Fun. So much fun. I giggled to myself, even.
I quite adored Short Stories for Little Monsters, by Marie-Louise Gay. I felt like little snippets of my childhood kept popping up in her book of super short stories for children. Each story is one spread so the story is new with the flip of a page.
Let’s start with the Charles Schulz/Charlie Brown homage. I might be projecting, but I don’t actually think so. The opening, adorably drawn panel is of a boy in a striped shirt dragging his little blonde sister around. She’s trying to convince him she can see amazing things with her eyes closed.
“You can’t see anything with your eyes closed. Can you walk faster?” The boy says to her.
My first thought was: I can hear Charlie Brown talking. Practical, bored, endlessly frustrated.
My impression was reinforced in a later story, set in classroom of children of sitting in tidy rows, all avoiding the teacher’s question. She asks Marcie if Marcie knows the answer. Marcie does not. Of course, in Charlie Brown lore, Marcie is the smart one.
There are other tucked away references that might just be my own bias. But near the end, there is a tiny tree saying: “I can’t stand it.”
Charlie Brown definitely says that. Google says so. I watched clips of little cartoony Charlie Brown saying it.
Anyway, even if I’m wrong, children’s books should be left to the interpretation of the adults being forced to read them. And I’m happy with mine, as if I’ve discovered a secret.
Another favourite spread: ‘Lies My Mother Told Me’. Yes. I have heard every single one. The most oft repeated: carrots are good for your eyes. Amazingly, I didn’t figure out how problematic myth this was for years, even when forced to wear glasses at age 10. How do parents universally come up with the same fictions to tell their children? Is it a vast parental conspiracy? How can it not be?
Marie-Louise Gay appeared at Events 41 (Best in the Biz) and 58 (Encouraging Creativity in Kids) at the 2017 Vancouver Writers Festival.