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Model behavior with the Moodys


gardenvarietycitizen

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I'm reading "Summer with the Moodys" by Sarah Maxwell, 2003. (For those keeping track, that means the author is 21.)

 

One of the main purposes of the book is to provide "godly reading material for children - books that display good role models with families working together serving the Lord." This means that it provides an interesting glimpse into the world of Maxwellia.

 

Here are two quick excerpts from fairly early in the book:

 

 

Summer with the Moodys said:

(Setting: The Moodys call Animal Control upon finding some raccoons in a trash can.)

 

At the sound of a motor, they turned to see the Animal Control utility truck pulling into the driveway. A short man, who fully filled his bib overall, clamored out. Seeing the way the man's hair stuck out from under his cap, Dad fondly recalled his childhood term "bedhead."

 

"Howdy there. Muh name is Harold Gibson, but muh friends call me Big Red! Yore kids can just call me Harold. Y'all have a problem with some 'coons? There have been plenty of them around these parts lately," the man drawled.

 

"Actually, Harold, our family's preference is to have the children call you Mr. Gibson. We feel that is a way the children can show respect to adults," Dad replied.

 

Mr. Gibson nodded his head. "Whatever you want. Now, where were those 'coons?"

 

 

Summer with the Moodys said:
(Setting: The Moody family is getting back into their van on a hot day after visiting the nursing home. Maddie is the three year old youngest daughter.)

 

The family trooped back to the van. As soon as the children had climbed in, Maddie's sour mood flared up again. "I hot! Mollie, you're sittin' on my dwess." With a scowl on her usually sunny face, she tugged on the dress.

 

Dad glanced back in the rearview mirror at Maddie's frowning face. "Maddie, remember that memory verse you've been working on? Didn't it talk about a cheerful heart?"

 

Maddie nodded and wiped he tears away with the back of her little sweaty hand. "I 'member it. A mewwy heart maketh a cheerful countenance. Proberbs 15:13."

 

"Very good, Maddie. Try to be cheerful and not grumpy," Dad said.

 

Fascinating stuff.

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Jesus must weep for the Maxwell kids every day. He really must. :( The previous sentences were not intended to be snark in any way, shape, or form.

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SODRT fail is evident there with the substitution of "clamor" for "clamber." That's why spell-check isn't always good enough, Maxwells.

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oh god. I have never actually read a Moody book. This is worse than I thought...at least there are no gluesticks. :(

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Doesn't a normal three year old have the right to be grumpy because it is hot and someone is sitting on her dress?

Not everything is a blessing.

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Maddie's speech bothers me. Reading this story aloud, I would read "dwess" and "mewwy" and all the similar words that occur throughout these books, and my children would realise it was baby talk. However, if they were reading to themselves I do not think this would necessarily come across. I think they would either (1) not recognise what the word was or (2) if they did recognise the word, think that this was the correct spelling. By the time they were old enough to recognise written baby talk (10-11-12) they would have found these books basic and boring. I understand what Sarah is trying to do here but as both a teacher and a parent, I always look for books that model correct language and spelling. I may be the only one who notices this but it makes me twitch each time I see a Moody quote.

(I should add that I have a large collection of Golden Books from my childhood where American spellings have been corrected to British by my mother. Maybe my sensitivity on this issue was learnt from her.)

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Also - kid can't say 'merry' or 'dress' but can say 'countenance' and 'proverbs'?

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Writing out baby talk always annoys me, especially if the author writes all babies with the same type of dialogue. Some babies actually can speak, and in fact, my first sentence was grammatically correct, which floored my mother who was no expecting that.

I remember mom reading to me once and asking her why he character, age 4, was taking so funny. Mom explained, and I thought of all the 4 year olds I knew. None of them talked that way at all, and I decided it was one of those urban legends.

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Doesn't a normal three year old have the right to be grumpy because it is hot and someone is sitting on her dress?

Not everything is a blessing.

Agree!

