Though I loved books as a kid, it was only late in grade school that I spent a roughly equal time of my day reading as playing with my “My-Little-Ponies” on the floor. However, one year Mom, my stepdad, and I went to our first Riverfest. Riverfest was a celebration of the River that goes through Wichita and the spring when it is celebrated… Anyway, I remember my favorite part was the bookfair… Of course, since that first Riverfest, the bookfair has been kept at a different part of the year… Yet I remember being told that I could have only one book… And I found The Lobster Books. It was copyrighted in the 1920’s, and recently it was republished as “an American The Wind in the Willows.” I have read both books… and thought The Curious Lobster (the title under which modern The Lobster Books was published) to be a book which I loved equally as a child… despite the fact that I did not think it attempted to go as deep with, say, the god Pan playing his paean to Nature.
Anyway, I have often fantasized about rewriting The Curious Lobster so that other children would appreciate it as much as I did. This is not because I fail to love the book as it is currently written. It is for the same reason that William Goldman rewrote The Princess Bride and Julius Lester rewrote Tales of Uncle Remus without the frame stories. Actually, it might be for a slightly different reason: I only think my book needs polishing, whereas Goldman found part of his classic book dull and people have questioned whether the frame story added rather than detracted from the stories of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear, among others. Both claimed as boys to try to read the original of their favorite book only to meet the terrible truth that it could not be read by a child without being seriously revised. By contrast, The Curious Lobster was readable enough but was a “forgotten” hit.
When I read it, it began with the character of the lobster, and how his cleverness led to his living to 70 years of age. Then, it goes on to how he met Mr. Badger–who was fishing–and how Mr. Badger was in trouble with Mr. Bear whom he had stolen from. Mr. Lobster is almost cooked to death by Mr. Bear when he tries to help Mr. Badger by talking to Mr. Bear, and then finally Mr. Bear is reconciled to Mr. Badger and Mr. Lobster, and the three become good friends. This story was my very favorite story book as a child besides A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
I shall finally reread it this weekend… or a little while after it, too… after I finish Akbar: The Great Mughal (474 pages) which a friend of mine are reading in concert so we can discuss it afterwards.