I have a theory that the world is a place of light and the dark only exists to remind us of what an abundantly beautiful world we live in. Like a game of peek-a-boo teaches babies about the idea of permanence; disease, death, sickness, trial and tribulation exist to make us stop and take stock of what we have and who we love.
We get accustomed to the light and therefore it looks a little dimmer. It’s why we have night, so we can recognize morning.
This is some heady stuff for children to absorb so we present these fables in fairy tales, giving them the taste of the grim in fantasy so they aren’t overwhelmed in reality.
The truth is many of us “adults” don’t really appreciate the darkness and how it snaps us out of our funk and back to the fantastic. Sometimes I think it’s like we want to teach our children that there are no bad things out there and shelter them for as long as we can.
I’ll put my hand up and say: “Guilty!”
I want everything in my daughters lives to be bright and so when I bought the book Singing Away the Dark by Caroline Woodward and illustrated by Julie Morstad (ISBN: 9781897476413, Simply Read Books, 2010) as an intriguing and indie published book, I didn’t dream of reading it to my kids.
I didn’t want to read them a story about a little girl walking ALONE miles in the snow and dark to get to school! I mean HELLOOOOOO! She’s six!
What about child abductors and hidden snow banks that would swallow unsuspecting little children whole? What about those teenagers with bangs that cover their eyes, clad in baggy clothes and black eyeliner that steal their parents Peach Schnapps and drink it unceremoniously in the woods until dawn where they run into a little girl on the way to school?
Yes, I am the same writer who said that I truly believe the world is good and bright and beautiful but I am a mother now and I do unfortunately watch the news, so I am a teeny bit paranoid about my OWN girls!
But the beautiful thing about my theory is that it works. I read this book, to my children, and my two-year-old absolutely adored it (my 2-month-old didn’t really comment)!
She loved the simplicity of the story and the spookiness of the shadows in the woods. I feel like she could feel the biting crispness of a winter’s morning and the magic of singing your fears away. Miss Mouse loved the rhyming text and the spooky silhouettes.
I love that this story is a memory (and that it involves no Amber alerts, ruffians or unruly teenagers) and that the little girl is able to find a positive way to face her fears and I adore that.
Singing Away the Dark was inspired by Woodward’s own first years of going to school, walking the mile from her home to where she would catch the bus. I can’t imagine attending a two-room school in as she did not do nor can I envision having to move into a dormitory to complete high school. I’m sure she’s thankful she did as that’s where her writing career began, writing a weekly column for the Alaska Highway News.
Since then Woodward has lived many lives in one as author of fiction for adults and children, a poet, a mother, a former bookseller, world traveller, publisher and a lighthouse assistant (and this is just some of her accomplishments).
Learn more about her from her website, you will be as amazed as I was!
Morstad’s darling illustrations keep the writer delightfully in the past with their old-time charms and simple lines. I love the two round circles on the cheeks and the watercolour images. I really want to purchase one of her gorgeous prints “How to Make a Kite” from her shop off her website.
This burst of light would brighten any bookshelf and save you the trouble of making up your own “I walked a mile to school in the snow….” stories!