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Old 02-21-2013, 03:41 AM
 
1,024 posts, read 983,619 times
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He is saving face when he says it is about pets as he said the second book would be about the adventures of their bio son with their "big, big brother." I am glad he is accepting feedback, however.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizita View Post
I don't have that much of a problem with the "foster child" being a troll, per se. To me trolls don't have a negative connotation. I've always thought they were cute.
I LOVE folklore & actually collected hand-made wooden trolls growing up -- but I still find it offensive to portray adoptees as trolls. No matter how fond you are of the creatures you must be aware that they generally have negative connotations, yes? Being ugly, mean, stupid, stealing/eating children. Even if they are not always depicted this way, they are usually depicted this way.

To be a minority that is dehumanized in any way is offensive, really.

Quote:
The problem I'm having is with the troll's role and purpose in the family. I would have had the same problem if Narg wasn't a troll but was an actual child they had been asked to care for. Actually I would probably have more of a problem with that. The story tells us that Narg's purpose is to take his foster parents' minds off things which helps them conceive but they let him stay anyway even though they have the real thing. Insinuating, purposely or not, that that's the role of an adoptee or foster child could be quite damaging to a young child living in a non-biological family. The problem would be the same even if Narg was a unicorn or a monkey. I also take issue with the fact that the book is described as a book about adoption and is intended to target fostered and adopted kids. I hope the authors will understand this too and not get caught up on the fact that Narg is a troll.
I agree but he should change both issues -- that's why I liked Craig's idea of making him a guardian for the child, or an honorary uncle instead of a sibling they are fostering/adopting.

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 02-21-2013 at 03:49 AM..
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:47 AM
 
1,024 posts, read 983,619 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susankate View Post
Nicely said, Craig (especially bolded bit)

Btw comments are now available on his site (although they are all from his supporters):

The Family Troll, Picture book by Tyler Kirkham — Kickstarter

(see up top)

Btw he does have a name - Narg.
You can only comment if you are willing to give him money for the project -- so of course they will all be supporters. But you can still reach him through his personal website. That seems like the best way so far.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:17 AM
 
10,365 posts, read 8,345,914 times
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It's good to learn that the writer and illustrator of this book are receptive to comments and open to criticism. About my "review" concerning both text and illustrations: when dealing with children's picture books (or in this case, a graphic novel as the creators describe it), the pictures carry at least 50% of the message/story/plot of the book. So it's not really possible to separate text and illustrations when critically examining a children's picture book. This is not the case with books for older children, in which fewer illustrations appear and the text is proportionally more important.

BTW, I had the feeling I'd encountered a rather similar story somewhere long ago - and I was right. It's "The Lost Merbaby", by Margaret and Mary Baker, one of the stories in the fabulous, beautifully illustrated by Garth Williams and edited by Jane Werner anthology, "The Giant Golden Book of Elves and Fairies", a book I cherished as a child and still own.

The story features a mermaid baby who is carried away by the wind and tides and is found by a fisherman "at the foot of the cliffs". He takes the little one home to his wife - neither the fisherman nor his wife wanted children before, but they are delighted, the wife saying "How it laughs and crows! Look! Its eyes are the color of the sea, and what a dear little tail it has! It is nearly as beautiful as a real baby". (italics mine)

Meanwhile, the little one is greatly missed by the little-girl mermaids who are her original family (the exact relationship between the little girl mermaids and the baby is not defined), and they ask all of the beneath-the-sea denizens if they've seen their baby. Finally, the seagulls tell them that their baby is now with the fisherman and his wife, which distresses the little mermaids greatly.

A storm arises, and the merbaby cannot be comforted - she wails pitifully, because she knows it is not only the storm and the moaning of the sea, but the sound of the mermaids weeping. After the storm, the fisherman's wife shows off the merbaby to her neighbors, who are very doubtful about her prospects "A tail will be very awkward when she grows up. Why don't you put her back in the sea?" Of course, the fisherman's wife refuses, as it would be cruel to leave such a tiny baby to her own devices and by now, she has come to love the merbaby greatly.

