Recently my dear friend Ellie has reviewed the Elsie Dinsmore books in her blog. I couldn't disagree with her more on almost every point she mentions. So, rather than leave an insanely long comment telling her how wrong she is, I thought I would share my opinion with all of you. I know Ellie won't mind. In fact, both Ellie and her mother informed me this Sunday that they looked forward to reading my rebuttal. So here, my friends, is my case against the beloved and despised Elsie Dinsmore.
I'd like to begin by stating that I have actually not only read the first Elsie Dinsmore book, but five out of the twelve. So while I haven't totally immersed myself in the Elsie world, I am well acquainted with it. In addition, I prepared for this post by skimming over the first book again, which is the book I will primarily focus on in this post.
As I read, I found myself reading sections aloud to my family in disbelief. I wish I had the time to write a complete commentary on every chapter of the book. I, however, do not. So I'm going to simply outline my main points of contention with the book and respond to some things that Ellie said in her post. I might mention that I do not claim to be unbiased, I am quite ready to admit that I think that the whole series is ridiculous.
#1. Elsie's judgment is portrayed as infallible. At eight years old she is wiser than all of the adults in the story. This seriously irks me. Her convictions are shown to be superior to those of her elders in nearly every chapter of the book! How is that biblical?
The Bible teaches that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. I see foolishness in Elsie all through the books. But rather than point that out, the author portrays Elsie's foolishness to be a brand of child-like faith, while her father's wisdom is portrayed as hard-hearted worldliness.
#2. Elsie does not honor the proper order of authority. More than once her father asks Elsie to do something that she considers to be against what the Bible teaches, such as to play what Elsie considers to be a secular song on the piano or read a secular book on Sunday. Elsie totally ignores the biblical concepts of authority and chooses, instead, to have a test of will with her father, which she eventually wins. What's more, this is considered to be good thing in the story.
I cannot agree with this. This is, to me, a very dangerous concept to endorse. Teaching children that they must question the authority of their parents at every turn is a terrible notion. I encourage young people to evaluate their personal standards against the Word of God, but while they are under the authority of their parents it is right and proper for them to defer to the judgment of the parents that God has placed them with.
In response to Ellie:
My issue is not that Elsie is too perfect. It is that she is imperfect, but portrayed as perfect.
I do not view Elsie's disobedience as being nullified because she supposedly repents of it years and years later. It has spoiled all the earlier books already.
Yes, Elsie is a cry baby. This annoys the heck out of me, but I think it is more than just personal preference. She has no handle on her emotions and is incapable of being happy with her life unless everything is just so. I can't see how this could be something anyone would like...
I know this isn't everything... But if you read the books, I have confidence that you, oh discerning reader, (minus Ellie and Autumn :P) will see the faults for yourself.