Thursday, August 26, 2010

Absent parents in children's books

What children's books can you think of that involve the child/children being orphans or having absent parents?  When you start thinking about it - there are loads.  Life is much more fun for kids without the rules and restrictions of parents!

I've been reading a fun book this week called 'The Adventures of Nanny Piggins' (2009) by R. A. Spratt.  The Green children need a nanny because their mother has mysteriously disappeared in a boating accident.  But Mr. Green is not really prepared to pay money for an actual nanny so when Sarah Piggins (her qualifications are being a flying pig in the circus) arrives at the doorstep he's quite happy to accept her.  She is a terrible nanny and lets the children eat chocolate for every meal, but every day is a new adventure with Nanny Piggins.  Aimed at children aged 8-12, it is good fun.

So - any other children's books you can think of without parents?

8 comments:

Simone R. said...

L.M. Montgomery - Anne of Green Gables, the Emily series, L.M Alcott - Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom (really awful books. Don't read them.), A Deltora Quest book one of our kids is currently reading, Harry Potter, tomorrow when the war began, any boarding school story.

Parents are tricky things to work into a story. If they are good parents they will keep the kids out of harm's way and that spoils all the potential fun. If they are bad parents, then that's just too difficult for kids to cope with. A story with a parent who doesn't care about their kid is a real tragedy. Much better to kill 'em off early in the story - or better still, before the story begins, then the kids can have unsupervised adventures.

Katie said...

I always find it funny that the 'Charlie and Lola' books talk about Mum and Dad but you never see them in the pictures.

Pip said...

One of my favourite books from childhood was Nurse Matilda. The kids were so naughty, and the parents so vague and incompetent. Lovely book, not really done any justice by the movie Nanny McPhee.

Catherine said...

Roald Dahl doesn't like parents in his books.

We're also reading Nanny Piggins at the moment - the second book. Makes us all laugh.

Sarah said...

Hansel and Gretel?

Then there are lots of Enid Blyton books where the parents are mentioned but barely feature in the story - the boarding school books, St Clare's, Mallory Towers etc and even in the Magic Faraway Tree series, the kids have all the fun on their own or with magical creatures.

Heather said...

Pippi Longstocking is spectacularly without parents. In the Narnia books you don't have to kill off the parents - they just get left behind. This strategy seems common in scifi/fantasy/adventure/quest sort of books. It's a nice combination of leaving the child free of parents for the bulk of the book but having them reappear for the happy ending. It's similar to the boarding school strategy I guess.

Sarah said...

Most Roald Dahl books (except Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Danny Champion of the World - although mum is dead in this one). Narnia books have no parents. In Seven Little Australians mum is dead and dad is incompetent and uninvolved. Rowan of Rin. Deltora Quest. Ink Heart trilogy mum is dead. A Louis Sachar book called "Someday Angeline" mum is dead (but dad is great). Most Colin Theile books the parents are almost absent. Tim Winton does a great job of including parents, just to have an author on the other side.

My girls laughed uproariously at Nanny Piggins and Pippi Longstocking.

Melissa said...

Just wanted to comment on a non-controversial topic :) I read all of the Nanny Piggins books to my 6yr old earlier in the year - he adored them. So did his big sisters who kept sneaking off with the books to read themselves. The new Nanny Piggins should be coming out later in the year.
Re the absent parents, I am choosing books for our teen book club atm and it is really hard to find a book that doesn't begin with a dead mother! As a writer, I appreciate the technique but I have 8 girls who are mighty tired of parents being continually killed off :)