Category Archives: Saturday Seven

Characters Who Would Have Made Great Dads

After publishing a similar list for characters who would have made great moms in a Saturday Seven post last month, I simply had to repeat the idea for male characters now that Father’s Day is nearly here.  If the Saturday Seven meme was still around, this is what I would have written for it for this week.

Like I said last month, in no way do I think having kids is the right decision for every person, fictional or otherwise. I’m happily childfree myself, but I still wonder how the lives of these characters would have changed if they could have become fathers.

Some of the people on this list died before they were old enough to have children. Others simply never found the right time to become a dad. All of them would have been good at it if the circumstances in their lives had been different, though.

1. Fred Weasley from the Harry Potter series.

Fred and his twin brother George provided a lot of the comic relief in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories. They were intelligent, mischievous and energetic teens who embraced the playful side of life.

While their antics irritated Professor McGonagall and many of the other adults in their lives at times, I think a grown-up version of Fred would have made an excellent father. He spent his entire lifetime soaking up every bit of joy he could find in the world.

Any child would have been lucky to grow up with such a positive role model in life, especially if they inherited his rambunctious and needed to be shown how to use that energy without annoying the more proper members of wizarding society too much.

2. Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series.

Wizards in the Potterverse generally live much longer than humans do. Dumbledore seemed to spend most of his adulthood focusing on his career. I completely understand why someone would want to do that, but a small part of me does wonder what his life would have been like if he’d found a nice man to settle down with and raise a few children.

If he could protect and help to educate hundreds of teenagers at work for all of the years he was at Hogwarts, I’d like to think he’d be just as patient with a few baby wizards at home.

3. Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

One of the things I occasionally like to do when my spouse is in a quiet mood is ask him questions about parts of classic science fiction and fantasy novels that were never really explained by the original authors.

For example, I spent lost of time talking to him about the Ents in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series this past spring and winter. Where did the Entwives go? Will the Ents ever find them again? How did Ents reproduce? When did or will the last Ent die? The more I thought about this species, the more questions I had about all of the parts of their lives that weren’t revealed by the plot.

My newest obsession with this series these days has to do with the wizards. There were so few of them that I never got a strong sense of how their society worked when they weren’t fighting against Sauron. The legends about them made them seem bigger than life. I’m not even entirely sure that a wizard could have a child if he wanted one, but I do think Gandalf would have had the patience and love needed to be a good dad if he could.

I mean, he did come to care about the hobbits quite a bit, and they were about as un-wizard-like as a mortal creature could be.

4. Bilbo Baggins from Lord of the Rings.

Unlike the wizards in this series, I do know for sure that hobbits could reproduce. They didn’t seem to do it as often as humans do on average, but I think Bilbo would have made a good dad if he’d been one of the members of his people who decided to go down that route.

He loved food, music, and dancing. Storytelling was important to him, too. I’ve never met a child who didn’t find happiness in at least one of those activities, especially if their parents raise them to enjoy the simple things in life.

Also, just think of all of the stories he could tell his children about his adventures traveling to and back from the Lonely Mountain.

5. Shepherd Book from the Firefly television show and graphic novels.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Firefly, it followed the motley crew of a space ship whose members included a sex worker, fugitives, former soldiers from a failed revolution, and other folks who lived on the margins of society.  The cargo they shipped was often stolen or illegal.

Yet they also had a Shepherd – or what we’d call a pastor – travelling with them. He lived with people whose values were radically different from his own, and he loved them all the same.

If every father had the same sort of unconditional love and acceptance for his children, our world would be a far better place.

6. Jonas from Lois Lowry’s The Giver.

The concept of parenthood – and marriage, for that matter –  in this universe wasn’t the same as you or I think of it. Jonas was born into a highly regimented society where your spouse would be selected for you based on your personalities and interests. When a couple felt ready to become parents, they applied to a committee for a baby.

The members of this society who created the children were never the same ones who raised them. Once a year, all of the healthy babies born over the last twelve months would be given to families who had been waiting for an infant. It was a cold, efficient process that I only wish had been explained in greater detail.

Due to all of this, it came as a surprise to me to see just how paternal Jonas was as a 12-year-old boy. His family was temporarily assigned to care an infant whose fate was still up in the air, and Jonas bonded with that baby quickly.

7. Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

(Some of the Star Trek novels were about this character. I say that’s enough to count him on this list).

When I first started watching TNG, I wondered if Captain Picard was childfree as opposed to childless. He wasn’t the sort of person who would coo over a baby, for example, and he seemed to relish sticking to the same routine each day. His demanding but rewarding job was the focus of his life. There was precious little time for anything else.

There were a few subtle hints about this character’s regrets in life later on in the series, though. “The Inner Light” showed him experiencing 40 years of life on a planet that was about to be destroyed by a nova. His four decades of experiences there included him becoming a father and grandfather.

