Almost as absurd as dressing a chicken in lederhosen
June 10, 2019 9:48 PM   Subscribe

 
Wow, I had a flashback, looking at those pictures. Been a very long time since I read them as a child.
posted by tavella at 9:53 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Her version of tea cake always sounded delicious to me.
posted by praemunire at 10:05 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Yeeessss.

Guess who was a children's storyteller in her teens and had to dress up as Amelia Bedelia for her job? Not nearly as bad as being a Bearenstain Bear. But still.

I'd feel better about the whole thing if I could view it is feminist, socialist protest in retrospect or something.
posted by greermahoney at 10:11 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


But if the chicken aren't wearing lederhosen, then where did the chicken dance come from?

It's like reality doesn't even work anymore!
posted by hippybear at 10:23 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


More seriously, I read all the Amelia Bedelia books back when they were age appropriate (or maybe a bit earlier -- I was precocious)... I haven't revisited them since then but the idea of re-reading them now, as an adult, holds a certain allure. It might be a thing I do one of these days, just as an exercise but with the possibility of insight.
posted by hippybear at 10:24 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


These along with Harriet the Spy were my favorite books as a kid. I still will go back and reread Amelia when I'm in a the world sucks and everything is horrible mood.
posted by kanata at 10:33 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


"dress the chicken" is family lexicon in this household
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 10:51 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Oh I remember this - dressing the chicken and drawing the drapes. This and The Phantom Tollbooth probably both contributed to my verbal fascinations / punning.
posted by batter_my_heart at 12:06 AM on June 11 [7 favorites]


I found these books totally baffling as a kid. I mean, even now if you asked me to dress a chicken and there happened to be chicken-size lederhosen nearby and I didn't have Google to look up "what is 'dressing a chicken'" I'd be like "uh, ok, whatever you say boss" and you'd end up with a clothed chicken. I had no clue what "dress the chicken" or "draw the drapes" meant as a kid in a vegetarian household with cheap metal blinds. I always suspected kids who claimed to like Amelia Bedelia had to be faking it.

Why not just say CLOSE the drapes?? It's much clearer!

Obviously I'm still not over this
posted by potrzebie at 12:45 AM on June 11 [10 favorites]


Obligatory the Toast, Amelia Bedelia made horrific.

Or more horrific, anyway.
posted by Mogur at 1:20 AM on June 11 [9 favorites]




Obligatory the Toast, Amelia Bedelia made horrific.
I get that apparently she interprets everything literally, so I get the bit about just reading the list. But I don't understand the rest of this. What was the surprise she made? What was upstairs? Why was there no chair?
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:33 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


As in any good horror movie, the surprise is left to our imagination. Maybe there were children upstairs. Maybe a pet. Maybe a nosy neighbour or a repairman. Whatever it was, it's not there anymore.
posted by Mogur at 4:16 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I loved reading these to my son.
Pitch the tent.
Hit the road.
Great way to show that language is fluid.
posted by kokaku at 4:28 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


-What was the surprise she made? What was upstairs?
-As in any good horror movie, the surprise is left to our imagination.

I mean, you could get Lovecraftian: Change the beds = she performed some eldritch transformation, now they're some kid of 6th dimensional krakens made of eyes and knucklebones, that give you vertigo if you try to look direct at (or is it into?) them, and oh god, the clicking, the chattering, some sort of insect language that just repeats HUNGER
Or simply Edward Gorey-esque: After reading them a bedtime story, Amelia Bedelia...
Put the children to sleep.
posted by bartleby at 5:04 AM on June 11 [6 favorites]


This prompted me to look up the phrase 'soft lockdown,' and now I'm pretty bummed out, honestly.
posted by es_de_bah at 6:05 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


When my little brother was around the right age...4? 5? I told him at breakfast when he asked for mom, “She’s upstairs, changing for work....unfortunately she’s changing into...a snake.” The look of fear and terror that crossed his face on the road to tears...!

