The Junior Historians at DHV are hard at work on a new exhibit for our school house. Way back when we first starting talking about stories, we knew we had to include discipline. One teen in particular was eager to research the subject!
She came up with some great text, but we knew we needed a visual. There aren’t a lot of artifacts that are specific to school discipline, and that’s definitely something that probably wasn’t captured in a photograph. Someone else (not me!) said “why don’t we look at children’s literature and see what we can find? And I think we know someone who has quite a collection. . .” All eyes turned to me.
So, the other night, I started looking through my books for photos of kids getting punished at school. I was hoping to find an illustration of Amy March getting swatted after the pickled lime incident.
And I wanted at least one illustration of someone writing lines on a blackboard. Just when I had about given up hope, All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown by Sydney Taylor supplied the perfect little illustration in a chapter called “The Wrong Side of Bed”
And what school punishment discussion is complete with out some old-fashioned paddling? The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald supplied this one–with a famous for other things illustrator to boot!
But in what should really be no surprise, I found a lot more illustrations of children misbehaving rather than getting punished. After all, what’s more fun to illustrate?
There’s this great picture of Laura rocking her desk in Little Town on the Prairie.
And I found two pictures of teachers dealing with mischief. There’s this illustration from These Happy Golden Years
And this wonderful one from The Anne of Green Gables Diary, illustrating a scene from Anne of Avonlea.
But I think it’s safe to say that one of the most frequently illustrated moments in all of classic 19th century children’s literature is that unforgettable moment when Anne breaks a slate over Gilbert’s head. I actually found 6 illustrations of this incident in my collection, but one of them wouldn’t quite scan. (And no, I will not answer the question of how many copies of Anne of Green Gables I own, though I will admit that it’s more than 6.) Which one is your favorite depiction?
It’s interesting to see how differently Gilbert is depicted–in some cases, he’s pretty defensive but in others, he’s completely surprised. I also love the expressions on the other student’s faces. I think my least favorite is the one from 1933–both look so passive, and Anne just looks mean, not angry. My favorite is either the original illustration (I think they got Anne and Gilbert right) or the one from 1988. Both also capture how fast that whole thing happened–I don’t think Anne really thought about it, she just did it. Which is how so many students have gotten in trouble over the years.
Tomorrow, we’ll pick which illustrations go into the exhibit. I’m looking forward to a great discussion, both about these illustrations and the exhibit as a whole.