Read Kunhan Helen tulee by Mary Downing Hahn Free Online
Book Title: Kunhan Helen tulee|
The author of the book: Mary Downing Hahn
Date of issue: 1989
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 534 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.5
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as part of my personal reading challenges for 2017, once a month i will be revisiting a favorite book from when i was a little bitty karen and seeing if it holds up to my fond memories and determining if i can still enjoy it as an old and crotchety karen.
so: first things first. in answer to the question 'does this book hold up?' it does. i mean, i read this book countless times in my childhood, so the plot is still emblazoned on my brain and the tension of "what will happen next???" was obviously not a factor, but the risk of revisiting childhood favorites is that instead of giving feelings of sweet nostalgic warmth to the adult reader, the book will instead cause some harsh self-scrutiny along the lines of 'how did i ever like such garbage?'
this is a good story. it is spooky and mysterious and it has a mean ghost. i hated the part (view spoiler)[where helen ripped up all of molly's books and smashed her glass unicorns (hide spoiler)] and i think heather should have been punished more because she was such a brat the whole time.
the adult-review of this is more critical, and more focused on one particular element: terrible parenting. there will probably also be spoilers.
reading this as a kid, the adult characters were inessential. they had no purpose other than as representations of the unfairness of the world: they don't believe that the ghost is real, or that heather is a manipulative little monster, and the children suffer because of their unwillingness to listen/believe.
but adult-me is horrified with how irresponsible these people are!
if you recall, molly (12) and michael (10) are siblings whose mother jean has just remarried a man named dave who has a seven-year-old daughter named heather. heather's mother died in a fire when she was three and she (they?) had been living with her grandmother until this union brought everyone under one roof in baltimore. suddenly, jean announces that in three months, the whole brood will be moving to the country, into a renovated church with space for jean to paint and dave to have a pottery workshop.
so, in the throes of newlywed bliss and arts n' crafts mania, they pick up stakes and move to the middle of nowhere, despite both children having made wholesome, academic plans for their summer - molly taking an enrichment program in creative writing and michael signed up for the science club. and what do they get to do in the middle of nowhere instead of broadening their minds?? babysit. babysit a little brat who hates the children, their mother, suddenly having to share a room, and everything about her life except the creepy little ghost who totally gets her.
but surely jean will notice when things start going wrong, right? nope!
She has a maddening habit of drifting away into her private dream world just when you need her most.
not a good quality in a mommy.
so these hippies get to do as they please - he in the carriage house, she in the choir loft, isolating themselves from the goings-on of their children and unconcerned with what they could be getting into: exploring their own backyard graveyard where old caretaker-man tells them tales of dead children, running around the burned-out shell of an abandoned house where there is evidence of beer bottles and other teenage mischief and no place for little kids, riding their bikes miles away to "town," which may not be balmer but in a time before cellphones and bike helmets, they should probably be supervised their first time out, right?
not here, in this summer of neglect and free childcare! the children immediately take a backseat to the artistic pursuits of the people who should be acclimating everyone into their new living arrangements:
That evening, after Dave's friends left, we had our first dinner in the church. Mom and Dave did most of the talking; they didn't make much of an effort to involve us in the plans they were making for their art projects.
molly is particularly entrusted with the care and maintenance of heather, despite heather's vehemently expressed hatred of her.
"I've got a lot to do, Molly. As soon as you finish eating, please go out and keep an eye on Heather. I don't want her wandering off."
"Can't I stay in and help you?"
She patted my shoulder. "The nicest thing you can do for me is to look after Heather."
"You know, though, Molly, that Dave and I count on you and Michael to take care of Heather. It's up to you to make sure she doesn't run wild in the woods all day."
and, most selfishly:
"We moved here so Dave and I would have time to work without worrying about you all…Go on, now, and find something to do. I've got to get back to my painting."
priorities very clear, there.
and all this time, heather is a malignant little creature trying to start fights and get her stepsiblings into trouble, quite successfully. the adults frequently refer to her as "unhappy," and "disturbed," and "sensitive," but no one seems to want to do anything about this. despite her screaming nightmares, constant lies and threats, and outbursts where she says she hates everybody and wants her own dead mother back, no one's working towards making this kid any better.
"You know perfectly well what Dave thinks of shrinks, Michael. I heard him tell Mom that all they do is mess up your head."
instead, the solution is to leave heather in the care of children she hates. and dave's kind of a dick. he's condescending to molly's fears of the graveyard on their property:
You've been fretting about that graveyard ever since we moved in here. It doesn't bother anybody else, so forget it, okay?"
he calls them "little monsters," and yells at them both, frequently, for things heather has lied about them doing, and even grabs michael by the neck of his t-shirt, while screaming at him. and yet… at one point, molly and michael ride their bikes to the library, leaving heather with her father in his studio. when they return - drama:
"You were supposed to be here watching Heather."
