Saturday, January 13, 2007

Kubla really can

Just found this essay after rooting around in the Poetry Foundation website. I even commented. We found Nick Bantock's popup book of Kubla Khan many years ago. What was so excellent about this book was that the popup took away some of the ghastliness of the story of Kubla. The dark images really do unfold the story, the wrecked world and the popup both shows that, and make it palatable, because kids like popups. Kids miss themes that they don't know or understand. If they do sense something awry, they question. Parents answer. If kids can ask and verbalize then they are ready for the answer. The demon lover slipped under my son's radar when he was young but huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail totally took him in. This poem worked really well, because the sound, the rhyme worked to fascinate him.

I wonder how the kids would view this book now that they are older. I might have to dig it out.

ETA: All of kid's literature is full of sadism and doom, a very long history, but I am not sure that is so bad if it is handled correctly by the parents. Little red riding hood and other stories are certainly filled with that. Now that my daughter is entering her teenage years, the stories she can find are filled with so much horror, death, anorexia and doom, or whatever other fill in the blank issue of the month could be. I do filter what my kids read, but if it is done well and well written, that buffers them from the horror. Like Kubla I think. I agree about the Giving Tree. I find that more irksome than most kid's stories because the ending has absolutely no joy, doesn't lift life at all. Working through the horror needs to be the starting point, not the ending.

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