Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Side note on "Happy Feet"

It pained me a little to link to that image of Happy Feet in the post below, since I have an unreasonable prejudice against that movie.

I haven't seen it. I don't even want to, it makes me so annoyed. See, ever since I heard the premise of the story--young penguin can't sing like all the other penguins, so he tap-dances instead--I KNEW they ripped it off from one of my all-time favorite children's books, The Trumpet of the Swan. In which a young swan who can't sing like all the other swans (or even talk) learns to play the trumpet like Louis Armstrong instead. "Why is no one complaining about this?" I said to myself. "Stupid people don't know about E.B. White...."

This similarity (aka rip-off) now rates a mention on Happy Feet's wikipedia page, but I'm still dissatisfied. I grind my teeth to think that somewhere, at this very moment, there is a kid reading The Trumpet of the Swan for the first time and dismissing it as "Oh, this is just like Happy Feet."

I got obsessed with Trumpet of the Swan at the same time I was obsessed with ballet and Swan Lake, which started me on a collection of china and glass swans that now gathers dust on our living-room mantelpiece. It also gave me my first stirrings of ecological awareness, with the theme that the mighty Trumpeter Swan is endangered and needs protection. What's more, it's hilarious, in a way that doesn't just appeal to kids. I still enjoy rereading it.

Oh, and also? I'm so attached to my old copy of Trumpet of the Swan that I am ALSO unreasonably annoyed that they commissioned new illustrations for it a few years ago. What was wrong with the originals, which the author presumably approved?!

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