"We couldn't find any of you! We called and called. Finally I found Heather way down on the other side of the creek near that ruin you told your mother about."
which just means that he was too caught up in his pot(s) to notice when his young daughter left his side and wandered off into danger. bad daddy!
and yet a few days after this, it's as though all fears of unattended children are forgotten. while molly and michael are outside, the adults both go off shopping in baltimore, leaving heather alone in the house watching t.v., and via note, instructing them to watch her, naturally, and also stating that heather promised to stay indoors until they got back. which she doesn't. naturally. and she has wandered off into some serious trouble.
it's just a pattern of bad decisions and carelessness and expecting pre-teens to become guardians to a little girl who hates them. and i know it's silly to judge a children's book so harshly for its absentee parenthood, since the whole point is that the children are on their own against supernatural forces and the lesson is about manning up and standing on your own and being a hero when the world has left you to fight your own battles, but it's just something that struck me in my adult reading that never even occurred to me as a babe, so i guess i just ran with it. oops.
but come on! after helen destroys all of jean's paintings:
Mom fell against Dave, too upset to speak. He put his arms around her and stroked her hair as if she were a child, letting her tears soak his shirt.
Heather hovered near her father, obviously displeased by the attention he was giving Mom.
"Don't cry, Jean, don't cry," Dave whispered. "If I can't fix the easel, I'll get you another one."
"But we can't afford it," Mom sobbed. "We were counting on the sale of my paintings to get through the winter. Now they're ruined. How will we pay the mortgage? How will we heat the house?"
if you are one easel away from bankruptcy, you have no business packing up your kids to the middle of nowhere in order to become artists, for goodness' sake. stay in baltimore where there are proper jobs, do right by your children and don't risk them starving or freezing to death because you think you're gonna live off of paintings of barns and lopsided bowls.
better adulting, please!
also, i don't know if i mentioned that i would be reading my actual childhood copies of these books, found and snatched from my dad's place when he was moving a couple years back.
look how cheap books were!
and look how cute i was with my bookplate-having self (also noteworthy to those of you whose hobby is forging other people's childhood signatures)
and lo - this is how the ancients kept track of the books they read. these hieroglyphs tell us that at one point i had not read the jellyfish season, and then, later... i did. it's important to keep records up to date.
FEBRUARY: the little gymnast
APRIL: something queer at the library
MAY: good-bye pink pig
JUNE: the girl with the silver eyes
JULY: the phantom tollbooth
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Read information about the authorI grew up in a small shingled house down at the end of Guilford Road in College Park, Maryland. Our block was loaded with kids my age. We spent hours outdoors playing "Kick the Can" and "Mother, May I" as well as cowboy and outlaw games that usually ended in quarrels about who shot whom. In the summer, we went on day long expeditions into forbidden territory -- the woods on the other side of the train tracks, the creek that wound its way through College Park, and the experimental farm run by the University of Maryland.
In elementary school, I was known as the class artist. I loved to read and draw but I hated writing reports. Requirements such as outlines, perfect penmanship, and following directions killed my interest in putting words on paper. All those facts -- who cared what the principal products of Chile were? To me, writing reports was almost as boring as math.
Despite my dislike of writing, I loved to make up stories. Instead of telling them in words, I told them in pictures. My stories were usually about orphans who ran away and had the sort of exciting adventures I would have enjoyed if my mother hadn't always interfered.
When I was in junior high school, I developed an interest in more complex stories. I wanted to show how people felt, what they thought, what they said. For this, I needed words. Although I wasn't sure I was smart enough, I decided to write and illustrate children's books when I grew up. Consequently, at the age of thirteen, I began my first book. Small Town Life was about a girl named Susan, as tall and skinny and freckle faced as I was. Unlike her shy, self conscious creator, however, Susan was a leader who lived the life I wanted to live -- my ideal self, in other words. Although I never finished Small Town Life, it marked the start of a lifelong interest in writing.
In high school, I kept a diary. In college, I wrote poetry and short stories and dreamed of being published in The New Yorker. Unfortunately, I didn't have the courage or the confidence to send anything there.
By the time my first novel was published, I was 41 years old. That's how long it took me to get serious about writing. The Sara Summer took me a year to write, another year to find a publisher, and yet another year of revisions before Clarion accepted it.
Since Sara appeared in 1979, I've written an average of one book a year. If I have a plot firmly in mind when I begin, the writing goes fairly quickly. More typically, I start with a character or a situation and only a vague idea of what's going to happen. Therefore, I spend a lot of time revising and thinking things out. If I'd paid more attention to the craft of outlining back in elementary school, I might be a faster writer, but, on the other hand, if I knew everything that was going to happen in a story, I might be too bored to write it down. Writing is a journey of discovery. That's what makes it so exciting.
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