My daughter reads these and I’ve read them to her. She also likes joke books. It’s weird to see the word games and punning start to come into focus in her brain.
posted by amanda at 6:47 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


potrzebie: " I had no clue what "dress the chicken" or "draw the drapes" meant as a kid in a vegetarian household with cheap metal blinds. "

I think part of it is changing language making these puns less effective as old idioms fall into disuse. I noticed the same thing in The Phantom Tollbooth with the Awful Dynne.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:33 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Actually, reading these books to my children filled me with a sense of dread, and the belief that Amelia had some horrible cognitive issue and was likely a danger to herself and others.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:34 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I think this is an excellent interpretation of the series! The later books written by her nephew are truly horrible.
posted by tangosnail at 7:50 AM on June 11


I am enjoying the workplace sabotage take, though I had always just interpreted her as being autistic.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:56 AM on June 11


For more wordplay (but without the domestic sabotage), TV's Herman Munster, Fred Gwynne wrote and illustrated a number of books of homonym wordplay (Goodreads).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:14 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I know someone who had to learn English as a second language and she loves Amelia Bedelia and how Amelia keeps going even though she is in this world where people keep saying things that don't make sense.
posted by eckeric at 8:47 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]






I loved these books. They were the antidote to that childhood feeling of all the adults laughing at you and saying “oh isn’t that cute?” when you misunderstood something. “See, it’s not just me!”
posted by sallybrown at 10:37 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I loved this essay and the other links. A+++++++ for revisionist Amelia Bedelia.
posted by medusa at 10:49 AM on June 11


I think part of it is changing language making these puns less effective as old idioms fall into disuse. I noticed the same thing in The Phantom Tollbooth with the Awful Dynne.

When we read that in fifth grade (back in 1980), the teacher got angry at us for not getting that calling the height-challenged Officer Shrift "Short Shrift" was a play on words. "If you don't understand something, you need to look it up!" she said sharply. I remember sitting there wondering "how do I know to look it up if I don't even recognize it's something I don't understand?"
posted by Lexica at 10:59 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


I hated these books as a child. I love puns and wordplay (still do) but they made me terribly anxious because Amelia Bedelia had been assigned a task and had gotten it horribly wrong and was going to Get In Trouble. I realize that all the books end with her being forgiven for her mistakes - because of baked good bribes - but this did not allay any of my anxiety.
posted by darchildre at 11:27 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Rereading these books now, I've sort of wondered if Amelia was supposed to be an irish or german immigrant, newly come to the country and needing work, but not always understanding the idioms of her rich WASP employers. But some of the things she gets confused about annoy me- who says undust the furniture or undraw the drapes? And why does putting frosting ("icing") on a fish make more sense than putting fish in ice? I know that that children tend to love absurdity and making adults look silly, but her wanton destruction bothered me as a kid. Seeing her as some sort of passive aggressive force of nature makes me feel a little better about it.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 11:41 AM on June 11


A previous version of this post misidentified the type of clothing worn by the chicken in the drawing.

I. MUST. KNOW.
posted by pykrete jungle at 12:20 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


... I had no clue what "dress the chicken" or "draw the drapes" meant as a kid in a vegetarian household with cheap metal blinds...

I never read these as a child, so I first encountered them as a parent when we were reading them to our little kids. Their whole reaction was basically (and I'm paraphrasing here:) "what the fuck is a maid?"
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:17 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


In the next season of Black Mirror, Amelia Bedelia will be an android with a VERY literal natural language processing algorithm...
posted by happyroach at 1:49 PM on June 11


Charlie Booker called. He left a cryptic "thank you, happyroach" message and then hung up as I heard a keyboard begin clattering.
posted by hippybear at 9:43 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Oh god, he's going to combine that idea with that time Watson was fed Urban Dictionary and then had to have it deleted because the results were horrid.

This is NOT going to be pretty!
posted by hippybear at 9:45 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


A previous version of this post misidentified the type of clothing worn by the chicken in the drawing.

What a time to be alive.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:17 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]


pykrete jungle: According to one of the greatest and most important websites on the entire internet, it was overalls.
posted by BiggerJ at 11:08 PM on June 12


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