Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Considering Corduroy

Susan's (Chicken Spaghetti) post about Corduroy had me thinking off and on all day about my favorite childhood bear. Corduroy really was my number one--the book I loved most of all. I remember finding it in my third grade classroom, long after I had given up picture books and feeling like I found an old friend.

Susan links to an article written by Karen MacPherson about Corduroy's 40th birthday. In the article, MacPherson talks about the magic of Corduroy and why children still fall for his world:
  • "'Corduroy' taps into a persistent childhood fantasy," says Anita Silvey, children's-book expert and author of '100 Best Books for Children.' "Children know that when they leave the room, their toys have all kinds of adventures; this fantasy underlies 'Toy Story,' 'The Lonely Doll' and 'Corduroy.'"
While I agree with MacPherson and Silvey here that toys coming to life is a persistent childhood fantasy, I am wondering if I'm alone when I contend that this was not the fantasy that drew me to Corduroy. As a child, I didn't wish dolls and toys had a life of their own when we left the room, I believed it with all my heart. My sister and I used to lay traps for our toys--traps that were always tripped, by the way. What drew me to Corduroy was another fantasy altogether: being in a magical world ordinarily forbidden to you. In this case, the department store after hours. I followed Corduroy up the escalator, to the furniture section where he topples a lamp, wondered about where else he could go in this secret world.

So, forty years on--what draws you to Corduroy?

I also loved Lisa as Freeman renders her. She's warm, resourceful, and, I thought, she looked more like me than most picture book heroines of the era.

The Lonely Doll is also a book I was intrigued by as a child. And it's a subject for another post. The Lonely Doll taps into fantasy in entirely different, hopefully latent, way.