The day the mermaid died

My daughter has—or had—a blanket that’s fashioned like a mermaid’s tail; you slide yourself inside it (if you are child-sized) and wear / are covered by it. It is brightly coloured and has a forked caudal fin at the end. But it is no longer wanted, has been put away with other ‘childish’ things. There is less room for cuddly toy animals and none at all for dolls.

And what of reading matter? Picture books were the first to go. Now a fresh slew of books is also making its way to the charity shop (thrift store). Into the box go Adam Blade’s Beast Quest stories; Chris Riddell’s Ottoline stories, she who once so delighted with her talking menagerie; Andrew Cope’s sleuthing pet Spy Dog takes a final woof; Gillian Shields’s Misty swims back to Coral Kingdom, along with a host of other mythical friends and chatty wildlife.

And away go the ‘classic’ children’s books that I bought for her, remembered from my own childhood—the pre-war rural simplicity of Milly Molly Mandy; the trials of Mildred at Miss Cackle’s Academy in Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch; self-possessed Polly and her egotistical companion in Catherine Storr’ Polly and the Woolf; Wilbur and Charlotte of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, the magical charm of Tove Jansson’s Moomins… And so many more.

The unicorn days were not that long ago

So goodbye mermaids, goblins, unicorns, fairies, dragons, witches, princes and princesses of faraway lands. Farewell then entire families of cute talking animals who teach your saucer-eyed cubs, kittens, fawns, your goslings and lambs such sound morals, introducing them to the daily realities and risks of the world, teaching them manners and respect. Your pink and purple glitter, your fabled wonders and simple lessons are not sought any longer. It’s even time for a send-off for the linguistic pinwheels of Roald Dahl, his witches, magical medicine, and the ultimate child’s dream of owning a chocolate factory—and this on Roald Dahl Day in UK, when I no longer have to find a character outfit for my daughter to dress up in.

In their place are books that deal with pre-teen ‘issues’ and have new lessons to impart, about the harder realities of a wider world –Jacqueline Wilson’s books, with their themes of divorce and single parent families, bullying, and bereavement; R.J. Palacio’s Wonder on the challenges of being different and fitting in; The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne’s tale of a concentration camp seen through the eyes of eight-year-old boys (a book being covered at school).

Don’t get me wrong, these are great books. There is so much choice for pre-teens and teens now… It’s just a little sad, like when they stop believing in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy.

Mermaid, Photo by Annette Batista Day on Unsplash
Unicorn, Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

12 thoughts on “The day the mermaid died

  1. A phase gone by, another to come. I believe in giving away childish things for charity so other children can benefit, but wouldn’t your kids want to keep something from theirs, something they could pass on to their kids?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We have a couple of things, a train set and a dolls house – but we’re struggling to house the latter! In terms of books, I am hoping they’ll remember their favourites and perhaps buy them for their children as I did – though that my be optimistic for my daughter as she’s less of an enthusiastic reader!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Will books even exist then? Will people know how to read? Will people WANT to read?


  2. I loved the Moomin books. I think I had the whole series. I didn’t give them away until I emigrated, keeping them for almost 40 years. I still have my Laura Ingalls-Wilder and Joan Aitken books though. Paddington, Pooh and Narnia all fell apart, but I replaced them with beautiful hardback collections which I’m almost afraid to touch.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Some great reminders of some fantastic books. Joan Aitken! So inventive and a wonderful writer – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is one of those I bought for mine. It’s hard to let go of books.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I couldn’t let these go. I stored them in boxes in the rafters. My dream was I’d pull them out for grandkids but neither of my kids are yet married (and in their 30’s). They may end up at the Goodwill yet.


  4. Good bye 🧜🏼‍♀️ mermaids! Hello Harry Potter & Voldemort…😂🖐 what’s next? 🧐😱

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True – I overlooked here the evidently growing interest in the fantasy genre in young adult and adult fiction – the kids will be meeting those dragons and mythical creatures again, only perhaps in a more sinister form!


  5. Andrew’s imagination has just been ‘whisked’ away to reading tales of ‘Just William’…………. I haven’t thought about this childhood ‘scallywag’ in years and years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember him – and Ginger and the other Outlaws, and Violet Elizabeth. When children’s books mainly seemed to have gangs and secret societies and, of course, a sworn enemy. It seemed so exciting.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your kid is growing and taste are changing 😊


  7. I think I might be the only one, but when I read the title, I thought of the American Pie and Madonna. “The day the MUSIC died.”


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