Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Richard Scarry and the gorillas.

Kids are sponges--they soak up everything around them, both the good and the bad, and then they try to make sense of it.

When I was a boy in the 1970s, I remember hearing on the radio that guerrillas had fought their way into South Viet Nam and were threatening the capitol, Saigon.  At the time, the Planet of the Apes movies were very popular, and there was even a TV show. 

Hearing 'guerrillas' on the radio, I thought 'gorillas.'  So in my kid logic, I pictured armed gorillas invading some distant city and killing everyone.  Soon I had nightmares of gorillas on horseback attacking my hometown and shooting people when they tried to escape.  Scary stuff.

However, I also received a book that year as a gift.  A Golden Book by Richard Scarry titled BEST STORY BOOK EVER.  BEST was filled with 72 stories of animals, usually dressed in clothes, doing all sorts of useful, helpful things.

Animals playing instruments in an orchestra.  A fire department crewed entirely by pigs, with detailed drawings of their equipment.  A dog named Couscous who was a police detective in Algeria.  All kinds of amazing stories, but not one where gorillas massacred people.

Pretty soon I either forgot about the gorillas in Viet Nam, or maybe I figured out the news meant people.  Either way, the nightmares departed and I moved on to bigger worries, like the threat of nuclear war. 

So remember when you're around your kids or your grandkids or anyone small, they watch and listen and soak up everything around them.  Don't give them fuel for nightmares.  Instead, open a Richard Scarry book and feed their imaginations.

(I referred to my old copy of BEST, which includes stories by Richard Scarry and his wife, Patricia Scarry, plus Ole Risom, and Kathryn Jackson.  You can read a wiki about Scarry here, or an article in PCMagazine here.  The pic is from my bookshelf.)

(If you liked this article, please support my writing by purchasing one of my novels.  Thank you!)

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