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When I was just five years old my best friend lived half a block away. We both had older siblings and made it our mission to do anything and everything they did. That included having sleepovers. The first time we tried, though, with Cricket at my house, she woke screaming in the middle of the night. Through her sobs we figured out that she had wakened, seen a white robe hanging on the back of the door, and thought it was a ghost. Even with the lights on and the robe examined, she was convinced there was a ghost in the room. After a phone call Dad carried her home to safety. Of course we had countless sleepovers after that without incident.
This experience reminds me that the power of imagination, which we encourage and celebrate, can also work against us. A few years later, when we moved to a home with a stairway landing, my own imagination gave me some trouble. As a "morning" person I never resisted going to bed early, but it took my own superpowers to allow me to do so without asking for help. I was convinced that once the stairs disappeared from sight beyond the landing, night creatures were hiding in the walls and could reach out to grab me as I passed in the dark.
Ta-Da! I solved this my deciding that they were small creatures, so I could stay safely centered on the stairs, just out of reach from either side! I can't say I wasn't afraid anymore, but I no longer felt helpless. There were things I could do (and believe) that allowed me to reach my goal.
|Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2011|
SUPERHERO JOE, by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman, drawn by Ron Barrett, offers readers a similar example of how imagination can be both an enemy and a friend.
I see this book as serving a very specific purpose: empowering those kids who, by their nature, experience anxiety/fear out of proportion to reality. While there are plenty of kids who are scary-brave in their approach to life, there are many others who limit themselves through their own imagination. In a culture that requires responsible adults to be watchful and convey concerns to kids, it's no wonder some see danger at every turn.
Weitzman and Barrett have tapped into this mentality with tongue-in-cheek humor, providing a model of a boy who harnesses his inner super powers to conquer his everyday fears.
To celebrate my first blogiversary, I'm giving away a copy of SUPERHERO JOE. You can enter by commenting on this post, on titles/authors you'd like to read about in the year ahead, or even sharing a time when your own imagination worked against you.
- Enter by leaving a comment below or on the contact page.
- Winner's mailing address must be in the US.
- Provide an email or twitter contact, or watch for winner's name to be announced here and on twitter. (@PBWorkshop)
- Deadline- Friday, January 11, 11:00 PM CST. Winner will be announced on Saturday.