Sunday, January 31, 2016

Book Thoughts - Bambi by Felix Salten

Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten
192 pages
first published 1923

Synopsis -

Bambi's life in the woods begins happily. There are forest animals to play with -- Friend Hare, the chattery squirrel, the noisy screech owl, and Bambi's twin cousins, frail Gobo and beautiful Faline. 

But winter comes, and Bambi learns that the woods hold danger -- and things he doesn't understand. The first snowfall makes food hard to find. Bambi's father, a handsome stag, roams the forest, but leaves Bambi and his mother alone. 

Then there is Man. He comes to the forest with weapons that can wound an animal. He does terrible things to Gobo, to Bambi's mother, and even to Bambi. But He can't keep Bambi from growing into a handsome stag himself, and becoming...the Prince of the Forest.

My thoughts -

One of the first piles of books I'm planning to tackle in my year of #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks is the every-growing, nearly mountainous pile of books I've acquired with the thought that "I'll read this to the kids some day". Some of them are Newbery winners, some are remnants from my own childhood, some are just titles that sounded good at the time. Nevertheless, there are a LOT of them, and I'd like to do a little previewing before I start stumbling blindly into bedtime, and find myself stuck with a story I can't stand....

First on my pile was Bambi. This particular copy was from a set given to me as a kid - tan and red hardbacks, all animal stories, with a box for the set that is long gone. I am about 98% sure I never actually read this one growing up, so with only the Disney story in my head I will admit I was pleasantly surprised.

Salten's tale of the forest is much darker and richer than the cartoon version. The animals still talk, but their interactions seem strangely appropriate, as if the author has been given the ability to sense what it actually going on in their minds. This is an unforgiving world, and the weak and hurt do not fair well. It is also a beautiful world, with captivating descriptions of Bambi's word and the creatures who inhabit his forest.

I'm not sure I expected a novel about a deer to be a page-turner, but it was. I found myself eager to return to its pages, and feel emotionally invested in the story from the first chapter. I also felt a genuine amount of tension as I read, which is not a feeling I generally get from chapter book fiction. 

I'm really glad I decided to read this, and will definitely keep it on the shelves to read to the kids. I might wait for a bit - I'm not sure I'm ready for them to hear a book with quite this much death, even if it is about a deer. But this is an excellent novel, and I do recommend it for your little person library.

Finished - 1/30/16
Source - my shelves!
MPAA rating - PG - this has some scary stuff!
My rating - 4/5

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