As a fan of G.K. Chesterton and his works I was quite interested to receive The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut. The book is geared towards children to introduce them to the personality and thoughts of this great writer. The personality of Chesterton which is larger than life in the first place fits right into a story for children.
Four chapters tell the story of a young man’s relationship and his adventures of everyday life with his Uncle Chestnut. Where the book succeeds is in describing the real Chesterton’s relationship with children. While he and his wife Francis never had any children of their own he spent plenty of time with children telling stories, putting on puppet shows, and not doubt teaching them his own upside-down perspective of life. His absentmindedness is of course portrayed and of some of the funniest stories about him involve this, such as telegraming his wife asking her where he was suppose to be.
Trying to give a Chestertonian outlook and a book to children is not the easiest task, I think for the most part the book does so in the limited aspects of his thoughts the book uses in the stories. I do like how this is done in a manner that is not artificial and I think that children would learn something from it. The last chapter in this short book was especially good in this regards. The stories do not really address Chesterton love of paradoxes to explain things, though it is understandable in a book of this type. There is certainly Chesterton’s view of looking at things in a different way and to see the seeming ordinary and average as part of the adventure of life.
At the end there is a short biography of G.K. Chesterton along with a couple pages of selected quotes.
The book is written as if Chesterton is living in the present day so there are some references to modern culture used to make the points. As someone who has read much about him along with his writings it was rather disconcerting since I always frame him in the time he lived in. I can certainly recommend this book as an introduction to G.K. Chesterton for children. The problem is once you get them interested what can you have them read of his works? The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton would be a good followup.
One caveat, two spelling errors in the book mar an otherwise good resource. Update: Apparently this was fixed in editions available now.
Thanks for the review!
Thanks to POD technology, the spelling errors were corrected already. Only the first small print run was affected (you can see Amazon’s “Look Inside” preview has a corrected version).
If you order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. you’ll get the corrected one now. If you order from UncleChestnut.com (and get one of the last remaining ones from the first batch), you’ll get a note with your special first printing edition with an apologetic comment that, as Chesterton would say, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”
I’d recommend Tales of the Longbow or The Napoleon of Notting Hill for younger readers, in addition to Nancy Brown’s selection of Father Brown stories.
There will also be more Uncle Chestnut books in the future dealing with other aspects of his perspective and philosophy.
The grammar errors in this post are a distraction to the content. It is particularly ironic that the last sentence talks about two spelling errors!
Sounds like a good book thanks for alerting us to it.
Rickg, your’e right. Hopefully I corrected the worst of it.