This was a side of Captain Picard I’d never seen before. As confused as he was by how he’d managed to slip away from his current life as the captain of the Enterprise, he genuinely loved his family. Their safety and happiness meant the world to him. It was in those scenes that I realized just how much this character would have loved to have the chance to raise a child or two of his own if he could meet the right woman who was also willing to let his career take precedence over where they lived and how often they moved.

That’s a lot to ask of someone. I understand why no one ever took him up on that offer, but I also think he would have been a doting dad if his circumstances had been different.

Which of your favourite male characters do you wish could have had the chance to be someone’s father?

Saturday Seven: Characters Who Would Have Made Great Moms

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

 

Happy Mother’s Day! In honour of this holiday, today I wanted to talk about characters who never got the chance to be mothers but who would have done an excellent job at it if they did.

Some characters are childless or childfree because that’s what they genuinely wanted out of life, and I completely respect that. There have been other characters, though, that ended up not having kids for a variety of reasons that could have changed if the plot had turned out to have a slightly different arc to it.

A couple of the people on this list died far too early in life to become parents. Others simply had other things going on for them during their childbearing years. If I wrote fanfics, I’d tweak those endings so I could see what their lives would have been like if this wasn’t the case. Every person on this list would have been a loving parent if she’d had the chance to do so.

 

1. Prof. Mcgonagall from the Harry Potter series.

I’d like to think that her potential children would have been much less mischievous than all of the Weasley boys she had to deal with as a professor. Even if her kids did turn out to be rambunctious, at least she would have known how to react to them thanks to the many years of practice she had keeping the Weasleys from hurting themselves too badly during their adventures at school.

2. Beth March from Little Women.

Beth was a quiet and often painfully shy girl who had a heart of gold. I can’t think of any character more generous or loving than she was. Her sisters amused me in this story, but Beth was the one who truly touched my heart. There was an earnestness about her that made me wish she could have had a long and happy life.

She would have made a doting mother, especially for a child who might have developed the same kind of severe anxiety issues that Beth had to deal with.

3. Helen Burns from Jane Eyre.

Helen was a sweet, patient orphan-friend of Jane’s who died from tuberculosis when they were young. She kept such a calm and hopeful demeanour no matter what was happening around her.

I was so upset when this character died. She was honestly someone I thought might live to see radical improvements in the way orphans – and especially chronically ill orphans –  were treated in the 1800s.

4. Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series.

She handled her sometimes-rowdy class so beautifully that I have no doubt she would have been wonderful at raising a much smaller number of children full-time.

5. Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager.

Fair Use Rationale: This image is being used as a visual identification of Captain Janeway.

Yes, I know this is a TV show, but there are hundreds of Star Trek novels that have been written about this universe. Some of them are specifically about this ship and captain, so I’ve decided that Janeway counts for the purposes of this list. LOL.

One of the things I liked the most about her was how much serious effort she put into making the right decision for her crew even if it wasn’t the easiest decision for Janeway herself. It takes a strong person to make that choice over and over again, but protecting people who count on you is exactly what being a parent is all about.

6. Aunt Josephine from the Anne of Green Gables series.

Honestly, the world needs more parents – and adults in general –  who remember what it felt like to be a misunderstood kid. One of my favorite things about Aunt Josephine in this series was how easy it was for her to recall life when she was Anne Shirley’s age. Being around two playful preteens made this character revisit her own childhood in the best possible way. In a different timeline, Aunt Josephine would have had the opportunity to do the same thing with her own children.

7. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.

Scout was such a compassionate girl. She would have been an excellent role model if she’d had children when she grew up.

Which of your favourite characters do you wish could have been mothers?

Saturday Seven: What to Read Next If You Loved The Handmaid’s Tale

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

As those of you who follow me on social media have no doubt already noticed, I’m a huge fan of The Handmaid’s Tale.   I first read this Margaret Atwood book when I was in high school, and I loved it from the opening sentence:

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.

Offred’s descriptions of what it was like to live in an abandoned school and why a group of young, fertile women had been enslaved in the first place captured my imagination. There was grief, loneliness, and pain etched into every thought this protagonist had even before I had any idea what was going on with the characters or setting.

The writers for the TV show based on this novel have done a superb job of fleshing out the storyline so far. While I’m waiting to see the next episode of this show, I’ve been thinking about books that have similar social justice themes and writing styles to this one. If you enjoyedThe Handmaid’s Tale, you might like these titles as well.

1. The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence.

I’m tentatively planning to talk about Margaret Laurence’s work again this summer in a Canadian-themed Saturday Seven post, but I had to include her in this list as well. The main character of this book was someone whose choices in life were severely limited due to abuse, poverty, and being born into a society that had pretty limited empathy or help available for women who found themselves in difficult circumstances.

I should warn you that Hagar wasn’t an easy character to like at times. Her harsh life had shaped her into someone who could be abrasive under certain circumstances, but I still saw glimpses of the young, hopeful girl she’d once been no matter how difficult she was to love at the end of her life.

2. The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist.

Fertile women in The Handmaid’s Tale were forced to bear children for powerful infertile couples. Characters in The Unit were forced to donate their organs to strangers even if doing so lead to their immediate deaths. Both groups of people were simultaneously shunned for “sinning” against the impossibly-strict rules of their societies while also being told their suffering was worth it for the greater good of humanity.

