Advice to Little Girls

Advice to Little Girls

by Mark Twain, Vladimir Radunsky
     
 

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You should ever bear in mind that it is to your kind parents that you are indebted for your food, and for the privilege of staying home from school when you let on that you are sick. Therefore you ought to respect their little prejudices, and humor their little whims, and put up with their little foibles until they get to crowding you too much.

When Mark

Overview

You should ever bear in mind that it is to your kind parents that you are indebted for your food, and for the privilege of staying home from school when you let on that you are sick. Therefore you ought to respect their little prejudices, and humor their little whims, and put up with their little foibles until they get to crowding you too much.

When Mark Twain wrote the sparky short story "Advice to Little Girls" in 1865, he probably didn't mean for it to be shown to them. Or maybe he did, since we all know Twain was a rascal. Now, author and illustrator Vladimir Radunsky has created a picture book based on Twain's text that adds all the right outlandish touches.

Born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, Samuel L. Clemens wrote under the pen name Mark Twain. He wrote two major classics of American literature, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was also a riverboat pilot, journalist, lecturer, entrepreneur, and inventor. Whether or not it was Mark Twain's actual intention for little girls to read this humorous short story, it's clear that he did not talk down to children, but rather expected them to stretch themselves in order to grasp sophisticated, adult meaning.

Vladimir Radunsky has illustrated many books to great acclaim. Recently, Radunsky has been moving farther and farther away from the traditional picture book and into other more innovative forms. The most recent example is a work published by HarperCollins of hip-hop poetry for children, where the graffiti art has migrated from the walls into a printed book. Radunsky has published more than thirty books for children, mostly in the United States. Many of them were translated and published in France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, and Japan.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Radunsky’s (You?) ink flourishes and adorable, lumpy figures steal the stage from Twain’s essay, printed in a typewritten font and clipped to the pages like notes. The essay parodies the etiquette books of Twain’s time, counseling deviousness over savagery. “If you have nothing but a rag-doll... while one of your more fortunate little playmates has a costly China one, you should treat her with a show of kindness nevertheless.” Radunsky’s paintings don’t portray the tension between thought and deed; they’re all id. The rag-doll owner heaves her doll high above her head, ready to smash it over the head of the other girl (“And you ought not to attempt to make a forcible swap with her unless your conscience would justify you in it”). Another girl puts a furious pink tongue out at a large-bosomed matron, who responds in kind. Scribbly ink figures litter the margins of the golden pages; period costumes offer the only note of social restraint. It’s less readaloud than objet d’art, but the descendants of the girls to whom the essay was originally addressed will recognize themselves. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

Brain Pickings' Top 13 Children's, Illustrated, and Picture Books of 2013

"Crisply satirical and a little subversive, Twain's short, acerbic sendup slyly exhorts little girls to take a calculating approach to manipulating friends, brothers and elders. [...] An elegant curiosity for admirers of Twain, Radunsky or both." -- Kirkus Review

"Radunsky's ink flourishes and adorable, lumpy figures steal the stage." -- Publishers Weekly

“Twain did not squat down to be heard and understood by children, but asked them to stand on their tiptoes—to absorb the kind of language and humor suitable for adults.” – New York Review of Books

“While frolicsome in tone and full of wink, the story — like the most timeless of children’s books — is colored with subtle hues of grown-up philosophy on the human condition, exploring all the deft ways in which we creatively rationalize our wrongdoing and reconcile the good and evil we each embody.” – Brain Pickings

 “it is sharp, a pointed set of admonitions urging girls to think for themselves, which is a message as essential today as it was a century-and-a-half ago.” – The Los Angeles Times

“a sharp, charming story suitable for smart girls (and grown ups!) everywhere, and Radunsky’s illustrations bring it to scribbled, red-cheeked life. It may just be the best picture book we’ve ever read.” – Flavorwire

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Vladimir Radunsky has taken eight quotations from Mark Twain offering advice to little girls and illustrated images of people drawn with a scratchy steel pen and given water colored features and period clothes to accompany the text. The style is cartoon-y and humorous. The advice given is timeless: from not "making mouths at their teachers" and not taking your little brother's chewing gum by force, to respecting your parents and not sassing old people. Twain's tongue is surely in his cheek, however, since in each case there is a sly way around the advice, like not sassing unless they sass you first. When you "find it necessary to correct your brother," you must never throw mud at him. "It is better to scald him a little..." The vocabulary is sometimes a stretch. The binding is handsome and the end pages worth noting. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
12/01/2013
Gr 5 Up—The audience for this title will be older than the typical picture-book crowd though the text and format appear to be directed at young children. The vocabulary and content will not be easily understood or appreciated by today's youngsters. Each of Twain's seven directives, originally written in 1867, starts by explaining how to behave correctly and then makes a tongue-in-cheek about-face. For example, "If at any time you find it necessary to correct your brother, do not correct him with mud…. It is better to scald him a little, for then you obtain desirable results." On one page, a crossed-out illustration shows a girl throwing mud at her brother's white clothing, and the following page reveals her pouring scalding water from a teapot onto his head, while smiling. The pictures look like they were outlined using a quill pen and ink with all the typical splotches and dribbles that accompanied that instrument. The words for each "instruction" look like they were typed on an old typewriter on rectangular pieces of paper and glued onto the gold pages. Florence Parry Heide's Tales for the Perfect Child (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1985) also instructs children on how to get their way, but in a gentler manner to which readers can relate.—Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI
Kirkus Reviews
Crisply satirical and a little subversive, Twain's short, acerbic sendup slyly exhorts little girls to take a calculating approach to manipulating friends, brothers and elders. Originally published in 1867 as a sketch in his collection The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories, Twain's advice acknowledges the not-all-sugar-and-spice nature of girls (thereby skewering the gender-driven double standard of his time) by suggesting expedient alternatives for getting what they want: "You ought never to take your little brother's ‘chewing-gum' away from him by main force; it is better to rope him in with the promise of the first two dollars and a half you find floating down the river on a grindstone." Radunsky's mixed-media illustrations incorporate 19th-century clothing, attractive calligraphy and scribbled, blotchy ink sketches to evoke both the period and the disarming playfulness behind Twain's excoriation of manners. The intended audience for this handsomely designed clothbound edition is unclear, as the humorist's irony will evade most young children and a fair number of adults. Those who do get it will relish it. An elegant curiosity for admirers of Twain, Radunsky or both. (Picture book. 6 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592701292
Publisher:
Enchanted Lion Books
Publication date:
04/02/2013
Pages:
24
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
6 - 12 Years

Meet the Author


Vladimir Radunsky has illustrated many wonderful books, including The Maestro Plays by Bill Martin Jr and Woody Guthrie's Howdi Do. He is also the author-illustrator of 10 (ten), The Mighty Asparagus, and (with Chris Raschka) of Table Manners.

Born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, Samuel L. Clemens wrote under the pen name Mark Twain and went on to pen several novels, including two major classics of American literature, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was also a riverboat pilot, journalist, lecturer, entrepreneur and inventor. It is unknown whether it was Mark Twain's actual intention for little girls to read this humorous short story published in 1867. What is clear is that he did not talk down to children, but rather expected them to stretch themselves in order to grasp sophisticated and perhaps even adult meanings.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
November 30, 1835
Date of Death:
April 21, 1910
Place of Birth:
Florida, Missouri
Place of Death:
Redding, Connecticut

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