Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The UnDutchAbles

I have a problem.

Over the long weekend, I sent my husband up into our storage space in the rafters, to look for several old boxes of books I was sure were up there. He retrieved one box, insisting it was the only one, and I choose to believe him because I fear the crawl space and the critters and phantasms I am convinced live there, hiding behind our boxes of Christmas crap, waiting to jump out at me, and only me. Sure enough, the box contained the book I was looking for - my childhood copy of The Complete Brothers Grimm.

I re-read my favorite story, "The Juniper Tree," and wondered how on earth Walt Disney came up with idea of adapting any of these very macabre little stories into sweet animated children's movies with singing bluebirds and happy endings. Then I wondered if I could read them to my daughter without someone calling CPS on me.

But that's not actually the point of this blog post.

The book was stashed away in a box full of children's books. Many of them were mine and I was thrilled to find them and restore them to their rightful spot on my shelves. (Uncle Wiggly! So good to see you! Ozma of Oz! Delighted! SNOOOOOPY!! Good dog!) Many of them, though, belong to my 9-year-old daughter - and this is the problem.

The books, you see, are in Dutch. Technically, my daughter is Dutch, but I really can't overstress how much of a technicality that is: Her father is Dutch, and lives in Holland, and she has a citizenship through him. She lives in Seattle, speaks only English, and has no memory of her one visit to that country. I'm not sure she could find Holland on a map.

At one time, I spoke some Dutch - I spent a month in the Hague at a Dutch language immersion school, right upstairs from Christine le Duc, a sex shop. Good times, indeed. I acquired a number of these books while taking that class, with the idea that I could read them to help learn the language, and then they would be for our child someday.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans.  

So now I have this box of children's books, written in a language I didn't use long enough to master and have mostly forgotten, intended for a child who doesn't speak the language either. The difficulty with Dutch (the language, I mean) is that not many people speak it outside of Holland; and since I don't know any of those that do, I am at a loss for what to do with these books.

I love books, especially ones with lots of lovely illustrations: It's like a crime against literature to throw them away ... not to mention a crime against nature, since the world hardly needs more landfill. I contemplated a big, generous gesture: I could mail them to my ex-husband in Holland, who surely could find some young children to enjoy them. But there are a lot of books, and they're heavy, and although relations with him have not recently been hostile, well - it's kind of a lot of money to spend to make him look good.

Not that I gave that a moment's thought, obviously.

I'm giving myself a week or so to come up with a plan - which I swear will not consist of putting the books into back into the attic and once again, forget that they are there.

1 comment:

  1. Is there a Dutch embassy or some sort of Dutch something to whom you could donate the books? There must be a group that could use them.


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