Words on Words: A literary form of scurvy

4 mins read

There has been a steady stream lately of authorized sequels to children’s classics. There are two basic rationales for doing this, the medical condition rationale, and the relief of intense pain rationale.

The news that the estate of A.A. Milne had authorized the first new Winnie the Pooh novel in 80 years is an an example of the medical condition rationale. The idea here is that new generations of readers require fresh versions of classic books just the way sailors require fresh green vegetables. Reading the original books will no more prevent this nameless medical condition from developing in a new generation of readers than eating nothing but ship’s hard tack and weevils will prevent scurvy in sailors. Return to the Hundred Acre Wood will be released in October.

This Thursday the announcement was made that author Hilary McKay has produced a sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic, A Little Princess, called Wishing For Tomorrow, which will be released in January. The rationale here is relief from suffering.

McKay “was plagued by the lingering questions she had about Sara’s friends, who are left behind when the heroine drives away at the end of A Little Princess.” I know how she feels because I feel the same way about the end of The Lord of the Rings. What happened to Frodo after he got to the Lost Isle, Eressea? Did he get to hang out with the Valar? How did Galadriel spend her days? I can’t stand it I tell you!!

But I digress. McKay’s editor revealed that “Hilary has brought us back to all of our old friends from A Little Princess and given them a fuller, rounder portrayal.” At first I thought how dreadful, I hadn’t noticed that Ermengarde, Lottie and Lavinia had been undernourished in A Little Princess. Then I realized that I was being dense, this had nothing to do with calorie intake, but rather that these characters were now to receive the filling out a more modern sensibility would provide, and which they so desperately were wanting.

Once we recognize that these sequels are a response to acute medical conditions, and personal distress, we should not leave the work to others, but rather rally round and help identify other books that need to be written. Here are some that came to me:

Five More Children and It
The Secret Garden Blooms Again
More Wind in the Willows
Harriet Spies Again
Frodo In Valinor
Strawberries For Sal
After The Last Battle (The Second Chronicles of Narnia Book 1)

I also received these suggestions from a correspondent:

Our Trip Back to Prairie Creek
The Sixth Little Pepper.
Mr. Popper’s New Set of Penguins
Frog and Toad and Salamander
How the Grinch Stole Easter
Hitty: Her Second Hundred Years

So help us out here! First off, bonus points to the first person who recognizes the one title above which is real and has already been done. Secondly, don’t shirk your duty. Leave us us your suggestions in the comment area below.

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