Without doubt she was the worst of the seven, probably because she was the cleverest. Her brilliant inventive powers plunged them all into ceaseless scrapes, and though she often bore the brunt of the blame with equanimity, they used to turn round, not infrequently, and upbraid her for suggesting the mischief. She had been christened "Helen," which in no way account's for "Judy," but then nicknames are rather unaccountable things sometimes, are they not? Bunty said it was because she was always popping and jerking herself about like the celebrated wife of Punch, and there really is something in that. Her other name, "Fizz," is easier to understand; Pip used to say he never yet had seen the ginger ale that effervesced and bubbled and made the noise that Judy did.Spare a thought for me today as I attempt to struggle my way through Chapter 21 of Seven Little Australians. Yes, that chapter - the one where imaginative, enthusiastic, rebellious, lively, daring, delightful Judy dies.
The death of Mr Percival in Storm Boy earlier in the year was hard enough to read aloud without blubbering, let me tell you, but I've been dreading this scene all year. How am I going to read this?
Which has me thinking about sad bits in children's literature. Which, do you think are the saddest scenes? Which parts have you reaching for the tissues? The Little Match Girl springs to mind, of course, as does Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl. The scene where Captain Crewe dies in A Little Princess is pretty heart rending as well.
I am sure there are more.
What are the saddest scenes in your opinion? What books have you found hardest to read aloud? Do tell.
While you're at it, do you reckon sad bits in children's stories are appropriate? At what age? What about current children's books?
I'd love to know your thoughts on this one.
PS If you decide to torture yourself by reading Seven Little Australians to your family, do keep a look out for the deliciously gorgeous version illustrated by John Lennox. It's out of print, but well worth searching out for the sublime illustrations. That's his picture above.