond her capacity.” (Abbott 138), the protagonists of “Liberty’s Kids” deal with everything from the treason of Benedict Arnold to the injustice of slavery. He does not believe that a child could understand things like war and rebellion while the latter creates fictional characters to relate to children and going to lengths to make history easily understandable to young children like Lucy. At the end of the chapter, when Lucy tells her father that a duck’s feet wouldn’t make good rudders because they would crash on the ground, she demonstrates her capacity for critical thinking. Lucy proves that a child really could grasp difficult concepts, but in their own simple way.


Abbott, Jacob. “A Conversation.” Cousin Lucy at Study. Boston: B.B. Mussey, 1842. Print.


Early America Vs. Progressive America

“The Story of Alice Green” (1829) written by Samuel Goodrich starts in Norwich, Connecticut. It involves a little girl who lives with her aunt and must find a way to travel to her father in Boston. She must reach Boston as soon as possible so that her and her father may be able to sail to England. The little girl’s aunt enlists the help of a Native American, Uncas, to carry Alice from Connecticut to Boston during the long, cold winter.  On the five day journey to Boston, Alice and Uncas face terrible conditions. However, Uncas is able to protect Alice from the cold weather. At the end of the story, Alice remembers “the fidelity of the kind hearted Indian” and spends the rest of her days in England (Goodrich, Page 16). The story is narrated by a third party and his language implies that he is speaking to young children; almost  

It struck me as odd that the narrator who tells the story of Alice Green often refers to Uncas as “the Indian” (even though he is a Native American). For example, he calls Uncas “the strong Indian”, “the hardy Indian”, “the watchful Indian” and other things (Goodrich, Page 10,12,14). However, Alice is always called by her name. It also struck me as odd that the story is named after Alice Green when in fact, the real protagonist is Uncas. In a way, by not calling Uncas by his real name and focusing on Alice’s feelings, the narrator redirects me, the reader, away from Uncas difficult labor.

This contrast greatly to some children’s media that exist today. One specific example of this is the TV show “Dora the Explorer” (2000). The show “Dora the Explorer” revolves around a young girl of spanish descent who explores different places, some even fantastical that involve pirates and mermaids. This contrast to the “Story of Alice Green” which is rooted in a very real and historical town in Connecticut and involves a real Native American tribe.  Dora usually narrates the show herself and often asks her viewers to participate as she problem solves. This is very different from Alice who relies on the help of Uncas to get to her father. Dora is an example of a modern progressive American children’s “text”. The heroine is not of European descent, but instead speaks to the minority American group. The involvement of the children viewers in her problem solving can help them build their own methods of problem solving instead of being force fed a narrative.


Works Cited

Goodrich, Samuel G. The Story of Alice Green: One of Peter Parley’s Winter Evening Tales. Boston: S.G. Goodrich, 1829. Boston Literary History. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://www.bostonliteraryhistory.com/chapter-4/samuel-griswold-goodrich-story-alice-green-one-peter-parley%E2%80%99s-winter-evening-tales-boston>


Spongebob Squarepants Vs. Little Bird Little Bird

I chose to read “Little Bird! Little Bird!” from the Flowers for Children Series by Lydia Maria Child. The story begins with someone preparing a nice home for a bird and inviting it to come live there. This person promises to bring flowers, feed, and take care of the bird if it comes to live in the cage. The bird however, politely declines the offer. It says this because it prefers to live in nature, where it can roam freely in the air, and live in a comfortable nest. Then the person asks the bird what will it do during the winter time. The bird responds by saying that it will migrate to a land that has green fields and warm skies until the winter passes, and then it will return.
This story was created to teach children the living environment of another animal. A contemporary cartoon that teaches this lesson to kids is the TV show Spongebob Squarepants through the character of Sandy the squirrel. Just like the bird, Sandy lives in an area where other species of animals live in. However, she has her own home that’s different from the other animals. Sandy lives in a dome in the middle of the ocean that preserves the air, the land and the temperature of the environment, making it a perfect environment for a squirrel. Another common idea that both stories share is teaching kids what happens to certain animals during the winter time. For “Little Bird! Little Bird”, the bird migrates to a different location until the winter time has passed. For the Spongebob TV show, it teaches kids that squirrels hibernate by eating extra food to store body fat and sleeping during the winter.

Word Cited: Child, Lydia Maria. “Little Bird! Little bird!” Flowers for Children. Boston: C.S. Francis &, 1854. Print.


Lucy’s Visit / High School Musical 2


I chose Lucy’s Visit in the Rollo at Play section. The text talks about the day Rollo and Lucy spent together. In it Rollo learns various lessons about complaining. Due to bad weather, the trip up the mountain to get blueberries was cancelled. Rollo refused to believe it was going to rain and still insisted on going. He constantly complained about the rain and not being able to go out. His father opted to teach him a lesson because him sulking about things out of their control, was ruining the mood of the others. After his punishment and apologizing Rollo goes back to play with Lucy. This time they’ve both become bored with the ideas they came up with for fun. Rollo’s mom suggest doing something as a duty that will in tame cause the disappointment about the pleasure they seek to fade. Initially they struggled to do this, not being able to read properly because they weren’t enjoying what they were doing.


This reminds me of a scene from the Disney Movie Highschool Musical 2. Troy, one of the main characters got all of the wildcats a summer job. They all agreed thinking it would be a fun summer together. Once there, they began getting a bunch of orders, and getting in trouble for minor things. The job is not as fun as they expected, they all began to complain. But Troy, convinces them that working will be fun and they’re all in it together. Here’s a link to a clip below:

High School Musical 2 Work This Out Scene
In both cases, the characters are struggling with the idea of duty and pleasure. They change their attitudes to suit their circumstances and make the best of it.


High School Musical 2. Dir. Kenny Ortega. Perf. Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Corbin Bleu. 2007. Web.

Abbott, Jacob. “JACOB ABBOTT, Rollo at Play, Or, Safe Amusements, Boston: Thomas H. Webb & Co., 1838.” N.p.: n.p., n.d. 66-95. Web. 19 Oct. 2015. <http://www.bostonliteraryhistory.com/chapter-4/jacob-abbott-rollo-play-or-safe-amusements-boston-thomas-h-webb-co-1838>.