Some Thoughts on the Stories We Tell Children

October 19, 2014 § 6 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about children’s literature because I have lately found myself in the business of evaluating a large number of children’s films. Never mind the circumstances, because what’s on my mind at the moment is the meaning imparted by children’s literature, or, more generally, the art we make for children.

Two instances, not quite formed into ideas, are what I want to share with you here, in the hopes that sharing helps me to understand them better:

– I read a review online of a classic children’s book by an adult man. He looked very serious in his picture. The book is known for its chaotic, whimsical spirit of adventure and its bold, nonconformist girl hero. The reviewer did not understand why the book was so popular. He said that it did not represent the values he wanted to teach to his children. I wondered what it would be like to grow up to be the humorless adult in a children’s story, if that fate befalls many of us, and if reading the story as a child would save you from it.

– I watched a remarkable short animation, The New Species. In this film, three children discover a mysterious bone in the ground. They come up with wild fantasies of the bone’s origin, of what part of an animal could have produced it, and their disparate theories combine to make an improbable beast who hovers over their heads for the remainder of the film. They show the bone to adults but the adults are unimpressed, telling them to get on with their homework and chores. They search books and museums and eventually find themselves at the office of a paleontologist, who promptly analyzes the specimen and finds that it matches nothing he has seen before. He gives it back to the children, who, disenchanted, return it to the hole in the ground. As they walk away, the “camera” pans below the earth to reveal the vast skeleton of an unknown animal. « Read the rest of this entry »


My Thoughts Are About to Short-Circuit

July 9, 2014 § 2 Comments


You can't unsee this.

I’m sorry, Crab-Flower Club. I’m sorry, everybody. These things happen.

I had this amazing realization watching a TNG episode. Starfleet… Sailor Senshi… eh? Eh? « Read the rest of this entry »

Absolute Destiny: Apocalypse

July 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Since it’s “my introduction to anime” week at The Crab-Flower Club (fittingly so, since a shared enthusiasm for anime is how this group came about), I thought I’d contribute my own installment.

When it comes to anime, I was never a real omnivore. Some years back, in college, I would watch an animated film here or there as an effort to extend my love of comics and movies outward— two great tastes!— but my attempts were scattershot and halfhearted. Then one day I happened to see a certain book on the manga shelf at the comics store— this was before the Tokyopop boom, so it was indeed just the one shelf, occupied chiefly by a seemingly endless march of Lone Wolf and Cub.

The book that held my attention was Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. 1: To Till; the cover, a girl in a tailored uniform holding a sword surrounded by rose petals. The title and image promised something: revolution? I was mainlining radical feminist texts in those days, so I thought I knew something about what that meant.

utena-cover-photo « Read the rest of this entry »