Susan Coolidge - Not Quite Eighteen. PDF

PDF Available here on Project Gutenberg. There are sixteen stories (and some of them have sub-stories) which is what I think the title refers to — most of the protagonists are much younger than eighteen.

1. "How Bunny Brought Good Luck" — A poor boy who's kind to his little sister might find hidden treasure

2. "A Bit of Willfulness" — An elder sister who acts as mother to her younger siblings should graciously cede her authority when a young stepmother appears

3. "The Wolves of St. Gervas" — A story about a hard winter in Switzerland in which nothing really bad happens, except to the wolves, and the Swiss characters speak English with silly diction

4. "Three Little Candles" — Illustrates "an ancient custom in New England" in which children are forbidden ever from telling one another imaginative stories, except when they are given small candles as a treat, and then they can only tell stories as long as the candle burns. I wonder if this happened to Susan Coolidge when she was a child and she therefore spent her adulthood telling children's stories to make up for it?

5. "Uncle and Aunt" — Don't be ashamed of your old-fashioned country relatives and the heaps of extremely out-of-date clothing they send with you when you go to stay with sophisticated people in the city

6. "The Corn-Ball Money, and What Became of It" — Two adorable little girls and their adorable little popcorn-ball stand (also, nineteenth-century tourism and the Great Chicago Fire)

7. "The Prize Girl of the Harnessing Class" — Girls should learn practical skills like harnessing and driving a horse and cart, because there might not always be a man around to rescue old ladies from forest fires

8. "Dolly Phone" — Traumatic! Daddy invents a talking doll. Little daughter has a tantrum and is accidentally recorded. Dolls are great success and sold all over the country. Luckily for business, the only doll with the tantrum-recording is the one daddy gives daughter for Christmas.

It says, "I hate everybody! I wish I was dead!"

Daughter recognizes her own voice and Daddy figures out what happened. Daughter has to keep the doll.
... now and then, when Amy has been cross and said a sharp word, and is sorry for it, she solemnly takes Dolly, sets her on her feet, and, as a penance, makes herself listen to all the hateful string of phrases which form her stock of conversation.

9. "A Nursery Tyrant" — Eldest sister must learn that the other children can make their own decisions sometimes

10. "What the Pink Flamingo Did" — It's a Chicago World's Fair story! There are two protagonists. One is Coco, a pink flamingo who was once trained to rescue dropped objects and small children from the water, and has been sent to the Fair as a curiosity. The other is Hassan, a Turkish boy who with his family is helping to represent Turkey at the Fair. It is a pretty cute story with not much plot (obviously, Hassan falls in the water and Coco rescues him) but I think the main attraction is supposed to be the juxtaposition between (a) American expectations, (b) the flamingo interpretation of the World's Fair, and (c) the Turkish family's interpretation of the World's Fair. This is supposed to be funny. The flamingo bit is; the Turkish bit ... isn't.

11. "Two Pairs of Eyes" — All kinds of wonderful things happen to Boy A and not to Boy B because Boy A is observant and Boy B isn't. Exactly the kind of story that would have made me feel miserable when I was a small child with undiagnosed ADD!

12. "The Pony That Kept the Store" — Hooray, a story with no moral! Child's pony is stabled in a building that was formerly a general store; child finds out what the pony gets up to at night when child is dreaming sleeping

13. "Pink and Scarlet" — "Madge Hoare meant to be a truthful child; but little by little, and day by day, her perception of what truth really is, was being worn away by the habit of exaggeration." And a horrible thing happens and nobody believes her because they all think she's exaggerating. Children, make sure to rid yourselves of verbal tics adults find annoying, or they will have a good excuse for not listening to you!

14. "Dolly's Lesson" — A little girl learns what the phrase "presence of mind" means, takes it to heart, and thereby somehow becomes able to save another child from drowning

15. "A Blessing in Disguise" — Coolidge forgot she'd written "A Bit of Wilfullness" and wrote it again, seriously

16. "A Granted Wish" — The happiest ending Coolidge thinks is reasonably possible for an illiterate daughter of a poor and alcoholic couple in the London slums is to become severely injured, be taken to the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, be comforted by a kind nurse and given a doll by the Princess of Wales, and then to die gradually and without pain. Storybook eugenics for the infant upper class!

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