The Girl's Own Book

Derivative and Transformative Works

ransformations of, and derivations from, existing texts are nowhere more apparent historically than in books for young readers. Popular works begat sequels and series. Figures from well-known stories, including fairy tales and nursery rhymes, featured in cheap anonymous works created rapidly by profit-conscious publishers. Canonical texts, including the Bible, novels, and plays, were simplified, shortened, extracted, and sanitized. And imitation and parody built on the strengths of already popular books.

The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast evoked a host of similar poetic accounts of parties given by animals, but The Butterfly’s Funeral is the only true sequel; the guests from the Ball return to mourn their host.
Goody Two Shoes’ Birthday gathers a coterie of well-known literary figures: the hostess; the fabled Dick Whittington; Pompey the Little, canine hero of a 1751 satire on fashionable society; and Old Mother Hubbard.
Tales from Shakespear retells some of Shakespeare’s plays for a juvenile audience, removing anything inappropriate for young readers.
Robinson Crusoe represents an extreme condensation of a long narrative — the original text filled 364 pages, while the chapbook has 16.
The author of Elsie’s Expedition imitated and reused story structure, setting, and events; he wrote in a foreword, ‘I admit that this book would, in all probability never have been written, had I not seen “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”’
The Egyptian Struwwelpeter is a spoof of Hoffman’s parodic cautionary verses.

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