Blue whales, white sharks and the subliminality of picture books.


I love a good picture book. I don’t know many people who don’t. Perhaps those who were born without a sense of whimsy who also have no genetic material that carries any gene markers that recognize the words ‘ha’ and ‘ha?’

Are you familiar with Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex? In order to teach Billy some responsibility, his mother mail orders a blue whale that Billy must take care of. Which proves to be quite an undertaking. In the end, Billy take refuge in the very thing that has made his life so impossible, the whale.

Son#2 is now in college. I know, time is a cruel bitch. Today he tells me about a dream he had.

Son#2: What contact do you have that you could get a great white shark from?
Me: I got a shark?

Son#2: I had a dream…
Me: (I doubt it was the same as the esteemed Dr. King, but I pause to listen.)

Son#2: I dreamt that you got a great white shark from someone and I had to carry it around school in a plastic baggie. (Full of water, I assumed.) Between classes, I put it into a small tank. I accidentally left it in the student center in it’s baggie. The shark was okay when I remembered and came back to get it, but I think it flipped me off with one of it’s flippers. Everybody thought the great white shark was the coolest thing, they kept coming up to me to see it.

(In my head, I’m thinking about all the imagery. All the grown up things that are looming down at him represented by the white shark and the fact that no one cares about his anxiety because he is grown and it is for him to solve. Yes, I know they all liked the shark, but in MY HEAD he was worried about the RESPONSIBILITY. And I think back to myself when I was that age and all the dreams I had where I could not work fast enough or good enough and I was stark raving naked and nobody cared that I had no clothes on they just shook their heads sadly at me because I couldn’t do the work.)

Me:…….were you wearing clothes?
Son#2: What?! Yes, of course. You know a bunch of other things happened in that dream too, it wasn’t just about the shark.
Me: Oh, okay. (No sweetheart, it’s always about the shark. Always.)

I think it’s safe to say that Mac and Adam’s picture book is sitting somewhere relatively safe inside of Son#2’s mind. Writing the story is one thing, once it becomes an inhabitant of someone’s mind, it can become anything. Cool huh?

posted under Miscellany
2 Comments to

“Blue whales, white sharks and the subliminality of picture books.”

  1. On March 8th, 2011 at 7:34 pm gae Says:

    oh man this post is it for me tonight. Everything about it is right.

  2. On March 8th, 2011 at 8:53 pm Angela L Fox Says:

    Thanks Gae, I’m happy you liked it. Got any white sharks? lol!

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