Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thoughts on Children's Fiction

This week's post is copied from the wonderful Mockingbird Blog, to which I am a sometime contributor. The original post can be found HERE, and it is written by my friend Sarah Richey:

I was reminded recently of the wonderful children's book, The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. For those of you who haven't read it in a while, it's about a little bunny who decides to run away.

He tells his mother, "I am running away," and she replies, "If you run away, I will run after you. For you are my little bunny." So the little bunny schemes, "If you run after me, I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you." And the mother never hesitates, "If you become a fish... I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you." And it goes on, and the little bunny becomes a bird, and a crocus, and a sailboat...and the mother becomes a tree, and a gardener, and the wind, and so on, always finding her little bunny. In short, it's brilliant! I'm no connoisseur of children's books, but I can't think of one that better describes our relationship to God. We run away, and he becomes like us to bring us back to him.

So, reading the Runaway Bunny reminded me of another favorite and classic children's book, The Little Engine That Could. Just thinking about it makes me feel nostalgic; the little bright blue engine, the colorful vintage pictures of the dolls, toys, the clown, the candy!

But flipping through it, I realized that now its message is lost on me. "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..." conjured up uneasy memories of self-esteem workshops in middle school and a stressful feeling that I should ditch this post and get back to studying for an exam. It seems that life is just a little too real for the Little Engine for the thoughts occupying my head are less often "I think I can, I think I can" and more "Why didn't I?" or "No, I guess I couldn't". The pictures are fun, but I fear that I may have read the Little Engine a few too many times, and the Runaway Bunny not enough.

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