But the little mermaids continue to grieve for their lost baby, and when the merbaby hears their weeping, she, too, will not be comforted.

At last the fisherman's wife realizes that what she is hearing is not just the moaning of the sea, but the sound of the weeping of those who have lost the merbaby, so she takes the merbaby to the shore, where the mermaids are weeping, and kissing the baby, sadly returns her to them. But when she returns to her cottage, she sees the empty cradle and "weeps as sadly as ever the little mermaids had done". "It is my turn to sorrow now", said she."

But - the little mermaids take pity on the grief of the fisherman (who has wept as sorely as his wife) and his wife, and realize that "only the fisherman and his wife know how to love her as we do, and now they are sorrowful because we have taken her back". So sometimes they swim to the little bay overlooked by the fisherman and his wife's cottage, and call, "...and the fisherman's wife would hear them and come running. The mermaids would give her the baby, and she would sit on the rocks to play with it..."

But one day, when the mermaids swim to the bay, the fisherman's wife doesn't come in response to their calls. They are concerned that something is amiss, so ask the seagulls to investigate. The seagulls return, and tell them they need not sorrow longer for the loneliness of the fisherman's wife, for there is a new baby in the cradle, with feet instead of a tail and eyes the color of the sky. The fisherman and his wife have not heard the mermaids' call "because they are too happy to hear anything but their own joy".

So the little mermaids swam home to their undersea hollow among the rocks, and said, "Now we can be happy all day long, for there is no one left lonely and sorrowing. And some day we will go again to the bay and the fisherman's wife will show us her baby and we will love it next to our own".

Lots of parallels here, it seems to me. There are probably other stories of an "alien" child being found and raised by others - it has a very archetypal ring to it, in fact, and of course historically children have been raised by those who were not their biological families since the beginning of time, in one way or another. It's only in modern times that such arrangements have been formalized into adoption.

Obviously I cannot say if the creators of the troll book have read "The Lost Merbaby" or perhaps similar stories, but their story certainly falls into the same archetypal category.

I am not going into criticizing the concepts of "The Lost Merbaby", but it never occurred to me that it could be a parable or was analogous to adoption when I first read it as a child -and I had adopted relatives near my own age to whom I was close and was familiar with adoption.

I can say that the artwork is very lovely and the writing is skilled as far as effective storytelling is concerned, and that the story is presented as a fairytale and does not appear to have been written as anything else or with any intention of serving any other purpose. Characterization is shallow, but this can be typical of literary stories written in the fairy tale manner. There is considerable humor in the depiction of the other residents of the undersea world, all of whom think the merbaby would be prettier if she resembled their own children more closely. The themes of love, loss, sorrow, and redemption occur throughout the story, and are handled forthrightly but sensitively, in a manner understandable by children.

Last edited by CraigCreek; 02-21-2013 at 11:34 AM..
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:31 AM
 
1,024 posts, read 983,619 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
I am not going into criticizing the concepts of "The Lost Merbaby", but it never occurred to me that it could be a parable or was analogous to adoption when I first read it as a child -and I had adopted relatives near my own age to whom I was close and was familiar with adoption.
I definitely interpreted this as a story about adoption, as I interpreted lots of children's stories to be about adoption. Whenever a child was raised by parents they were not biologically related to, I would identify with that character.

This story is sad as it only highlights that children people think they would "love unconditionally" as their own are actually quite replaceable.

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 02-21-2013 at 10:52 AM..
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:30 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethreefoldme View Post
I definitely interpreted this as a story about adoption, as I interpreted lots of children's stories to be about adoption. Whenever a child was raised by parents they were not biologically related to, I would identify with that character.

This story is sad as it only highlights that children people think they would "love unconditionally" as their own are actually quite replaceable.
But it's also a story about reunification: the lost merbaby is returned, to the great joy of her grieving original family, while the human couple who also love and miss her sorely will continue to see her from time to time, and will later bring their own biological baby to visit with the mermaids.

