One of the excellent things about having kids is that sometimes you'll come upon them in their rooms and find them decked out in crazy clothes, by themselves, having what is clearly a meaningful experience on another plane.
Such was the case last week. There was a whole get-up, and dramatically spoken words that I didn't quite make out from the hallway, and when I walked in, I saw a person in an action stance.
I tried to play it cool. "Hi. So…what's going on?"
"I'm playing Freedom Maze."
"And instead of one girl over there, I'm pretending it's three sisters, and they all have to go to different places, and…."
This is what I love about…well, about the world. The Freedom Maze is a Norton- and Prometheus-award-winning novel by Delia Sherman (and full disclosure: Dear FAA, I found out about it from her wife, Ellen Kushner, whom I met at a dinner party and who subsequently had the publisher send me the book FREE. Which was excellent). It's about a white girl in 1960s Louisiana who goes to stay with an aunt and through the workings of a mischievous imp/fairy/spirit type creature gets transported back to slavery times, where her dark tan and curly hair get her classified as a slave. Things ensue.
It was snatched from the coffee table by small hands, read, and liked. OK, I thought. She liked it.
And then I saw it being read again. And again. And then it appeared in the bathroom, which is HIGHEST praise.
Or what I thought was highest praise, until I found the child in question inside the book.
What is it about certain books that create a world that a child can then inhabit in their own version of the story? Is that not the coolest thing in the world? Why does everyone has to be a Spy like Harriet when they read that book? There were YEARS of kids playing Harry Potter on the playground because—well because it was fun. There was even a protracted period of Warriors playing, with warring factions of various cats.
I wonder what it is in a book that gives it that power, that makes it a place you can enter with your own crazy story? Do any of you have this happening in your houses?