“Where flowers put forth a stranger hue and everything was strange and new…”
When Donna first put up the idea of discussing juvenile fiction on the blog, I had a million ideas.
But, as usual, none of them seemed strong enough or interesting enough to other people to blog about. So, I took it upon myself to ask my friends about their favorite juvenile fiction. Then I noticed something.
The responses I got from my peers (don’t even ask an age range-let’s just say over 30 and leave it at that!) were of fond memories and strong emotions. When asked their eyes would take on a faraway look, they would smile wistfully before telling me how Black Beauty launched a lifetime love of horses, how Harold and Purple Crayon amazed them, how The Giving Tree stunned them when they realized the vast extent of love. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys played a role in future career paths and A Winkle in Time started a lifetime love affair with science fiction. Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie and Last of the Mohicans were noted for showing slices of life my friends as children could explore and the memories of this exploration still cling to them as they go about their lives even now.
I myself was catapulted back to a time of discovery and simple joys.
Then I asked my kids and their friends….well, that went over like a led ballon.
“Uh, I don’t know.” “I don’t really remember what I read.” “Hunger Games or Harry Potter, I guess. They made really good movies…”
What! What! Really!
Yes, yes, I’ve read the statics and heard the news reports, “Too much visual stimulation at too early of an age, video games to violent and loud, losing the imagination at an alarming rate.”
But the children I know are great in school, well behaved, polite, intelligent!
Then a terrible thought dawned on me.
They can’t hear it anymore. They can’t hear the Piper’s call.
At the end of the poem, Robert Browning, implied the children who followed the Piper didn’t die, but instead became a tribe of gypsies who could be found still wearing the Piper’s red and gold signature clothes, but looking very Germanic with blond hair. They might have grown up happy and adventurous, instead of dull and stuck.
It is this image I choose as my blog metaphor today. When my friends and I were young, the Pied Piper of Reading came for us and led us away to wondrous places with unimaginable joy. We didn’t get stuck in a dark cave, but instead we explored our strange lands and returned with our own red and gold scarves which we still hold onto as sacred souvenirs.
And I think the Piper still plays. He plays through all the wonderful books for the young that are still being written today.
But I wonder why so many of our children can’t seem to hear the music of his pipe.