Friday, February 15
by Michele Lemieux
Kids Can Press 1999
I love the serendipity of libraries. Yes, there is a lot of order, a lot of things in their proper place, but what they provide is the opportunity to discover something you never knew you were looking for.
Like this book.
On a stormy night a girl goes to bed but is unable to sleep. "I can't sleep! Too many questions are buzzing through my head." Indeed, in short order our restless narrator is wondering where infinity ends and what you would find on the other side of a hole in the universe. Over the course of the 240 pages deep philosophical questions -- the kinds kids ask -- are mingled with the offbeat and occasionally silly, one to a page facing a black and while illustration. This is no light read, nor is it an intimidating romp through some of the deeper inquiries about life on earth.
It also provides no answers, just whimisical illustrations to match the question at hand. For example, "And hell -- does it exist?" is matched with a peek at the top of the stairs down into a basement where the shadows of familiar items take on the ominous appearance of demons. as the storm rages through the night the questions get darker, but as morning comes, with the light come the bigger, more open questions -- What of we could live forever, and know all of life's mysteries.
My library had this shelved among the hardcover middle grade books. It's exactly the sort of book I enjoyed stumbling across as a young reader and I was secretly thrilled when my youngest took an interest in it after glancing at a couple of pages. This is the way to address the questioning nature of philosophy with children. Just be prepared to be confronted with a lot of follow-up questions.