Saturday, August 25, 2007

Aquapod on the loose!

Stepping out of a "paint your own pottery" party on Armitage this morning, an eight-year-old girl lost her grip on her small, fat-bellied Aquapod of Nestlé Water. It tumbled merrily down the sloped sidewalk till her mother made a diving save. Nice to see that a company has made water festive enough to be a party drink!

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Evil villains and bland good guys

Villains in children's stories have fangs, warts, claws, arched eyebrows, sharp noses--all kinds of specificity. Good guys, by contrast, are undifferentiated. That's because children have a clearer sense of the world around them than of their own identities. Consequently, they identify with undifferentiated characters.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bats, spiders, turtles and one hairy eyeball

As a face painter I dread the request for Spiderman. Batman's fast, all that takes is an eye mask or a simple graphic. But Spiderman requires a painstaking web that covers the child's reddened face. Once you've done one, other boys wants them, too.

This week on Oak Street Beach, I got big help from a boy's imagination. With just an eye mask drawn of webbing and a simple radioactive spider on his forehead, he began whooshing invisible webs from his wrists over the guests. Superhero bats, spiders and turtles give me great hope for Edgar & Ellen's mysterious pet, Pet--who's much easier to draw!

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Scraping the sky

On a plane back from St. Louis this Thursday, we circled the Chicago downtown. A four-year-old boy repeatedly asked his mother and sister, "Do skyscrapers scrape the sky?" When told "No," he began importuning, "Why not? Why not!" For his mother "skyscraper" was a dead metaphor. For the child, it had the vivid power of the day it was coined.

I wish I could have asked him "Does the sky like being scraped like a dog having its ears scratched?" but the mom was setting him straight. What must he think of the name, Luke Skywalker?

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

"My favorite flavor is red!"

Yesterday at a neighborhood street fair, kids climbed all over the gleaming red fire truck. If the truck were blue, it would be cool but it wouldn't lure them so magnetically.

The fair's centerpiece was a red moon walk topped by an inflatable dalmation in a red fire hat. 11-year-old face painters carefully shaped red hearts on on a little girls' cheeks. Mothers were serving Hawaiian Punch. Kids' hot dogs wore plenty of ketchup, no mustard at all. Redder tasted better.

Which was your favorite Lifesaver when you were a kid?

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