May 24, 2013

A Touch of Whimsy

A book I read this last week encouraged parents to find their children's passion and encourage them in expressing it. I have known for a long time that my daughter loves performance and creation of all kinds, and one afternoon I struck the mother lode: stories.

I have the portfolio edition of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg (author of Jumanji & The Polar Express books that inspired the movies). Each picture is thought-provoking in some way, and there's just a single line caption under each picture. While I rested one afternoon, I showed Zoe a picture and asked her to tell me the story. The plot has holes and the character development is nowhere, but oh, the creativity... It has already become a regular activity for us, whether there's a picture in front of us or not. She has made up stories about creature power suits (a la PBS's Wild Kratts), garbage cans, wandering Kodiak bears, missing harps, and (this morning) her watering can that's molded in the shape of a rubber duckie.

This morning's interest was heightened greatly: an older cousin is currently in art school and wants to be a children's book illustrator. When she heard that my girl loves to make up stories, S encouraged us to write some of them down and send them to her so she could do illustrations for them.

Story #1 has been sent off this morning (it was a mother-daughter collaboration); I feel confident that storytelling will remain in our family line for at least another generation.

Big Duck Red Polka-Dotted Orange Yellow Duck's Birthday (Title)
by Z Lightning & S Stanley

Once upon a time there was a watering can duck named Big Duck Red Polka-Dotted Orange Yellow Duck (his mistress insisted on giving him an absurdly long name; it's a wonder anyone ever remembered it!). Today was his 85th birthday. He was made of recycled plastic, which is why he was so new, but so old at the same time. He had four legs instead of two so he wouldn't tip over.

Z Lightning (his mistress) told Big Duck Red Polka-Dotted Orange Yellow Duck that it was almost time for his birthday. Then, he went to open his presents. Z Lightning gave him all his presents—and there were a lot! One was another watering can duck, a pretty one who looked like him. Big Duck Red Polka-Dotted Orange Yellow Duck decided to name it Blanket. The next present he opened was a cow watering can. “I'm sensing a theme to these presents,” he murmured. He decided to name the cow watering can The Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon. “That is a good name!” said the cow. The cow looked kind of like Big Duck Red Polka-Dotted Orange Yellow Duck because he was a floating cow like Big Duck was a floating duck. Two presents were left to open. One was a frog watering can. When the paper was torn from the last gift, there was a pig watering can! They were all watering cans! He named the frog watering can Picture and the pig watering can, he named T.V. Computer.

When Big Duck Red Polka-Dotted Orange Yellow Duck saw all of his presents, he wanted to see them water his garden for him while he played supervisor. His garden had tomatoes, carrots to crunch on, and (the shortest thing growing in the garden) a T.V. that showed up there by accident. He sometimes watched cartoons on it. His presents watered the garden, and when they were done, they went back into the house and went downstairs to play. All five watering cans flapped their wings to get downstairs—well, all except the frog, who jumped from puddle to puddle and stair to stair to reach the basement. Picture jumped SO high that his head hit the ceiling! But he didn't get hurt. No blood and no band-aids. The last time he jumped, he hit his head so hard that it hurt him enough to need a band-aid. Forgot the cake. They ate cake. The End

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