Friday, January 8, 2010

Dreaming with your Eyes Wide Open

Okay, I’m a little late with this (I know I’ve already mentioned I have a problem with that), but Katherine Paterson, a hero of mine and many others, was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature at the Library of Congress on Tuesday: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/05/AR2010010503666.html

The Wide-Awake PrincessIn honor of her, I want to share another picture book about a dreamer, but this one’s just a little different. In The Wide-Awake Princess, Miranda is accused of daydreaming by her nurse, and Paterson makes it clear Miranda is doing the opposite of daydreaming; she is “wide awake with wonder.” Miranda is a princess who was given the gift of being wide awake all her waking hours by her fairy godmother when she was a baby. The people around her are not awake at all; they are self-absorbed and inattentive to the world around them. When her parents die, three nobles take charge, telling her she is not fit to be queen. Miranda, however, is convinced she can learn to be queen, and sets out to do just that.

Miranda has vision. She is tuned in to the world around her, and can see things as they are. More than that, though, she can see that the way things are is all wrong, and she is able to imagine both the world made right and a way to right it. And right there is why I think Miranda actually fits into the dreamer category—vision and imagination. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language lists three possible meanings in its definition of “dreamer”, the first two being “1. One that dreams.", and "2. a. A visionary. b. An idealist.” Dreaming is great as a pastime, but it can be so much more than that.  Imagination by itself is a good and right thing, but it is also necessary for creating, for leading, for making change. Miranda is certainly not lost in her daydreams, but I think she’s a fine example of a dreamer, and I think this book is a superb book for other dreamers.

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