That’s me, destroying childhood memories one sarcastic remark at a time.
For example, the Adventures of Little Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik. I don’t believe Little Bear’s little fantasy for even one second. In the first book, there’s no mention of Father Bear at all. Then in the first story of the second book, we get this:
“Hello, Owl,” said Little Bear. “Father Bear is not home. He is fishing on the ocean.”
Sounds plausible, right? Well, in the next story, we get the following exchange:
“Father Bear is coming home today.”
“Is he?” said Hen. “Where was he?”
“Fishing,” said Little Bear, “out on the ocean. Far out on the ocean.”
Hmm, we wonder. And then we look at the rest of the facts, and it just doesn’t add up. So the next time my Patient Husband reads the story to the kids, he reads Hen’s line, “Where was he?” and I reply, “In the slammer.”
Think about it: He’s been gone for what, months? Father Bear is shown wearing a three-piece suit, not jeans, not a pea-jacket. Fishermen should come home with, I dunno, maybe fish? Except he doesn’t. They don’t even seemto eat fish. Moreover: he never goes fishing again. He just hangs around, reading the newspaper and dispensing wisdom to Little Bear.
And when he comes home, he gives Little Bear and his friends, as presents, sea shells. Because when you’re deep-sea fishing, you find sea shells…? Or when your trawler is docked…?
Something’s fishy here, and it’s not Father Bear’s boat.
So I assert Father Bear was away from home doing time for white-collar crime, and no one wanted to break Little Bear’s heart by telling him the horrid truth. One night, Little Bear must have overheard someone saying his pop was up the river, and he assumed that meant his father was fishing.
Pay attention the next time you read it to your kids. I bet you’ll agree.