Archive | February 2016

Modern Stories

“Close you eyes and tap your heels together three times.
And think to yourself, there’s no place like home.”
Glinda the Good Witch of the South, “The Wizard of Oz”,  L. Frank Baum

 And as Dorothy did, she journeyed back to the farm. This week we’ll take a look at three modern tales as we discover in each instance how the characters journeyed from where they were to where they went.

Oh, the meanness of it all!
That beast whose heart was two sizes too small,
And do you know his miserable plan?
He plotted to steal the day of goodwill towards man!
But, he was foiled
(And lucky for us)

For the Grinch learned the true meaning of Christmas

Because it can’t be bought or sold
It lives in the heart of young and old
And with his changed heart the Grinch became new
You see, his heart three times grew!

                                                                                                                                                                                                             Yahoo image 7.20.12

The journey that the Grinch took was from meanness to kindness in Dr. Seuss’ beloved fable How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Thank you, Ted, for the lesson.

Carol McCloud learned about invisible buckets because she was fortunate enough to have adults and children in her life that filled hers with love and kindness, hope and optimism. Carol wrote Have You Filled a Bucket Today? as a testimony to those bucket fillers who add to everyone’s invisible bucket and as a warning to those bucket dippers who take away from our buckets. The journey is a discovery of how to add to our self-image. Thank you, Carol, for a beautiful story.


The hand that gives and receives a kiss takes a mother’s love and protection wherever a child goes. Chester Raccoon learned this beautiful lesson from Mrs. Raccoon in Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand. Even as Chester was reluctant about leaving her, this simple concept gave him the peace of mind and confidence to do the thing he did not want to do. Audrey, thanks to you, a mother’s hand will never be  the same.

We can journey with our children to learn lessons on where we are and where we can be thanks to modern classic stories.

Next week, I’ll ask the question why connect as we visit with Pooh. Thanks for taking the journey.

Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.

Famous Stories

There is no harm in a man’s cub.”
—Rudyard Kipling, “The Jungle Book”, Mowgli’s Brothers

The animals realize Mowgli won’t harm them. As a child lost in the jungle and brought up by understanding wolves, he keeps his innocence. What charms us about this story is that the animals act human, too. As we journey through life, we turn out to be something we weren’t before.

Famous classic stories are examples of how to become. . . smarter than adults, changed in appearance and true to yourself.

Leave it to Princess Lenore who asked for the moon and got it on her own terms. Neither the wizard nor the lord chamberlain could solve the problem and not the mathematician either. It was the jester who was wise enough to listen to a child and then used her logic to solve the problem. And when the moon appeared in the sky the following night, Lenore took it in stride that it grew back in the sky, just like a flower or a tooth in Many Moons.

The big creature ran away. Away from a biter and from others and even from his own family. No one understood. Few were kind. Until one spring day he saw his reflection in the water. And the duckling was ugly no more. Finally, he belonged.

Pretending to be something you are not does not pay. At some point, you will be found out as the fable A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing tells.

The wolf had a few sheep for his meal until what he did to the sheep was done to him! He could have saved his life if only he stayed true.

Adults and children alike can relate to these stories because they show how we solve problems and make mistakes and that leads to how we grow wiser and find our place in the world.

The next time I’ll talk about how modern stories lead us on life’s journey. I hope to hear from you.

Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.

Modern Children’s Writers Who Use Metaphor


The Great Lion heard us mention him last week and has decided to follow us to more modern times. I’m so grateful! This week, I’ll mention two beloved children’s writers and a newcomer who all use metaphor.    

“And That Was That . . .” Theodor Geisel was a master poet who loved chaos and made sense of it in a unique way. He wrote The Cat in the Hat using rhyme to help children learn to read. Reading primers was boring. Ted Geisel changed that. The Cat was his personalization of an elevator operator who wore white gloves and had a sly smile. But not only that, the character of the Cat was a metaphor of himself, someone who waltzed into a child’s world with crazy mixed up images—and who always tidied up at the end.                

Uncle Shelby beautifully illustrated how a Tree hugged her Boy and loved him as a mother in Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. She gave him apples, and she gave him branches, and she gave him her trunk, and finally she gave him what was left of her: her stump. “And the Tree was happy.”

A man among mice, Kevin Henkes, understands a child’s feelings. That’s why he wrote and illustrated Wemberly Worried, the story of a child mouse who worried about starting nursery school and how she would fit in. In a child’s mind, mice are people, too.

All three writers are illustrators, an added benefit since each can show his vision of the story without hiring another artist to interpret it. And all three spin their magic to explain solutions to problems.

Next time, I’ll comment on famous stories and what they teach.

Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.

Classic Children’s Writers Who Use Metaphor

“To begin with, they have a perfection of form that none of the others achieved . . .”

                        —Hans Christian Andersen: A Great Life in Brief by Rumer Godden

Think of the classic writers we know: Rudyard Kipling, P. L. Travers, J. R. R. Tolkien and Walt Disney.

Sorry, kidding! Walt didn’t write. He illustrated.

Three have given us stories so timeless that centuries later, they take us where they are by our just thinking of them.

Diego Velasquez, Aesop. jpgWikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“The Mouse said [to the Lion] . . . if you will let me go, perhaps I can help you some day… Remembering his promise, the Mouse began to gnaw the ropes of a net until the Lion could get free . . .” Aesop is credited to have told or wrote this fable. Since then, whenever we see animals together big and small, we think “how precious!”

Hans Christian Andersen

My favorite writer must have been influenced by the fables.
A statue of his character looks out of the harbor in Copenhagen. “It was very late; yet the little mermaid could not take her eyes from the ship or from the beautiful prince”, Hans Christian Andersen wrote, “. . . when the ship parted, she had seen him sink into the deep waves . . . But he must not die. . . . and he would have died had not the little mermaid come to his assistance . . . The mermaid kissed his high, smooth forehead, and stroked back his wet hair; he seemed to her like the marble statue in her little garden, and she kissed him again, and wished that he might live. . . .”

Andersen was a master storyteller who spun magical worlds that became real for his audience and always stayed in their minds because he knew how to bring his vision to life.

And remember last week I said we would be visiting with Aslan, Lion-hero of Narnia? Well, his “dad” was an Oxford Medieval English literature professor-turned-philosopher.
The voice of Aslan was tender in Prince Caspian.

George Sayer’s biography Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis

“But please, Miss Prizzle, “said Gwendolen, “there’s a LION!” . . .”You’ll stay with us, sweetheart?” said Aslan. “Oh, may I? Thank you, thank you,” said Gwendolen. . . .

All three writers wrote lessons that endure. Why? They wrote about truth. They just wrapped it around magic, that’s all! See? Aslan beckons us and we have to follow, indeed are compelled to, because we want the magic. It makes all the difference. That is why we turn the page.

Who are your favorite classic writers? How do they make you feel?

I look forward to hearing from you. Until next week when we visit with modern writers, stay enchanted.

Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.