File puptcrit/puptcrit.0904, message 224

Date: Wed, 15 Apr 2009 22:06:05 -0400
Subject: [Puptcrit]  Talking Animals

I apologize that my submission did not appear yesterday. Sometimes 
this technology gets the better of me. I=B9ll try once again even 
though many have mentioned the same things since.


Alice wrote . . .

>Dear All--
>In reference  to the joys of anthropomorphism, . . .  The upshot 
>was, he told me that his grandmother had told him children's stories 
>should never have talking animals in them. (The story involves a 
>bear, a fish, an old woman, and a jester. They all talk, and the 
>bear is the
>main character.) This teacher asked me if I could just change the story a
>little so that all the talking and plot manipulation could involve the old
>woman and the jester, so that the bear wouldn't have to talk -- never mind the

Dear Alice,

Stick to your guns.  An illustrator should NOT dictate to you or any 
writer about what s/he puts in his/her story.  He  is NOT the 
illustrator for you no matter how talented he may be. He is hiding 
behind his grandmother's skirts to dictate his own ignorance or bias.

Obviously he never heard the fairy tale of the Fisherman and his 
Wife, or Aesop's Fables, or my favorite Wind in the Willows by 
Kenneth Graham, perhaps the greatest book in the English language! 
And Winnie the Pooh, the sweetest,  gentlest anthropomorphism ever 
created. I love Eyeore and his Birthday. A. A. Milne captures the 
innocent spirit of children. What would his grandmother say about 
Roald Dahl=B9s James and the Giant Peach with talking spiders, 
grasshoppers and worms. Or again Dahl=B9s Fantastic Mr. Fox about a fox 
family  trying to survive and outsmart a disgusting nose picking 
farmer that  shows children the fox family =8Cs point of view.=A0

Literature is rich with talking animals.  What school of literature 
did his grandmother attain her degree? My literature teacher, Dorothy 
McKenzie of Los Angeles State University in C alifornia  would 
heartily disagree with her. She was one of the leading children 
literature expert in her day, God rest her soul!

Your story reminded me of one I worked on and collaborated with many 
years ago with a friend.  Bob Bromley wrote a beautiful story of a 
true experience he had while working in the Cirque  Madrid in Paris, 
Hector and the Ballerina.   It was NOT written  for children but as 
one chapter in a book of his memoirs.

Bob Bromley created a  ballerina marionette that rode a large Belgian 
Horse. Allthough by most standards the ballerina was a large puppet. 
But in contrast to the huge work horse in contrast the puppet 
appeared little.  It was strung through pulleys from above. The 
puppet leaped on the back of the horse and rode around the center 
ring. It was a very big success which surprised the audience and 
brought much applause.

A popular clown was  angry that a marionette was usurping his lime 
light. In his frustration the clown dressed as the ballerina one day 
and jumped on the back of the horse and frightened it.  That 
resulted in the horse kicking the clown and injuring him badly.

Now Bob asked a young artist friend of mine to illustrate the story. 
But the young man refused unless Bob changed the story and eliminated 
the clown being mean or injured.  He wanted to impose his perceptions 
that clowns should be friendly onto the story which would change the 
entire purpose, rendering Bob=B9s experience invalid.  Of course Bob 
was incensed and that illustrator was never used.

Bob passed away in 1982.  A few years later I sent the story to the 
Puppetry Journal and it was printed.  It is a perfect story just the 
way it is and it really happened.  Bob=B9s truth was NOT altered.

My lesson learned was that the author should have faith in his own 
work and determination to see its value. Illustrators may be talented 
but are NOT the creators  of the story unless it is their story. If 
authors listened to illustrators or anyone else for that matter, 
think of the vast amount of literature that would not exist today. 
Think of what we have lost without even knowing.

Charles, Tinker Taylor
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