There are some unexplored aspects of the story which totally escaped me as a child: the little mermaids are children themselves, love the merbaby "dearly" but think that "she is rather a nuisance sometime", and it is their carelessness and poor judgment (to which I didn't refer in my synopsis) which lead to the merbaby's becoming lost initially. There is no mention of the biological parents of the merbaby, or of any of the four little mermaids (who look like seven year old human children with tails in Garth Williams' beautiful illustrations - the merbaby looks like a six month old human child). The fisherman and his wife at first do not feel that they need a child at all - children are "messy" and they are quite happy as they are.

So - the story is what it is. There are flaws, clearly - and as noted, when I first read it as a child, it didn't occur to me that it could be considered a story about adoption (or fostering, which might be closer to what happens in the story). The human couple are very grieved to return the merbaby to the little mermaids, but do what they know is right. Their own child's very recent birth prevents the mother from coming to visit with the merbaby and little mermaids later, but the baby is a newborn, and it's hardly to be expected that the mother would rise up from childbed for a visit just then. The little mermaids are quite sure that she will return with her baby, however, and that both babies can be admired and enjoyed during future friendly visits.

Left open is the question of what might have occurred had the human child not been born. But it's a story, after all, and a fairy tale for all that.

Like real life, not all ends are neatly tied up in a pretty bow in literature, not even in children's books, and "what-ifs" are not always productive.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:23 PM
 
1,879 posts, read 1,854,241 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
I am not going into criticizing the concepts of "The Lost Merbaby", but it never occurred to me that it could be a parable or was analogous to adoption when I first read it as a child -and I had adopted relatives near my own age to whom I was close and was familiar with adoption.
Perhaps that is the thing, Craig. "The Lost Merbaby" was probably never marketed as an adoption book or targeted to adoptees/foster children etc. It was probably just a tale for all children to enjoy.

However, Tyler seems to be aiming his book specifically towards adoptees/foster children in the hope that it will make them feel better. Thus, he needs to be careful about how the concepts of the book can be interpreted. I think Lizita says it very well in her post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizita View Post
I don't have that much of a problem with the "foster child" being a troll, per se. To me trolls don't have a negative connotation. I've always thought they were cute. The problem I'm having is with the troll's role and purpose in the family. I would have had the same problem if Narg wasn't a troll but was an actual child they had been asked to care for. Actually I would probably have more of a problem with that. The story tells us that Narg's purpose is to take his foster parents' minds off things which helps them conceive but they let him stay anyway even though they have the real thing. Insinuating, purposely or not, that that's the role of an adoptee or foster child could be quite damaging to a young child living in a non-biological family. The problem would be the same even if Narg was a unicorn or a monkey. I also take issue with the fact that the book is described as a book about adoption and is intended to target fostered and adopted kids. I hope the authors will understand this too and not get caught up on the fact that Narg is a troll.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:17 PM
 
10,365 posts, read 8,345,914 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susankate View Post
Perhaps that is the thing, Craig. "The Lost Merbaby" was probably never marketed as an adoption book or targeted to adoptees/foster children etc. It was probably just a tale for all children to enjoy.

However, Tyler seems to be aiming his book specifically towards adoptees/foster children in the hope that it will make them feel better. Thus, he needs to be careful about how the concepts of the book can be interpreted. I think Lizita says it very well in her post:
Oh, I agree - my reason for posting about "The Lost Merbaby" was to point out the similarity of its plot with what seems to be the plot of the troll book, not to debate its merits as a story about adoption or foster care, although some might construe that to be its main focus.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:10 PM
 
Location: Chicago area
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I send a message to the author and he responded that they were planning to fix the issues with the storyline. I'm glad they're receptive to feedback and that all our messages to them made a difference, I hope. I'm curious to see what they do with the story.
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