As a child i loved the Faraway Tree series (i still do!). They would transport me into my wildest dreams, especially the Land of Goodies! A few weeks ago i was browsing through the book section at Vinnies and i came across The Folk of the Faraway Tree for $2. I was thrilled. I bought it and started reading the back of it, reminiscing on all the memories i had of one of my favourite books. However i was a little confused at first because the names weren’t right. Had i bought a rip off of the original Faraway Tree series? I got home and started researching it and no, i’d bought the same book, it was just a modernised version. Why would they need to modernise it? Obviously because in this day and age ‘Dick’ and ‘Fanny’ are no longer appropriate. Now they are ‘Rick’ and ‘Frannie’. Seriously?
The books were originally published in 1943, when many people had those names. Now that they’ve been turned into slang names for sex organs, so it’s not longer appropriate. You might think i am overreacting however think about it this way. They may only feel the need to change their names at the moment because ‘today’ those names aren’t appropriate. However if they feel okay to do that, where will it stop? In 50 – 100 years will Jo, Bessie and ‘Frannie’ be going to the land of Organics and Health Food because childhood obesity will be so bad that having the Land of Goodies will be encouraging the epidemic?
When i read those books as a child, Dick and Fanny weren’t in my vocabulary however i do remember my Mum explaining to me that they were “olden day” names. I accepted that instantly because there were a lot of different things in “the olden days” that i knew about. Obviously 1943 isn’t really the “olden days” but as a young child i could easily grasp that concept. And i understand that not everything in history is nice; for example the way non-whites, women, slaves and servants were treated, and that treatment of the sort is not appropriate nowadays. However does that mean that some of the greatest books in history we rewrite because of that? Or are only children’s books going to be ‘modernised’ because us adults understand. To be honest i think some children, given the chance, would understand and act a lot more maturely than a lot of adults i know. After all, who is your child’s greatest teacher?