A classic since its first publication, in 1863, The Water-Babies is the story of Tom, a little chimney sweep, and his magical adventures beneath the waves.
When young Tom flees his sooty, dangerous toil and his cruel master, Grimes, he finds himself plunged into "a quiet, silent, rich, happy place"--a land beneath the water "so out of the way the bad bogies can hardly find it out." There, Tom meets haughty dragonflies, makes friends with a slowwitted lobster, and dodges hungry otters. Eventually he meets the other water-babies and their clever rulers, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid and Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby.
Charles Kingsley's "fairy tale for a land baby" has charmed generations of readers. This handsome facsimile edition-with Jessie Willcox Smith's twelve exquisite full-color plates and two-color illustrations throughout-is the perfect way to introduce this classic to a new generation.
Used Book in Good Condition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ten year old Tom is a young chimney sweep who lives in a great town in the North country of England. He has never been taught to say his prayers or even heard of God and Christ except in cursing. He works for an abusive master named Mr. Grimes who drinks beer and smokes a pipe. One day, while cleaning chimneys in an upper-class house, he accidentally comes out in the room of a young girl named Ellie where a nurse accuses him of breaking in to steal. He runs away, falls into a river, and is transformed into a “water-baby,” as he is told by a caddisfly. There he begins his moral education under the major spiritual leaders of his new world such as the fairies Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby (a reference to the Golden Rule), Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid, and Mother Carey, as well as Ellie, who became a water-baby after he did.
In his final adventure, Tom must travel to the Other-end-of-Nowhere in an attempt to help Grimes, his old master, who is being punished for his...
The Water-Babies is a fairy tale. As the author tells us, “There must be fairies; for this is a fairy tale: and how can one have a fairy tale if there are no fairies?” But the main character isn’t a fairy, he’s a young, ill-treated chimney sweep named Tom who falls into the river and becomes a water-baby.
Being a water-baby, being exactly and only 3.87902 inches long, and being invisible to normal folk, Tom sees his new watery world in ways we can’t. There are observations on the evolution of sea life and on what people should do to protect the aquatic and marine environment. We are told to deplore those cases “where men are wasteful and dirty, and let sewers run into the sea instead of putting the stuff on the fields like thrifty reasonable souls.”
Tom meets other water-babies and finds that, like him, they are children who have “come to grief by ill-usage or ignorance or neglect.” He continues his journey...
I consider "The Water Babies" to be an engaging nineteenth century "fairy tale" for children, The book describes the transformation of Tom, a maltreated and badly behaved chimney sweep, into a tiny human "water baby." The book recounts Tom's adventures as he meets various creatures of streams, rivers and the sea and encounters a little girl of a higher social status than his, as well as personifications of a "higher power." Tom becomes a human adult believing in a higher power that "makes things make themselves.".
Charles Kingsley published this book in 1873, just after Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species," "Variations in Animals and Plants Under Domestication" and "The Descent of Man..." appeared. Kingsley was probably aware of how the controversial concept of evolution impacted both the belief in a divine being and the concept of creation by a higher power. The book has always seemed to me to...
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