So. You may have heard that a certain couple is getting married tomorrow. As I’m never going to be the one to refuse the opportunity to jump onto a bandwagon, here are four of my favourite marriages /partnerships / expressions of love from children’s literature. Love, as one great sage once said, love changes everything.
1. My first couple is Jo March and Prof. Bhaer from Little Women. Their proposal says it all really. It’s all awkwardly blunt and really rather resolutely stripped of romance. Yep, it’s a little cheesey now, but if you consider it in the context of the day, for a man to prostrate himself emotionally before a woman, it’s kind of groundbreaking.
“‘Jo, I haf nothing but much love to gif you; I came to see if you could care for it, and I waited to be sure that I was something more than a friend. Am I? Can you make a little place in your heart for old Fritz?’ he added, all in one breath.
2. Roy and Silo from And Tango Makes Three are my second couple of choice. This is one of the books that regularly appears on the most controversial lists. Slightly ironic really as, to be honest, it’s primarily just about Penguins. And Tango Makes Three actually is one of the most relevant picture books we’ve had recently. Families don’t come in a 2.4 scenario anymore. They come in all shapes and sizes and it’s right that literature reflects this. Plus, it’s ridiculously heartwarming. and anything that makes me cry over penguins automatically equals win in my (excuse the pun) book.
“We’ll call her Tango,… because it takes two to make a Tango”
3. This is one not between humans, but between a lot of people and a horse. I’ve spoken about my love for War Horse before but it fits here as well. It’s ironic that a book about war and death and tragedy should feature such intense love throughout. From Albert taking solace with Joey, knowing that the horse is the only one who understands him in a changing world, through to Joey and Topthorn’s heartbreakingly beautiful relationship, this book makes me bend and break each and every time.
But any fear I had was overwhelmed by a powerful sense of sadess and love that compelled me to stay with Topthorn as long as I could. I knew that once I left him I would be alone in the world again, that I would no longer have his strength and support beside me. So I stayed with him and waited.
4. My final choice moments are pretty much every proposal from the Chalet School series by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. From Len’s wince-worthy capitulation to the dorkish Reg (“I take it we’re engaged? Like it darling?” NO LEN JUST SAY NO, IT’S LIKE WITH PEER PRESSURE AND THE DRUGS AND YOU’LL REGRET IT NO END) and through to Grizel finally being awarded with her doctor after being a nightmare to all and sundry for the past kazillion years (although I do have sympathy for her having to put up with Joey’s splendidly inane white bread theory). And then there’s the classic below…
Madge would have tried to console her; but Jack Maynard gave her a shock. Holding Joey very tightly to him, he said in tones there was no mistaking, “Never mind, my darling. It’s all over, and Robin is safe. . .”
And before the stunned Madge could gasp out any ejaculation, Joey sobbed, “Oh, Jack – what a – solid lump – of comfort you – are!”