We’re stretching our definition of multicultural just this once to include the imaginary worlds that offer so much creative solace to young children in difficult straits. In Julia Glass’ 2006 novel The Whole World Over, Greenie and Alan are parents of a precocious 4-year-old, George. Set in 2001 as the couple weather a serious marital crisis, the story moves from New York City and Maine to a ranch outside Santa Fe, and back, and throughout, the estranged parents each read to George. Wherever he is, the ritual of choosing from among his treasured favorite books (often subtly appropriate for his immediate situation) gives him security and stability.
Glass even folds a review of Owl at Home into her novel. Greenie is reading to George:
He leaned against her for all five tales, which related the neurotically foolish mishaps of a character who was a literalist yet also a romantic. In Greenie’s favorite, Owl made himself a pot of tear-water tea by thinking up, laboriously, as many sad things as he could: chairs with broken legs, forgotten songs, clocks that had stopped, mornings that no one witnessed because everyone was sleeping. More than sad, they were invisible, neglected, or simply lost to memory.
What better book for a little boy whose mother has just driven across the country from Santa Fe to reconcile with her husband in the intense confusion following 9-11?
Other books read to George in the novel include the Dr. Seuss books and… (more…)