Saturday, July 26, 2003

Old Turtle

When I was pregnant with Wesley I got rid of the cable and our TV. I didn't want my children's first impressionable childhood years masked by the influences of the television world. My family didn't have a TV reintroduced until Duncan came to live with us, a good ten years later.

We read many books during our TV free period, and we discovered many gems in a sea of childhood stories. I want to share one with you.

Old Turtle is my favourite children's book, although we have also very much enjoyed other books by the same author, Douglas Wood and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel to Old Turtle that will be published this year. Old Turtle won the 1993 Abby Children's Book of the Year award and is beautifully illustrated by Cheng-Khee Chee.

The story of Old Turtle tries to convey some deep wisdom and manages to do so for children and adults. I have even used this book in class presentations at school, reading it to my fellow students in order to spur dialogue about the belief that a certain people(s) hold ownership over or of god(s) to the detriment of another. Old Turtle addresses and attempts to dispel the notions that "my god is the right and only god" and why these ideas can make it so hard for us to live together as a group. Its not a religious book, its more of a story of people from our beginning's when we first searched for stories to explain our meanings and our purpose in life.

Old Turtle's wise voice is heard only in quieting the bitter arguments the animals (and later people) are having about the nature of god.

"But the people forgot... And they began to argue... about who knew god, and who did not; and where god was, and was not; and whether god was, or was not... And often the people misused their powers, and hurt one another. Or killed one another. And they hurt the Earth... because the people could not remember who they were, or where god was. Until one day there came a voice, like the growling of thunder; but as soft as butterfly sneezes, Please, STOP." (My paraphrase).

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