Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lisa and Lottie, by Erich Kastner

"Do you happen to know Bohrlaken? I mean the village in the mountains - Bohrlaken on Lake Bohren? Odd - none of the people I ask seem to know Bohrlaken. Maybe Bohrlaken is one of those places known only to people I don't ask. Such things do happen."

Thus begins Lisa and Lottie, by Erich Kastner. You might also know the author's name as he penned Emil and the Detectives, a book I confess not to have read although I have heard a lot about. (Emil was also made into a Disney film in 1964.)

Another reason that the author or the book Lisa and Lottie might be familiar to you is because of a man named Walt Disney who turned this particular story into the following movie:

Recognize it? You and I have gotten to know Susan and Sharon, as played by Hayley Mills back in 1961, as identical twin girls separated in infancy by their parents who divorced shortly after they were born. Susan was raised by her father in California and is the epitome of a West Coast girl. Sharon is raised by her mother in Boston and is part of the East Coast elite. They meet at a summer girls camp and do not get along at all. At least, initially. Once they discover that they really are twins, they decide to switch places so that each girl can get to know the opposite parent. It is their end goal, of course, to get their parents to remarry.

Disney didn't deviate much from the book by Erich Kastner, which was written in 1949. Identical twin girls, Lisa and Lottie, meet at a girl's summer camp. Except in their case, Lisa was raised by her mother in Vienna and Lottie was raised in Munich by her father. Lisa's mother has to work to earn a living for her and her daughter and selects photographs for placement in the local newspaper. Lottie's father is a composer and conductor for the orchestra in Vienna.

I suppose an American audience would have had a hard time connecting to the idea of a Viennese conductor, but they can identify with an American cowboy. It was likely a very wise call on the part of Disney to give Hayley Mills some West Coast flare and some East Coast sensibilities. That we can identify with!

The other notable difference between the book and the movies is the ages of the girls. In the Disneyfied version, the girls are teenagers and in the book they are nine years old. In both versions they dislike each other at first, simply because they happen to look alike. Lisa, having been raised by her father, is more feisty and is the one surrounded by friends at camp. In fact, one of her friends says to Lisa that she ought to "bite of her nose!" in reference to Lottie, which is a line put into the Disney film. As there is not much from the book that is quotable for film, I was glad that they took what they could! Lottie, in turn, is the more demure one who her mother refers to as her "little housekeeper" as she is good with numbers, shopping and general housekeeping skills. Lottie is the thoughtful, clever and kind one.

Reading Lisa and Lottie was really a pleasure as I grew up watching Disney's 1961 version of The Parent Trap. When I discovered that it was a Disney movie based on a book then I knew I simply had to read it. I stuck it on my Amazon wishlist where it sat until my friend Sky kindly removed it and sent it to me in honor of my birthday. I read it last week when I was sick and it made for light, pleasant reading. (And happier still as it came from a friend! Thank you, Sky!)

The book does deal with topics like divorce (just like the movie!) but it's on the light and fluffy side of things. I would say that it is age appropriate for nine years old and up. At 136 pages, it is a fast read for an adult but a good chapter book for younger readers.

In my opinion, Disney did good by this one! I'm impressed and I'm left liking both the book and the movie.

See my list of Books Disney Films are Based On. I hope to read more of them soon!


Stephanie said...

My favorite movie as a girl. I vaguely remember reading the original book as a kid - with the disney-fied cover of course. I bet this was a fun read!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Oh, The Parent Trap is one of my most favorite movies, too! This book does sound like a winner, and I've never heard of it. Thanks, Carrie!

Annette Whipple said...

I was in my twenties (maybe late 20s) when I first saw the movie. Oh, I do like it. The book sounds just as sweet. :) Glad the movie was similar. :)

Queen of Carrots said...

Ha! I had no idea there was a book. I watched that movie a lot when I was a kid.

Litterairy said...

I didn't know there was a book either, although I have read Emil and the Detectives several times and seen both Disney movies (it was one of my grandmother's favorite books).

Diary of an Autodidact said...

I was a fan of the movie as well. It sounds like it was one of the few that actually stayed close to the original. Hayley Mills movies in particular, like the Shirley Temple movies before them, were often significant departures from the source material - the better to feature the lead actress. (In Search of the Castaways comes to mind. Jules Verne didn't write female characters particularly well.)

I agree that using the east coast/west coast theme was a good artistic decision. I am one of the few, however, who would find a Viennese conductor to be an interesting character.

Stephanie Kay said...

I also grew up loving this book!! It was years before I understood that the twins were the same girl. ;) I didn't realize this was based on a book. I vaguely remember watching the made for TV sequels.

Litterairy said...

For the record, my favorite books on which Disney movies were based are Mary Poppins and Mother Carey's Chickens (Summer Magic). The Jungle Books are pretty fun, too. Cora's favorites are The Rescuers and Basil of Baker Street (Great Mouse Detective). Yes, she is very fond of mice.

Barbara H. said...

I hadn't realized "The Parent Trap" was from a book, either, though I should have guessed, as many Disney films were. Interesting! I'm glad he stayed close to the original.

*carrie* said...

So glad you posted this, Carrie. I, like most of the other commenters, had no idea this book existed. Makes me want to read it AND watch the movie again!

BerlinerinPoet said...

Well, that is cool! I loved that movie and had no idea it was a book. Definitely adding that one!

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