Only Time Will Tell

Does this book look familiar to you? It is one that my children, now aged 26 and 27, really enjoyed, and I held on to it for them. Our copy was a Golden Book, and it was so worn that the front cover fell off, but they still loved it.

When my sister had kids, I went through the books I had saved and gave her some, admonishing her that I would need them back should I ever have grandchildren. Which, as you have noticed, I have. One of whom is currently obsessed with monsters.

So…my sister talked to her kids about giving their books about monsters up for RJ. They were willing to give up the MONSTERS, INC., book, but it took some convincing for five-year-old Jane to give THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK up. The boys, of course, being older, were cool about it. This is the way they convinced her. They told her that the book was really old.

OLD?? I guess it is. I told you how old my kids are. But it doesn’t seem like that long ago that they were enjoying this book.

With great pomp and circumstance and an exaggeratedly sad look on her face, Jane brought me the book yesterday. I thanked her for passing it on to RJ. She nodded gravely and said, “I didn’t really want to, Aunt Becky, but it is really old.”

I guess it is. The book she handed me was published in 1971, seven years before my son was born. That makes it 35 years old, almost two generations worth. I wonder if that makes it a classic?

Charles Augustin-Sainte Beuve says a classic, the way he would see it described, is this:

…an author who has enriched the human mind, increased its treasure, and caused it to advance a step; who has discovered some moral and not equivocal truth, or revealed some eternal passion in that heart where all seemed known and discovered; who has expressed his thought, observation, or invention, in no matter what form, only provided it be broad and great, refined and sensible, sane and beautiful in itself; who has spoken to all in his own peculiar style, a style which is found to be also that of the whole world, a style new without neologism, new and old, easily contemporary with all time.

That’s pretty wordy for a kids’ book, I know. Who knows if Grover will stand the test of time? Sesame Street started in 1969, but its almost 40 years are a drop in the bucket time-wise. THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK has met one criterion of the above definition, at least. It has “…discovered some moral and not equivocal truth,” that being that what we are afraid is often not scary at all.

Let’s see if it will meet the other criteria. Only time will tell.

The picture above came from this website. You can buy A MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK here.


1 Response to “Only Time Will Tell”

  1. 1 Carol July 13, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    I read that book to my kids when they were younger too. Did you ever read Love You Forever to your kids? I wrote a post on it a couple of weeks ago.


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