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I'm glad it's not just me. I hadn't noticed the inconsistency: can't say dress but can say proverbs. That's the sort of mistake you expect in a young writer and is one of the reasons for school teachers, university professors and finally, editors. Pity Sarah has never had the benefit of any of the above.

Please Steve, if you do read here, Sarah has potential. Don't lock her up. Let her out to meet good writers and read good books. She could improve her writing skills then use these skills to write good books for Christian children.

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I...sometimes can't believe the Maxwells are actually real people. Their lives are just so unbelievably over controlled, sad, and boring, that it seems hard to fathom that they're really out there, day after day, scrubbing cabinets and each eating a single animal cracker and making sure not to wear contrasting buttons.

And it's even more insane to me that any other people have looked at them and been like, "Yes! That's how our family should be." How is it possible that they've been able to make a living off of selling their lifestyle in any way?!

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"Actually, Harold, our family's preference is to have the children call you Mr. Gibson. We feel that is a way the children can show respect to adults," Dad replied.

How rude! If an adult wants to be called by their first name then it is NOT 'respectful' to call them by mr/ ms last name.

I have friends who do this. I detest being called "mrs last name" it makes me cringe. Call me by my name..... Mrs first name, if you must. I WILL quickly correct it, too. Even when I was teaching preschool, and my boss insisted on the last name, *i* insisted on my first.

I don't know why it bothers me so much, it just does.

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This handyman walks in the door and immediately tells the parents how the children can address him? ("Your children can call me Harold.") On what planet?

Can you imagine if a plumber walked into your house to fix the sink, and one of the first things he says is "Your children can call me Bob." Wouldn't that be weird?

In my world, a handyman comes in the house, maybe says "hi" to the kids, and leaves it at that. The kids might say hi back, but nothing else, really. The kids and the handyman don't need to settle how he'll be address because: 1) the handyman will only be there a few minutes 2) the kids won't be talking much to him anyway and 3) no one really cares, anyway.

So the scene comes across as terribly fake and contrived, created just to show the Moody's beliefs on how kids should properly address adults.

(Kids can show respect for the handyman via common courtesy, like not interrupting, being quiet when necessary, saying thank you when he's done, etc. They don't need to do it by addressing him as "Mr.", though there's nothing wrong with that)

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Also - kid can't say 'merry' or 'dress' but can say 'countenance' and 'proverbs'?

Yeah, shouldn't that be Pwovewbs? :lol:

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"Actually, Harold, our family's preference is to have the children call you Mr. Gibson. We feel that is a way the children can show respect to adults," Dad replied.

How rude! If an adult wants to be called by their first name then it is NOT 'respectful' to call them by mr/ ms last name.

I have friends who do this. I detest being called "mrs last name" it makes me cringe. Call me by my name..... Mrs first name, if you must. I WILL quickly correct it, too. Even when I was teaching preschool, and my boss insisted on the last name, *i* insisted on my first.

I don't know why it bothers me so much, it just does.

Something like this just happened to me yesterday. I'm dog sitting for an old High School friend's mother. I kept calling her mrs last name. She insisted that I call her by first name. She said "we r all adults now".

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"Actually, Harold, our family's preference is to have the children call you Mr. Gibson. We feel that is a way the children can show respect to adults," Dad replied.

Ha.

Firstly, how disrespectful. They decide what they want him to be called? It's his name and he's the one who should decide what others should call him. It's a foreshadowing of the renaming of NR-Anna (and her sister).

Secondly, The insistence of using unnecessary or uncomfortable titles to show respect was the idea when we were growing up too. Some people have never managed to notice that idea that a good part of communication to is non-verbal and that you can be tremendously disrespectful while repeating the correct words. In fact, most children who are brought up to put adults on a pedestal simply for being adults will grow to resent it pretty quickly and do exactly that to all the adults they don't think worthy of respect.

I'm glad it's not just me. I hadn't noticed the inconsistency: can't say dress but can say proverbs. That's the sort of mistake you expect in a young writer and is one of the reasons for school teachers, university professors and finally, editors. Pity Sarah has never had the benefit of any of the above.

