Friday, March 13, 2009

Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

161163114_8dcef9a40eI never cease to be amazed at what can be found on the internet. After writing about Uncle Wiggily the other day, I did a search on Howard Garis, the author, which led to a wonderful website full of old illustrations and cartoons. How old? Well, certainly older than ME!

Of course, one thing ALWAYS leads to another, and I ended up at a flickr page devoted to my other favorite children's book:

My copy is just as lovingly worn as this one, and I remember every picture. While watching the slideshow of the book, I suddenly became aware of the how its illustrations have shaped my idea of the perfect home and the perfect life. Kinda scary, isn't it?

Here I am fiftysomething years later in the country on a small farm that has been home to many of the animals with whom Mr. Flibberty-Jib held conversation. My desire for that lifestyle can be traced back to Mr. Flibberty-Jib. A glimpse of his white house with green shutters and climbing pink roses still touches something deep within me. It beckons me into the story and through that front door. I can smell Mrs. Flibberty-Jib's roast beef right now!

How many of my foundational assumptions about life and happiness were planted by something I saw as a child? A picture is a very powerful thing. Even now. Especially on the internet. We can see anything and EVERYTHING . . . instantly. Every now and then a search goes terribly wrong and we are thrust into the presence of something that gives new meaning to the term graphic violence.

What happens in the mind of a child who views internet images that their mind is incapable of understanding? What stories are they being beckoned into? How do we protect them? How do we protect that child still within ourselves?

"O be careful little eyes what you see."

Picture(c) 1947 By Gertrude Crampton, illustrated by Eloise Wilkins,