So, cough, I can't really give any kind of coherent plot synopsis for you. But I flipped though it and friends, this is a wacky tale. And I'm thinking I might read it aloud to Julia once we get through a couple more of our 'Little House' books.
'Alice in Wonderland'-ish. Written in 1863, 'The Water-Babies' is considered to be one of the Victorian age classic fairytales, along with 'Peter Pan'.
Ok see the below picture? That's way creepy, yo.
Apparently, it's not an easy read, even though it was written for children. There's supposedly a ton of Victorian moralizing going on in it. Like, be clean. Get baptized. Stay pure. Become educated. Hey, look - Evolution! Whatever you say, Kingsley, but can you please explain what is going on WITH THAT LOBSTER?? (This is all interwoven into the hero's quest through the undersea fairy world.) And there are overt racial, anti-Irish and anti-American putdowns and references. FASCINATING. Oh those pesky Americans.
(um hello. I needs me that 'The Romance of King Arthur' edition that's illustrated by Arthur Rackham, like, YESTERDAY.)
So, has anyone read 'The Water-Babies'? Care to enlighten me further? Did you like it? Was it boring? I care more about whether it's boring than if it's offensive, ha ha ha. Here's a link to an abridged copy that has lots of sprightly reviews of the story, both positive and negative. Amazon describes it as "one of the strangest children's stories ever written."