“There is no such thing as fantasy unrelated to reality.” ~ Maurice Sendak
Looking back upon my girlhood self, what I can recall most was my hunger for imagination — so, naturally, books became my food.
Books were made from the same substance of dreams, I was sure. They were clouds of creation and color, with moods and creatures and characters to adore. They were companions and friends with worn out pages that mimicked hands, reaching out for mine. Whether I was happy or sad, courageous or afraid, I’d take comfort in knowing I could step back in, anywhere, in any place, at any time.
Hence, there is magic in children’s books, and I’ve been chasing that magic ever since.
One may think that reading children’s books as an adult is rubbish, yet it’s quite the opposite. Leaving such wise books to childhood is actually a mistake, because when you don’t revisit your children’s book, you forget some of the deep existential truths residing in the words.
Picking up a children’s book is also like seeing an old friend — both hold up a mirror so you can see yourself as you are: the same. Yes, you’re the same as you’ve always been, dear child: a being shaped of wonder and dreams, wandering about, bright-eyed and in love with this world.
“Your head is a living forest filled with songbirds.” ~ e.e. cummings
Here are a few classics, forever untouched by the hands of time:
“If you are kind to helpless things,
you don’t need a Wishing Tree to make things come true.” ~ William Faulkner, The Wishing Tree
“Here is my secret. It is very simple:
It is only with the heart that once can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ Antoine De Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.” ~ Roald Dahl, The Twits
“‘Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’
You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.” ~ E.B. White, Charlotte’s Webb
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.
You find the fun, and the job’s a game.” ~ P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins
“And it’s no use to go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
“And Max, the king of all wild things,
was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him, best of all.” ~ Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things are
“‘Sometimes,’ said Pooh,
‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.’” ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
“‘I don’t need very much now.’ said the boy.
Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.’
‘Well’ said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could.
‘Well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, boy, sit down and rest.’
And the tree was happy.” ~ Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree
“‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily or heave sharp edges or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. ~ Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.
If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” ~ Lewis Carroll, Through The Looking Glass
“The Rainbow Fish shared his scales left and right.
And the more he gave away, the more delighted he became.
When the water around him filled with glimmering scales,
he at last felt at home among the other fish.” ~ Marcus Pfister, The Rainbow Fish
“‘You have plenty of courage, I am sure,’ answered Oz. ‘All you need is confidence in yourself.
There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger.
The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.” ~ Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over
to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you,
you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
~ Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
“The moment where you doubt you can fly,
you cease for ever being able to do it.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Peter and Wendy
~ A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go,
So be sure when you step.
Step with great tact
and remember that life’s
a great balancing act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft
And never mix up your right with your left.” ~ Dr. Seuss, Oh,The Places You’ll Go!
~ Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. ‘Pooh?’ he whispered.
‘Nothing,’ said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand.
‘I just wanted to be sure of you.’ ~ A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
~ Sam McBratney, Guess how much I love you
So maybe the next time we go browsing though a bookstore in search of some sweet soul comfort, we should bypass the endless self-help sections, and make a beeline to the corner where the children’s books reside.
It’s much sweeter there.