01 May 2013
Day 98 / 102 - Cosette
While I was eagerly waiting for the recent movie version of Les Misérables to be released on DVD, I dusted off an old copy of the soundtrack that I had from when I saw the Broadway Tour in the early '90s. Instantly, my daughter fell in love with the music, (who wouldn't ??) and therefore became quite interested in Les Mis.
She was struck by the song Castle on a Cloud, which is sung by Cosette as a child. Even after hearing the very brief song once, she asked me the child's story. I explained to her that Cosette didn't have a father, and that her mother tried to provide for her financially, but couldn't. As a result, her mother sent her to live with an innkeeper and his wife where she was mistreated and abused. She had to work very hard at the inn, even as a young child. Fortunately, as the story progresses, Cosette is rescued and adopted by the protagonist of the story, Jean Valjean.
My daughter then made two statements to me which I thought were very profound. First, she stated "As I hear this song, I can picture this girl staring out the window watching children play while she has to work. Is that what is happening?" If you are unfamiliar with the musical, the answer is YES. That is exactly what is happening. Secondly, she asked "Was this book written about the same time as Oliver Twist, because it sounds like Oliver and Cosette have a lot in common?" Ummmm, again...YES.
She asked if she could watch the movie, and I explained to her not yet. She is too young. However, I bought her an illustrated and adapted version of the book. Miraculously, some publisher managed to take all 1500 pages and condense them into less than 200. She read it in a day.
Honestly, I don't even remember when she read an adapted version of Oliver Twist. It must have been a couple years ago. When she finished Les Misérables we talked about some other similarities between Oliver and Cosette. Here are a few ideas she mentioned:
- Their mothers both died
- Neither had a father
- When they were young they had to work for the people who were raising them, and these people treated them badly
- They both lived in Europe during the 19th Century (we looked at a map and located both France and England)
- People seemed to have much harder lives at that time
- Both were given a second chance and were adopted by people who love them
Then, to make this even more fun, my daughter decided her Lanie American Girl doll would make the best Cosette, so she whipped up a dress and headband for her out of fabric scraps, and made the mop out of a stick and yarn (pictured above). Over the past two weeks, I wasn't planning on a Les Misérables unit study, but we accomplished just that. The famous illustration of Cosette from the original novel is pictured below.
This is a rather long post, but I wanted to end with one thought. Jesse Wise Bauer, author of the Well-Trained Mind (one of very few homeschooling books that I highly recommend and consult regularly) maintains that introducing children to adapted classics is a good idea, because then they grow to love the stories and are not intimidated by the original works when they are older. I could not agree more.