Saturday, July 01, 2006

rich details vs. imagination

"Children's literature isn't what it used to be." stated Mr. Tea, in his matter-of-fact tone of voice. "not all books, Mr. Tea" said the Lemonades, "we still have great writers who haven't lost the essence and purpose of these books, there's no need to generalize!"

The Chronicles of Narnia
, Alice in Wonderland (and Through the Looking Glass) & the Little Prince, are some of the most famous and loved children's books, but yet when you actually read them as an adult, you discover that they lack in detail: they set the scene and introduce the characters and describe everything that's going on beautifully, but don't really go into tiny miniscule details like who sat where on which side of what table! The whole battle sequence in the Whitch, the Lion & the Wardrobe was told in just a page and after the actual war was over. These kinds of books challenged our imaginations, made us create worlds in our heads filled with what we wanted them to be filled with (Turkish delights and all!).

Today's children books are filled with details, so filled with them that you have forums and discussions on the net scrutinizing the movie version for not using the correct shade of red in the curtains of a specific scene! It is that crazy!

Just to make one point clear, I am not discussing the stories or styles of writings here, or defending/trashing certain books/authors. I'm just pointing out that in a world were we have so many things that can inspire us and spark our imaginations, we also have lots of distractions (for children & adults alike) which I think is eating away the realm of imagination.

So should children's books be less detailed and contain less illustrations to entice the children's imaginations?? Are extremely detailed books only the tip of the 'imagination killers' iceberg?? (or are they completely unrelated to them?)


TV, DVDs, the lack of reading, the way houses are built in Amman (with minimum gardens & tiny sidewalks) and how the concept of parks and proper playareas is nonexistent - all these factors are imagination killers & restrictors. I remember spending hours and hours with my classic Lego blocks (the days before the rainbow colored bricks and the pirates and castles editions) and still managing to create worlds where pyramids were built and dragons were slain. I remember my mother reading encyclopedias to me as a child (hence my early obsession with archeology and the seven wonders of the world) challenging me to figure out how little people like us built such mammoth wonders, and encouraging me to draw them by imagining how they looked before the were demolished or destroyed.

I see how shallow some (and I emphasize the SOME here, I am writing based on my own experiences and not based on statistics) children are nowadays, how they lack the depth in vision and imagination that we had as kids and which I can still see in my friends today {nini Mervy}. Seeing kids sitting endless hours in front of TV with useless uneducational programs and teenagers who've never lifted the front cover of a non-school related book really hurts.

I am a Harry Potter fan, and enjoy reading the books, hating the villains and cheering our heroes, but what I hate from the bottom of my heart is unoriginality. Unoriginality alone is probably half of "Imagination Killers"! How many books are now filling the shelves of bookstores about magic and dragons and spells and kids with powers? How many books have the words "better than the Da Vinci Code" embossed and embellished on their front covers? How many more Superhero movies will they make? Will they stop at SpiderMan 3, 8 or 11?

Is 'copying a winning formula' the new winning formula??
{why does this feel like a line from Sex & the City??}

"...and how faraway from the title topic have we drifted, my Lemonades?"

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