Monday, October 3, 2011

Ban the Butterflies!

We don’t need any more children’s books about seasons changing or caterpillars turning into butterflies.

That was the gist of a blog post I read recently. And I think I get what this guy is saying—that children’s writers could try looking around for some new material. And I agree.

Sort of.

But I can’t help thinking that if you get jaded to the miracle of changing seasons or of earthbound worms sprouting wings, maybe you shouldn’t write for children. Maybe you shouldn’t write for anybody. 

The cycle of the seasons and the metamorphosis of caterpillars both echo the theme of death and resurrection at the heart of the Master Story, the story at the root of all stories. Death and Resurrection are the climax of the mythic hero’s journey, as described by Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey. Over and over we die to an old way of life--or an old way of thinking--and we are reborn into a new awareness, a new understanding.

May I never cease to be amazed by simple things. Like soap bubbles. Or dandelion fluff. Or spider webs. Or snow. May I never stop seeing the numinous in the ordinary. May I never forget that all beans are magic beans. Or in the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God.”

So maybe we don’t need more original subject matter--just new ways of telling the “old, old story.” We need a fresh voice, a fresh slant, a fresh pair of eyes.

And now that I think about it, we need more books about seasons and butterflies. Lots more.

EPILOGUE: a question for my readers--both of you.

What simple, everyday things fill you with wonder and awe?


  1. I absolutely love this entry! I've been told by several people that I show them how to enjoy the simple, small things in life.

    Like finding a woolly bear caterpillar and pondering the winter ahead. Does he know that we look to him for the forecast? Do they have little woolly bear meetings at the end of spring to discuss upcoming climate changes and the effects that they will have on their wardrobe?

    Or getting flour on my hands- it always fills me with glee and a feeling of rebellion. I know I'm not supposed to stick my whole hand in the flour jar- but I do it anyway, just to feel the texture.

    I love staring up at the night sky at all of the stars. My favorite constellation is Orion and this is a great time of the year to spot it. I do this every workday morning on my way to my car. To think that the light from those stars has traveled all this way just to be captured by my eyes... It gives me chills.

    I think we need lots more books about butterflies and seasons. As adults we can become jaded to such things, but future children will still feel wonder about them.

  2. The warmth of the cold winter sun coming through the window as you gaze upon a cold stark snow filled landscape.

    The warmth of a friends hand on the back of your neck when you are working on a sticky problem.

    The summer nights dance of a million fireflies as they float upward over and over in a salute to the creator.

    A drop of rain on my eyeglasses as it makes a personal rainbow in my eye

    The smell of the air after a rain shower in the desert, a promise of life.