This book is beautiful. The cover is gilded with gold, the illustration are hand-drawn pencil. The language is indecipherable, but the experience of reading this book is delicious, intoxicating and indulgent. The illustrations are clear and fanciful, and the drawings are detailed and exquisitely penned in the style of old encyclopedias. I could stare at the pages for hours, and I enjoy just looking at the detailed script and the breathtaking, fanciful drawings. Oh codex! This experience is probably what it would be like to open one of Leonardo’s notebooks!
I just read Vivian Paley’s excellent book on Sociodramatic Play by kindergarteners. It was a fascinating read into the way the under-5s use storytelling and dramatic play to understand the world by recreating and retelling stories. They use the dramatic play to experiment with roles and behaviors, and relate to the world that is too big for them. For example, they might play act the world trade center bombings, and retell it so that they can visualize the victims as floating to safety or perhaps recast themselves as older or younger heroes so that they can explore the social relationships at different ages (e.g. cinderella as a baby was treated nicely, a daddy can have wolf teeth but be a superhero for little red riding hood). The depth of the stories reported in the book is astounding, and the writing draws clear parallels between sociocultural values and fantasy play. For example, children become nicer to each other and can reform bad behavior when there is sociodramatic play than without. I would not be surprised if creativity and ingeniuty are correlated with a history of sociodramatic play. It seems that the relationships and abstraction that forms from fantasy play could be very useful for dealing with multiple viewpoints and collaborative problem solving. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in children’s education.
Over the holidays, I forgot to mention that I finished the Orson Scott Card tales of Alvin Maker. It was a very fanciful story, which touched on core values of being a maker/engineer/inventor. It is always interesting to read about magic and its properties, and different authors have quite unique perspectives of the rules of magic. I thought the relationships between the characters were very heartwarming, and the books development of the lead characters was very well done. I think that it was a good depiction of the alter-reality for America, particularly with the inclusion of simple people doing great deeds. Card’s insight into the closeness of sibling relationships and rivalries was very realistic, and I enjoyed reading about the closeness of the families described. If you have a lot of time to read the series, and want to read some historical fiction, then this is a great series. I am glad, though, that it comes to a good ending and that the story “just is” that there are details that shed light on what might have happened in America’s history– but since its fiction, it is nice to entertain the thoughts about woven histories, and magic within our lands. The idea of a greensong and the beauty of the Indian tribes was very touching, and I did enjoy the alternate myths surrounding the civil war. This was a great read, and although long (6 books, and maybe a 7th) it was definitely entertaining.