Once upon a time, in a faraway land, when you were still a child, what was your favorite book or other form of entertainment? As a child, I had a laundry basket stacked full of books. I would read every single one and then fill the basket to the brim again. That laundry basket held wonder, intrigue, and imagination. Each book contained a fantastic adventure or magical escape. As a child, I could not read enough, forgetting myself and becoming fully immersed in each story, with not a care in the world. As time goes on and we grow up, our worldly cares become greater, our concerns and responsibilities, more immense. A laundry basket, once viewed through the eyes of a child, as a magical object full of endless possibilities, becomes an adult vision of mundane duty and chore. It becomes a challenge in an adult world to keep our sense of wonder alive. There are adults whose childlike vision does not fade in spite of the world’s cares. Their lives are not immune to hardship or pain, yet they are able to create a world of make-believe for children and adults alike. These people are the authors of children’s books and the creators of children’s entertainment and fancy. These creators remind us that we, too, should never stop dreaming and that our only real worry should be the loss of our own sense of childlike wonder.
The stories of some of the most notable people behind children’s entertainment are inspiration for adults who once read their books or enjoyed their created entertainments. Do you recall Mr. McGregor’s garden and that pesky rabbit named Peter? “Miss Potter,” a movie depicting the life of the author, Beatrix Potter, (played by Renee Zellweger), tells the story of the creation of "Peter Rabbit." It shows the personal life and struggles of the author. She was not the typical woman of her day and became successful by maintaining her unique characteristics. Thankfully, Miss Potter stayed true to her imagination despite any obstacles. Otherwise, we might not view bunnies thieving in our gardens the same way today.
Upon reading “Whinnie the Pooh,” you may not think beyond the woods, the bear, the honey and the bees. But, after watching the film, “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” you are enlightened to how war and struggle had such an impact on author, A. A. Milne. You also realize that the story is based on Milne’s own real son, Christopher Robin, and his childhood playtime. Milne faced some of the world’s harshest realities, yet created an imaginary world where these realities can be escaped.
Spit spot! Were you a fan of the Disney classic, “Mary Poppins?” If you are like me, you probably thought this was a made up story. In fact, the Disney film is based on a book derived from the life experiences of its author, P. L. Travers. The movie, “Saving Mr. Banks,” shows the personal story of Travers and how her book was made into the popular Disney film. Both Travers' (played by Emma Thompson) and Walt Disney’s (played by Tom Hanks) stories are portrayed in the film, showing how their obstacles really lead to their greatest creative triumphs and not to personal defeat.
The movie, “The Greatest Showman,” is an outstanding musical of the life of P. T. Barnum (played by Hugh Jackman) and the creation of the circus. The circus did not materialize from a life of ease. Barnum came from poor circumstances. The movie shows how Barnum transformed several harsh circumstances into the greatest show on earth!
A new biography, “In the Great Green Room,” depicts the life of Margaret Wise Brown, author of “Goodnight Moon.” Brown was never seen as a serious adult-style writer. Not seeing things like everyone else worked well in the end for Brown, as her story, bidding goodnight to the objects in the room and to the moon, is one of the most beloved children’s books of all time.
These creators are fascinating. They all encountered life challenges that come with adulthood, yet in spite of, or perhaps because of, these events they were able to keep their imaginations alive and provide a world of wonder for children everywhere. As children, we read books and go to Disney World or the circus to escape the real world. The adults who created these escapes never stopped dreaming, despite growing up. As adults, we should use their life stories in place of their books and entertainments as inspiration to keep believing that anything is possible. Their lives and creations should remind us that a spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down, a laundry basket is never just a chore, a bunny is not just an unwelcome garden guest, a teddy bear is not just a stuffed toy, that the stars overhead should never be overlooked, and that we should always believe in a happily ever after. I think the key to these creators maintaining their imagination throughout their lives is that they never forgot that everyone has an amazing life and a fantastic story to tell, especially you…well…and Tigger too.