3. The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper.

If you can only read one book from this list, make it this one. Fertility was controlled in The Gate to Women’s Country just as strictly as it was in The Handmaid’s Tale. The difference between the two lies in how well women are treated otherwise, who raises the children they conceive, and how (un)aware they are of what is really happening to their bodies.

4. The Fire-Dwellers by Margaret Laurence.

I read this so long ago that I’ve forgotten a lot of it. I feel compelled to reread it again soon. What I remember the most about it was the fact that two people could remember the same event so differently. There’s no doubt in my mind that Offred’s account of what happened to her wouldn’t be the same as the men who drafted the laws that made all sorts of human rights violations legal or the wives of the high-ranking members of The Republic of Gilead who ignored the abuse of women like Offred because of how much they stood to gain from the arrangement.

This isn’t to say that any of the supporting characters in The Fire-Dwellers are violent like the ones in The Handmaid’s Tale, only that empathy isn’t a skill everyone develops in life. Such a lack of empathy can show up in both small and profoundly serious ways.

5. Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler.

Honestly, I could have listed many of Ms. Butler’s books here. The things she had to say about prejudice, how power can be horribly misused, and what happens when one group of people oppresses another over a long period of time fit in beautifully with the themes in The Handmaid’s Tale.

6. He, She, It by Marge Piercy.

This book didn’t arrive from the library in time for me to read it before this post went live, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the main character handles a custody dispute that’s mentioned in the blurb. It reminded me of how Offred pined for her daughter after they were ripped away from each other.

7. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields.

Once again, this book hasn’t arrived from the library yet. I like the idea of a female character telling stories about her life that are typically the sorts of things someone wouldn’t talk about. While this narrator had a much happier and safer life than Offred did, there were still parts of it she regretted at the end. I think there’s something to be said for talking about those things openly sometimes instead of hiding them.

How many of my readers are fans of The Handmaid’s Tale? Do you enjoy books about social justice in general?

Saturday Seven: My Favourite Langston Hughes Poems

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

 As I mentioned several weeks ago, once a month I’ll use a Saturday Seven post to talk about a poet that I like. Emily Dickinson was the poet I talked about in March, and Langston Hughes is my choice for April.

Langston Hughes was one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, and he also invented an entirely new style of poetry called jazz poetry that has influenced generations of writers and other creative folks.

His writing style was conversational. The poems he wrote often sounded like something friends might say to each other over a cup of coffee or while playing cards.

I also love the fact that he wrote about black, working class people, a portion of the population that was generally ignored altogether by literary circles when he was alive.

Since Mr. Hughes lived until 1967, the copyrights on his poems have not yet expired. I’ll be sharing brief excerpts from them and then linking to a site where you can read the entire poem.

1. From Harlem:

What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
My name is Johnson—
Madam Alberta K.
The Madam stands for business.
I’m smart that way.
3. From Mother to Son:
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
I looked and saw
the man they called the Law.
Oh, I wish that yesterday,
Yesterday was today.
Yesterday you was here.
Today you gone away.
Babies and gin and church
And women and Sunday
All mixed with dimes and
Dollars and clean spittoons
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
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Saturday Seven: Classic Novels I’ve Never Read

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Reading has always been one of my greatest joys in life. I’ve developed a real knack for finding things to read no matter where I go, and I’ve been known to read just about anything to pass the time. When I was a kid, I even read the phone book for the sheer fun of it! (Do phone books even still exist? I haven’t seen one in many years).

There are still countless books out there that I haven’t read yet. This includes plenty of classic novels, so today’s list is dedicated to all of the classics that I haven’t gotten around to picking up yet. Maybe someday I’ll make the time to read them. I’ve heard plenty of good things about everything on the list below, I just haven’t tried them for myself yet.

 

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
  3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
  4. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.
  5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
  6. On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
  7. My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass.

What classic novels have you never read?

Saturday Seven: Books That Might Give You Cravings

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. I’m a pretty quiet person in real life. One of the topics that I always like to talk about with anyone who is interested, though, is food. For example, I might ask you what your favourite food is or talk about a delicious meal I made… Read More

Saturday Seven: Humorous Book Titles

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Disclaimer: I haven’t read any of these books yet, so I can’t vouch for their content in any way. I’m sharing them only because their titles are eye-catching and made me giggle when I found them. 1. Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley. 2. HELP! A… Read More

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Saturday Seven: Rabbit Tales

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Happy Easter to everyone who is celebrating that holiday this weekend! Rabbits are the first thing I think about when Easter comes to mind, so I thought I’d talk about them today. Since rabbits are my favourite animal of all time, it always makes me happy… Read More

Saturday Seven: Books with Green Covers

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I was originally planning to make this post about Irish books that I’ve read and loved, but it turned out that I couldn’t think of enough of them to fill out a Saturday Seven list on this topic. My goal for next… Read More