OBSCURA Volume 28 / Spring & Summer 2020 “Let’s See Wonder Through a Child’s Eyes.” Cowrice/ All Things Bright and Beautiful /Kaneko Misuzu
“It’s only with the heart one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
—— The Little Prince
Highlighted stories include:
1. A NIGHT CAMPING IN THE WILD / COWRICE
Our story Rests in Dad’s memory Narrated by our Little Girl Illustrated by our Older Girl And filled in with colors by Mom Our story is Created by all of us.
Let’s dive into the dreamy fairyland with our Little Girl as Alice The mysterious black triangle on the grass What do you see? What do I see? Only with adventures, can the story be told. Only with imagination, can the fantasy be seen.
Our story takes place at night while camping in the wild. The picture on top is reality, while the bottom shows the imaginary world in our Little Girl’s head.
2. SLOW DOWN, LOOK AROUND. / ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL
The renowned psychologist Carl Jung once mentioned the concept of the inner child in hisMemories, Dreams, Reflections. Every individual has a childlike aspect hidden underneath, which is a bridge for us to be connected to our past. While recollecting our experience and emotion during childhood, we can also grow into a more mature person and fulfill ourselves. For adults, reading picture books is a process to regain the forgotten curiosity, creativity, imagination, and their most genuine emotions. “On a Magical Do-Nothing Dayis a book by the Italian illustrator Beatrice Alemagna that I like a lot. It is a story about a little girl who goes to a cabin in the woods with her mother. It is raining outside, so the girl lies on the sofa to play video games. Her mother, who is working, suggests her to go out for a walk. Then she goes into the woods but accidentally drops her game console into a lake. This accident turns out to be the beginning of her adventure in the woods where she discovers many interesting things during her exploration. This story is about how doing nothing can be creative too. All you need to do is to stay curious about nature,” says Ah Li. The book narrates a story of a little girl discovering in the woods a sense of pure and beautiful joy that can never be given to her by a game console. This is as if reminding adult readers of us being excited and moved by getting to know the world as a child. Joanne says, “Some picture books have only simple and unrefined drawings, they don’t even have text. Even so, they can really move their readers.Sidewalk Flowersis a picture book written by the Canadian writer JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Sydney Smith. It depicts the story of a little girl taking a walk with her father. Along the greyish streets, unfriendly passers-by, and uninteresting cityscape, she sees a lot of pretty flowers. She collects the flowers and gives them to the dead bird, a person taking a nap in the park, a dog she sees, as well as her mother. The plot is simple but poetic. I can feel vividly the innocence of the girl. I am deeply moved every time when reading the book.” Children’s picture books are somehow like the twinkling stars in the sky. There is always one of the planets up in the sky that could be somewhere you would like to reside. Hopping from one planet to another like the Little Prince, with our innocence and inner child guiding us through our journey, we would never get lost in the vast galaxy.
3. THE PUREST CHILDLIKE POETRY /KANEKO MISUZU
When you read Kaneko’s poems, not only can you feel the immense beauty of nature and the Universe, but you can also see the wonder of everything with a child’s vision.
4. POETRY, SEEDS, AND MAGIC /MOSSES
Phaedrus:I have the impression that it is mostly adults who enjoy reading picture books. Sometimes this makes me wonder if children actually like picture books at all. Are adults the real target readers of picture books?
Wong Sze Chit:The trigger for me to start reading picture books was my daughter. Children like bedtime stories, this was the reason for me to buy my first picture book. But it didn’t go well at the beginning, because what I like is not what she likes, while what she likes is kind of boring to me. Adults and children interpret picture books in rather distinctive ways.
Nathan:Same for me. I felt the same when taking care of my brother, who is fifteen years younger. I once heard a saying, that children can recognize the facial features of monkeys. They can tell them apart even with the subtlest difference. This is something adults are incapable of. Children do not really look for a bedtime story that is perfectly complete, rather, they like to ask their parents to repeat and repeat the part that they like before going to bed. I began to wonder if children don’t really see things as repetitive as adults would do? I think the same logic also applies to look at pictures.
Phaedrus:Sounds like adults can never truly understand children?
Nathan:Indeed. Not even the authors of picture books. The authors are adults, while the readers are children. The authors, as adults, can never control or predict how children would interpret their stories.
Wong Sze Chit:To put it another way, if the authors are adults, no matter how hard they try to write a simple story, it is unavoidable for the stories to be influenced by the personal experience of the authors. Therefore, when adults read a picture book, they can actually enjoy it as if it were written for adults.
Phaedrus:This may sound a little sad — no matter how hard adults try, they can never see things from the children’s perspective or thoroughly experience the impossible charm of picture books.
Nathan:I guess it is not possible for us to know how children feel, as we have already forgotten how to feel things that way.
Wong Sze Chit:To put it in another way, can we enjoy the childlike excitement of going out with our family again? Even if you know that feeling, there is no way for you to truly relive that feeling.
Nathan:It is not about trying to be a child once again, it is about rethinking the process of us growing up. All adults were once children. For adults, reading picture books can be a soothing process.
Wong Sze Chit:To me, it is a process of realization. We come to understand not only our memories, but also our perceptions of everything during childhood. Realization is an essential process. We need to take a step back to recognize who we were. Picture books, to children, are like a seed. This seed can be in the form of an image or a short passage that plants something for the growth of a person. On the other hand, picture books are like magic to adults; they remind us of how we used to perceive things as children. They help us recall what we once possessed but got forgotten.