Living in a Fantasy World

The Creation of the Two Trees figured in Tolki...

The Creation of the Two Trees figured in Tolkien’s fantasy world, Arda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a little girl called Emmie asked Santa for a magic wand with real magic. And when SolstiChristmaKwanzUkah came and brought only Care Bears, she was quite disappointed and looked under her bed for that wand every day for a year. Because Santa is very busy — especially during SolstiChristmaKwanzUkah — and she was understanding.

So sure was she that such a thing existed, that she waited and waited and waited, hoping that one day, she’d wake up, throw her little feet over the side of the bed, hop down, crouch low, and find something glowing and wondrous among the dust bunnies.

To this day I’ve never found anything under my bed more interesting than dust bunnies — and once a mouse  that stared at me with shiny black eyes before flicking his tale and scurrying away.

But I did discover magic somewhere.

Over the weekend of my grandmother’s funeral, I asked my mother how it was I learned how to read and when exactly it happened. I asked because I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t read. I just remember always doing it.

Blackboard Arts

Blackboard Arts (Photo credit: QUOI Media)

What she did was rather fascinating. We had those refrigerator magnets in the shape of the alphabet, and my mother would spell something out, a simple word like C-A-T. Then she would read it phonetically to me.

And then she’d switch a letter. B-A-T. And she’d have me pronounce that. And then she’d switch a different letter. B-A-M. And then she’d switch a different letter. B-U-M.

It’s in that way that I started recognising words when we’d read. By the time I went to kindergarten, I was reading full books.

In books, I found real magic.

I think it was the only possible logical progression for me to find that writing them could be like having a magic wand. With words I could make anything happen. Anything at all. There could be a pissed off (or pissed on, rather) flower that growled at a dog. There could be space travel and time travel, and later druids and sorcery.

I blame PBS for a lot of my fascination with books. I grew up with Reading Rainbow and later Wishbone, and seeing books come to life was one of my favourite things. I never had trouble losing myself in books, and there were many times in school where I’d look up after my name was called four times to see the entire class standing up ready to do the pledge while I was still reading about Sister Bear and her tree house.

Middle Earth

Middle Earth (Photo credit: Jon McGovern)

In books, the unexpected can happen. In books, you can find out what might ensue if a little girl finds that wand under her bed one morning with a note from Santa saying, “Sorry it’s so late!” You can find out what would happen if a boy put a plastic figurine in a cupboard and it came out a real, live Native American warrior — three inches tall.

In books, the downtrodden can rise up. They can become heroes, like Lewis in the Song of Albion. Unpopular, misunderstood girls can find a place of belonging — sometimes on a faraway planet — like Meg from A Wrinkle in Time.

No matter what happens with the publishing industry, I believe people will always want stories. We all want to hear words woven into magic, to get our turn living in a fantasy world.

What books shaped your views of the world when you were growing up? What showed you your first magic?




About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on November 9, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Definitely science-fiction from Issac Asimov played a big part when I started reading “more adult” books, but everything from Richard Peck was great. I just couldn’t believe some dude could write teenage girl characters! I’d devour stacks of books at a time. All magic. One children’s book that stays in my mind to this day is “The Secret Language” (I wished I had lived at a boarding school so I could attempt making a pie-bed – particularly for those classmates that would bully me!)

  2. LIke you, I don’t remember not being able to read. The universe has always been vast and amazing because I had access to stories.

  3. My grandmother was our town’s first librarian and many happy hours were spent by her side. Apart from that,The Bobbsey Twins introduced adventure and my brother’s comic books were magic! Back in the day, kids would go from door to door in our small town with their wagon loaded with comics to trade. The very special “keepers”, of course remained at home to be treasured. I might add that there was no need for parents to be hovering in the background. Kids just did it. No one had to worry. Sigh …

    • The Bobbsey Twins! I read those — and Nancy Drew, and The Boxcar Children. I think I related to The Boxcar Children because I was very poor too, ha.

      Even when I was a kid living in not the best part of town, we all pretty much ran free on our bikes and stuff. And then when we moved to Montana, I had a whole wilderness to explore. I miss that. Now it’s dump trucks and clanging all the time. City life is so loud.

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