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PBs: Do Kids Really Get A Message

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The message of a universal connection makes sense, something to keep in the forefront of our minds, though not all kids will relate to every connection we try to make. (I feel safe in saying that.)

SO...another question: why must we always make the MC in PBs the only driving force in solving a problem?

In the case of the traditional Cinderella, she didn't solve the issue; she did, however, illuminate taking the high road in the end. (Good message.) Chicken Little wasn't the one who figured out the sky wasn't falling. It was an apple that bonked him on his noodle, something he had to be told, yet the issue at-hand ended up providing him food to eat. (I get tons of messages from that story, as an adult.) Both old examples, granted.

I'm asking because life is something that sometimes just plain happens (especially for kids!)--and it doesn't happen in a vacuum with tidy endings. They can't always save the universe, but with the help of their friends (or magic or a monster or a....), they can save a little corner of it--or learn how to by examples and/or experience.

What are current examples of PBs where the MC isn't the super-hero who saves the day? (I can't think of one, not that their aren't any----what about Nugget and Fang?)

Maybe I shouldn't try to exercise skills in writing PBs--I like a connection to the real world, even if the MC might be a cloud made of cotton candy who fears dark clouds for threat of being melted by their rain, only to find, that by chance, he was saved through natural circumstance out of his control by the clouds' cover.  :shame

Mmmm. So in the off-the-cuff example above, there's a universal theme (fearing a threat produces angst and confirms your beliefs) and a message (passive circumstances can over-ride a normal, logical threat, we have to learn how to assess a situation).

This hurt my head. I'm over-thinking, I guess. Time for bed.


#31 - March 27, 2015, 06:34 PM
« Last Edit: March 27, 2015, 07:02 PM by Arona »
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Einstein.

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"The hero must solve their problem." One of the cardinal rules of storytelling. That's what makes them the hero.
But solving the problem can mean a realization, rather than a happily ever after. In coming-of-age stories, especially, the "solving" involves coming to terms with how things are, and maybe making peace with this. Not exactly world peace, or world domination, or any other heroic solution.

When you ask why and then mention that in real life etc., I would bring up that other cardinal rule: there has to be a problem to solve in every story. In real life there isn't always, and it's never one problem, anyway. This is storytelling, which is the focused stylized working out our thoughts about various themes.

But yes, I totally get the angst about "rules" in creative endeavors. The perfect following of those rules makes dull stories. You are right that every rule has been broken. I think some will chime in to show how Cinderella was rescued rather than being a heroic problem solver (the modern feminist perspective) while others will say she solved the problem by showing that response to abuse is righteousness and goodness, and that it wins in the end. I will keep mum about how this related to "real life..."  It is a timeless tale of triumph, anyway you slice it.

What I would avoid in PB territory is Mom or Dad or teacher solving the problem, although it reflects real life far better. Even that can be successful when the characters are immensely engaging. (I think of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, with Lilly conquering her inner frustration, but really it was her teacher, Mr. Slinger, who came up with the solution in terms of actions taken) . Kevin Henkes has never been afraid to break rules.
#32 - March 28, 2015, 09:03 AM


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