Please Steve, if you do read here, Sarah has potential. Don't lock her up. Let her out to meet good writers and read good books. She could improve her writing skills then use these skills to write good books for Christian children.

I know the Maxwells are all about substance over form but the idea that anyone can write a children's book just pisses me off. Just because something needs to be simple does not mean that it's easy. Writing good children's literature is something that takes skill, stringing a bunch of words together simply to bludgeon home a blunt moral message is not storytelling, it's children's propoganda.

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I...sometimes can't believe the Maxwells are actually real people. Their lives are just so unbelievably over controlled, sad, and boring, that it seems hard to fathom that they're really out there, day after day, scrubbing cabinets and each eating a single animal cracker and making sure not to wear contrasting buttons.

And it's even more insane to me that any other people have looked at them and been like, "Yes! That's how our family should be." How is it possible that they've been able to make a living off of selling their lifestyle in any way?!

I've been wondering this since I first time I heard about the Maxwell's.

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This handyman walks in the door and immediately tells the parents how the children can address him? ("Your children can call me Harold.") On what planet?

Can you imagine if a plumber walked into your house to fix the sink, and one of the first things he says is "Your children can call me Bob." Wouldn't that be weird?

:lol: Yes - that's what I thought! It would be more realistic if he'd said 'you can call me Harold', addressing the parents, but to tell them what the children could call him, a propos of nothing, is just a weird and obvious vehicle to promote the Maxwells' idea of good manners.

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"Actually, Harold, our family's preference is to have the children call you Mr. Gibson. We feel that is a way the children can show respect to adults," Dad replied.

How rude! If an adult wants to be called by their first name then it is NOT 'respectful' to call them by mr/ ms last name.

I have friends who do this. I detest being called "mrs last name" it makes me cringe. Call me by my name..... Mrs first name, if you must. I WILL quickly correct it, too. Even when I was teaching preschool, and my boss insisted on the last name, *i* insisted on my first.

I don't know why it bothers me so much, it just does.

Here I thought I was the only one. I don't want to be called "Mrs." anything by anyone and I don't like Mrs. (first name) either. I am a simple person. There isn't anything particularly special about me, and I don't feel anymore respected when someone calls me by my last name.

I also find it rude to teach your children to basically say to someone, "I know you'd prefer to be called ____, but I think we'll call you ____ instead".

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SODRT fail is evident there with the substitution of "clamor" for "clamber." That's why spell-check isn't always good enough, Maxwells.

I double-checked that just now to be sure it wasn't just transcription typing fail on my part - and it's not. It really is "clamor" in the original!

Does she really try to render dialect that way? If so, barf.

Yes, in many places. I have to admit it's one of those "literary devices" I hate, no matter who is doing it. It looks silly, makes the text harder to read, and very, very often ends up being offensive. (Also: harder to type! :))

Maddie's speech bothers me. Reading this story aloud, I would read "dwess" and "mewwy" and all the similar words that occur throughout these books, and my children would realise it was baby talk. However, if they were reading to themselves I do not think this would necessarily come across. I think they would either (1) not recognise what the word was or (2) if they did recognise the word, think that this was the correct spelling.

This too. I'm actually surprised a bit by the "dialect rendering" thing because in a sense it violates the "things in the book should be True" rule.

Your talk about your mom editing a book for you reminds me of a fond memory of my own. I had a book all about animals as a kid and I remember sitting down with my mom and talking while she taught me and drew the taxonomy of life inside the front covers, in nice handwriting. "There's plants, and animals, animals contain 'animals with backbones' and 'animals without'..." etc. (And no, I was not homeschooled either!)

This handyman walks in the door and immediately tells the parents how the children can address him? ("Your children can call me Harold.") On what planet?

The sort of planet where people say "Oh! I should have known you were saved by the blood of Jesus! Because you're such kind people!" when you offer to pet-sit their dog...

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