Theories about Anne Frank and Lis Sladen

The fact is, children see death and horror differently from us.

I was profoundly saddened by Lis Sladen’s death – she was an icon of my childhood and brought me and dudelet together in our first common enthusiasm. I think Dudelet was also upset but he dealt with it in his own inimitable way.

“Will they get someone else to play Sarah-Jane?”

“No, I shouldn’t think so. I hope not.”


It evidently continued to prey on his mind as the following day, he showed up at 7am at the foot of our bed and announced,

“I know why they can’t get another Sarah-Jane!”

“Why?” we asked, dozily.

“Because they’d have to go back and edit all the old episodes. And then they’d have to go into all the shops and change all the DVDs. And they’d have to go round everyone’s homes and take all the old DVDs and replace them with the ones with the new Sarah-Jane and people wouldn’t like that.”

I lay there imagining hordes of BBC meninblack swarming across the country re-writing television history in such an apocalyptic, Stalinist way and had to agree. People really wouldn’t like it. It sounded like something Michael Gove would come up with.

He also shared his notions about Anne Frank after catching glimpse of a book cover in a shop window.

“Oh look! Anne Frank!”

“Yes – do you know who she was?”


“What do you know?”

“Well, she hid from the Germans in Holland and they marched up and down outside her window in their big helmets with wings on.”

(Wings on?)

“What happened then?”

“Then she had to hide from them.”

I mentally begin to review the explanation of the Holocaust I’ve been saving for a moment like this.

“And then they caught her.”

“They caught her?”

“Yes. Someone betrayed her and the Germans, well, the Nazis, the German Nazis that is, took her away.”

I wondered if this was a good moment to explain concentration camps and the Nazis but dudelet interrupted.

“There’s another theory – I think she was standing by the window and they saw her.”

I think I’ll try and tackle it later. Is seven too young to explain genocide?


About Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

Writing, reading, listening, parenting... On Twitter as @dadwhowrites. View all posts by Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

16 responses to “Theories about Anne Frank and Lis Sladen

  • charlotteotter

    I like his theories! On the subject of genocide, we’re following the example of the Germans who only tackle it around Grade 8. So my kids know about the war, about Hitler, that he was bad, but they have no idea of the extent. I’m happy to keep it that way for now.

  • Nikkii

    Yeah – bit young.

    If your schools cover history anything like up here he’ll be an expert on WWII by the time he’s 14 – it’s covered with a fine tooth comb. Which saddens me a bit since WWI is worthy of a mention and oh I dunno – Romans? Egyptians? Feudal Britain? The Industrial Revolution?

    They’d be good.

    Just a thought…

    • dadwhowrites

      Dudelet tells me they started this year with the Great Fire of London as their theme. But there’s always (see above or below) Horrible Histories! I think they’ve done something on the Romans too – but it’s a bit London-centric. Mind you, covering London properly covers a lot of ground.

  • Ally

    Well, you have given me an insight into what I can expect next year when Princi moves into year 2. Maybe now’s the time to break out the history books. Though saying that, her vocabulary has expanded enormously this year, sending me to the dictionary to look words up! Now, all I have to do is teach her how to spell the myriad mouthfuls of new words she’s sent home with…

    • dadwhowrites

      Well, at least they don’t get too offended by being corrected at this age. The real history books he reads, of course, are the peerless Horrible Histories.

      • Ally

        Yep, Princi adores Horrible Histories too. She did ask me to buy some ‘real’ history books a few months ago, so she’s got two history encyclopaedias next to her bed. Unfortunately, they haven’t been as interesting as the science encyclopaedia, which she held above her head and screamed ‘Now I have all the knowledge! HAHAHAHA!’ when I gave it to her!

  • dbs

    Wow. She’s a smart one. My suggestion is this: let her ask the questions.

  • frogpondsrock

    Far too young. My mum gave me the best advice ever, she said just answer the questions they ask. It has worked brilliantly for me, there is plenty of time for discussions about genocide and all the other horrid stuff when they are older. 🙂

  • J

    I’m with Frogpondsrock on the solution to the age question, and I pink puffy heart Ally’s Princi for the love of knowledge. Too funny, too cute, too perfect.

    Regarding Dr. Who, I’ve never seen it, though I hear it’s genius and I’m foolish.

    Regarding Anne Frank, I think I first read her book when I was 12 or so. I knew about the holocaust, but hadn’t for too long. It’s a lot to explain to a little child. I think I’d wait until the questions come. Probably school will get to it before you do, but they can be the ones to bring it up, and you can put your own family values on it when you talk about it at home.

    • dadwhowrites

      Doctor Who! Where to start?

      It occurred to me this morning, reading your comments, that one of the key points is that they just haven’t internalised enough sadness at this age.

      • J

        That right there is a blessing, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve read about horrors happening to small children, toddlers, and have felt very glad that there’s no frame of reference for explaining it to my child. Now she’s 15 and learning about it, and comes home and we talk about it, but I don’t have to worry about whether I’ve scarred her by telling her too soon.

      • dadwhowrites

        Yes, totally. God, they’re growing so fast.

  • Jessica - This is Worthwhile

    Not to make light of genocide, obviously, but if Dudelet has ever seen the Clone Wars it could be a gateway chat without overloading him. You know, “Remember when the bad guy made all those clones to kill all the Jedis? Hitler was a lot like that bad man.” I mean, I can see myself having a similar conversation with my son. I’ve yet to figure out how to explain to him WHY Darth Vader wants to rule the galaxy, though. “Low self-esteem and an inflated sense of ego” doesn’t seem to go over very well.

    • dadwhowrites

      Knowing Dudelet, I can see how that conversation might go…
      Does Darth Vader really want to rule the galaxy, though? Isn’t more of a desperate wish to gain his father’s approval tied up with the classic Freudian urge to kill his father? Hence the attachment to both Obi Wan and the Emperor? #armchair #psychobabble

  • Selina Kingston

    How weird! This is the second blog I have visited where I’m sure I left a message and yet….nothing! Anwyay, I came to say I’m missing you a bit but instead I’ll say again that I too loved Elizabeth Sladen when I was growing up and marvelled at how good she looked when she returned as Sarah-Jane. Anyway, the original comment was much more amusing but I can’t remember it now ……

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