We inherited a number of Little Little Golden Books a few years ago. These are tiny, child-sized versions of the regular Little Golden books. I am not, for the most part, a fan of the writing in the Little Golden Books, which seems to be from the era of Dick and Jane and varies from patriarchal to nonsensical.
But the opening passage in a book called “We Help Daddy”, by Mini Stein, has stuck in my head for some time now due to its similarity to William Faulkner’s recognizable style and voices of certain of his characters in the novels “As I Lay Dying” and “The Sound and the Fury” in particular.
The story “We Help Daddy” is told in the first person by Sue, a girl of about 3 or 4 years old who helps her older brother and her father with household chores.
We help Daddy a lot, Benjy and I. Daddy fixes the attic door. He calls, “Hammer, please.”
Benjy hands him the hammer.
Then Daddy says, “Sue, are you ready to help me, too?”
I am Sue, so I hold out my hands to show I am ready.
The line beginning “I am Sue”, which would sound less unnatural coming from a Faulkner character, sounds completely out of place when spoken by a young child. It seems very unlikely that anyone’s internal monologue contains phrases like, “I am so-and-so.” I would expect this to be particularly true of young children, who, in my experience, have a very different sense of self.
Anyway, I though I’d note this before the books are outgrown and I forget about them completely.